For the past year Bank of America has been phasing out eBanking accounts with free checking, and this January that process was completed as holders of those accounts were moved to new ones with minimum balance requirements. Previously those low-balance customers did not have to pay a monthly maintenance fee if they got paperless statements and weren't using tellers for routine transactions. That option was initially introduced back in 2010 when the company was expecting federal regulations they predicted would restrain fees that banks could charge their clients.
This final step in the effort to purge customers from the eBanking program has sparked backlash from those very account holders (at least, we assume it's the account holders) who have signed a petition on Change.org that has accrued roughly 46,000 e-signatures as of the completion of this sentence. A completely random sampling of those comments finds customers saying:
"I have been a BOA customer for years. This fee is totally unfair considering it mostly affects people with lower balances.
BOA was one of the banks who received US taxpayer bailout money... "
"I’m so sick of all of these fees. Being that I’ve been laid off I don’t have direct deposit anymore. If they impose anymore fees then I will definitely be ending my long time relationship with them."
"Bank of America should should not charge anything for these checking accounts that have always been free. Many people can't afford the fees."
"I currently use eBanking and have had no need to use a teller. BofA, keep this feature available for the low income people that don't even go inside your banks. Let our money just sit there."
"I know how hard it is to have a life while living in poverty"
"So, what are those of you waiting for ??? If they do start charging, end your business with BofA and find a bank that doesnt charge !!!!!"
"You have our money! Don’t charge us for access!"
As for Bank of America's side of the story, they say that it's been almost five years since they even offered this type of account. In fact, they say they've been transferring customers to a "core checking" account that has a required monthly fee of $12 unless customers holding those accounts either have a balance of $1,500 or made a direct deposit of $250 or more.
According to the Charlotte Observer, the move is the latest change under their ninth-year CEO Brian Moynihan, who has opted to focus on "[streamlining] the company by exiting business lines and shedding 'non-core' products."