Letter to CEOs of US Bank and Bank of America (draft)
Dear Mr. Davis and Mr. Moynihan,
I write you today of some banking practices that I find scandalous. Allow me to tell you a little about myself: I started work as an English Teacher in France in 2013 and soon after became a US Bank customer. I had been banking with Bank of America since 2011 and still do. Until this past autumn, I had never missed a payment and always paid my bills, no matter what. I always found a way.
I was so driven to lead a financially sustainable lifestyle that I stopped using credit cards completely from December 2015-May 2016, only paying them down. Over three years, every single month I found a way to make a payment despite the fact that my French bank would not let me transfer my earnings as an English teacher, and that of course both Bank of America and US Bank do not accept payments from French or foreign bank accounts.
It was always a headache, and I often had to send money to my parents and ask them to do the payments for me. Sometimes friends pitched in, but it always was a source of embarrassment and anxiety for me! I always found a way though.
In September of 2015 I arrived in France with no money, but with plenty of work lined up. My plan was to pull myself up by my bootstraps and it worked. I hustled 7 days a week teaching English, to be able to pay rent, buy food, and pay down my debt.
I almost never went out, trying very hard to save money. Unlike everyone else I knew, I also never went on vacation from my arrival in France in September 2013 to the present time.
I worked in two schools and tutored several students, I had 14+ jobs throughout the year teaching English. But because I arrived with no money, I was forever behind and catching up, and also punished by the French system, whose only job is to keep poor foreigners out of the country.
So despised are poor foreign women that female social workers would refuse to help me and would just heinously mock me, as if that were their political office: xenophobia, fascism, and abuse. One denied me care at a hospital even after the nurse said to her that I needed to see the doctor. Another told me to pay tuition despite the fact that I did not have the money to — this caused me to exceed the debt limits on my French bank account, and to incur additional fees.
In one year, BNP Paribas charged more than 300 euros in fees, many of them fraudulent. That year I had worked as an au pair making between 200–400 euros a month, and was stuck buying most of my own food and paying transportation and medical costs out of pocket, and also working more than the daily and weekly limits imposed by French law, so the fraudulent activities of BNP Paribas were costly to say the least.
I could not afford even the most basic accoutrements for my student dorm and went without a comforter among other essentials. My diet consisted almost solely of pasta once I got a pot I could boil water with.
Before moving into the student dorm, I had been in the best shape of my life, but poor nutrition, poverty, pollution, solitary confinement-like conditions and the peripheral, dangerous quality of the neighborhood caused my hard won runner body to deteriorate.
Not to mention that, but my teacher’s pay for additional teaching missions kept being held up 3–5 months, and I had budgeted carefully to have enough money for the flight home, and for my next big move to grad school.
Sadly, several institutions withheld money that was owed to me on dubious pretexts, many buying time, waiting for me to leave the country so they could cover up and get away with crimes.
My savings was eaten up and I still haven’t been paid money that was owed to me.
When I got back to the US a friend invited me to stay with her on condition that I take care of her plants. I was jobsearching and working as an art model and despite having money to pay the bills she did not pay them, and the internet and heat never worked and the gas shut off while I was staying there. I had bought food because I couldn’t afford to eat out, so was sabotaged.
Ever since I have been drowning, unable to pay my bills, not able to get by. Unemployment has persisted since the end of my contract in France last April. Despite financial good faith, despite working so hard to save and paying down my credit cards, despite my loyal business, I have been brutalized and raked over the coals for months now.
I called US Bank customer service in October, explained my financial situation, and was transferred to Direct TV. As for Bank of America, I receive calls three times a day on average, sometimes from two different branches.
Both of your banks only seem interested in heralding my total financial destruction, because I have clearly explained my difficulties but they have been ignored.
When I tried to pay my bills near the end of last year, I could not even access my account to make a payment. I also sought out “Help & Support,” but was of course, denied.
If anyone asks who is responsible for my financial ruin, at least it will be obvious which banks, banking practices, and criminal policies are to blame.
I am counting you to correct these errors of faith and judgement on the part of banking institutions.