Happy to be outed as a moron in this week’s Talk of the Town.
I remember being sent to monitor a tiny Ku Klux Klan rally in, of all places, Ann Arbor, when I was a stringer for the Detroit News in the early 1990s. Clearly they had chosen an avowedly liberal college town in the spirit of provocation in the hopes of getting some coverage. The editors told me that they didn’t want to give the KKK any free press, but I should show up in case anything newsworthy happened.
— Talking Points Memo commentor MA
There were a few somewhat nervous and defiant KKK types whose words were drowned out by a larger crowd of counter-protestors. After about a half hour, the KKK packed up its crew and hit the road. They didn’t get any press coverage and they didn’t come back to Ann Arbor during my time there: no percentage in it. I suspect editors still have similar policies in place about the Klan, but it’s fascinating to me that they’re willing to give Terry Jones’s hate speech so much play. What has happened to the media environment that makes it possible for a fringe freak like this to get the media attention he so desperately craves, and without which he would have to close shop and find something else to do with his time? Whey are media outlets unable to just ignore this guy like they ignored the Klan’s transparent attempts at media manipulation. Being an editor still means deciding whose attempts at media manipulation will get play — is this a symptom of the decline of editorial control in the internet era? Is this coverage being driven by shifts in the media environment that make it impossible to ignore any member of the lunatic fringe who might do something creepy enough to gain saturation coverage in the blogosophere? Is it a function of the shift toward focusing on the most sensational and polarizing figures in order to win ratings by catering to the kinds of excitement and indignation a figure like Jones incites? If so, are we going to see editors start reversing their long-standing policies about not catering to the Klan’s media strategies? It’s kind of depressing to see how this guy can make the media twitch and dance — and the international media are, of course, eating it up, since it confirms so many international stereotypes about the US. Just how low do you have to go these days to get saturation cable coverage by outlets who clearly take pleasure in fuelling a productive spiral of incitement and indignation?
Wanted to tell a story about my experience with Chase over the past three months.
In late June, someone in Italy obtained my credit card number and banking info, and proceeded to clear out my entire checking account, savings account, and overdraft protection. A little over $10k overall.
When this occurred, I received not a single notification from Chase. Not one. Because I had cash on hand, it wasn’t until three days after this happened when I tried to use an ATM that I discovered something was amiss. During that time several recurring transactions (student loans, gym, etc) were declined, and my account was hit with additional fees. Again, no word from Chase.
Once I finally found that all of my money was missing, I called Chase to figure out what to do. No one could help me — they would only transfer me to the fraud department, which was CLOSED ON THE WEEKENDS (makes total sense, right?). So I had to wait an additional two days, with more charges dinging my account.
On Monday, I finally got ahold of the fraud prevention team. I spoke to three different representatives, as I kept getting transferred around without any rhyme or reason. Not a single one of them offered condolences for what I was going through. In fact, I was challenged on the veracity of my claim more than once. In the end I was told to go Google a particular form that Chase uses, fill it out, and fax it back to them. Nothing could be done until then — that was their process.
So I fill out the form and do everything, send it in, and I’m told I have to wait up to two weeks for my money to be returned. What about the overdraft fees I was being hit with? They would “take care of them” once the whole thing was done. I was highly suspicious of this.
My funds ended up back in my account about a week later, though the $1,300 in overdraft charges were still sitting on my credit card, which I found odd. Apparently Chase was going to make me pay the overdraft bill (they had added the $1300 to my checking account). I called to ask about this and they weren’t able to answer my question, so I paid it.
In the meantime, those four overdraft charges were not going away. In July I called Chase about them, wanting to know when they would be wiped clean. I was told I had to file another claim for this. I got into an argument with two different customer service reps, one who hung up on me after I complained about how terrible the service I received had been.
Fast forward to last week, when I get a letter in the mail from Chase informing me of $8.15 in penalties and interest charges for my credit card — fees that were generated by the fraudulent activity on my account (I have never used this credit card, not even once). It told me that “failure to pay this amount will result in the closure of your account.” Well fuck you too, Chase.
So today I called them. And spent an hour and a half arguing with SEVEN different customer service representatives who refused to remove the charges. They said that because I had only filed a bank fraud report and not a credit card fraud report that I was ineligible for the fees to be returned. At this I lost my shit and called them thieves and said I would expect a giant corporate welfare case like them would treat taxpayers better than they do.
The seventh and last transfer was to a woman who was higher up. After she told me that she would waive the fees, I thanked her and then spoke for five minutes about everything I’ve written here. The lack of communication, the insistence on charging me but not helping me, the whole ordeal. I told her that her company was criminal and that I looked forward to the moment when I took out every cent I own from their horrible fucking institution. “Chase is sorry to hear of your position,” she said. “Fuck you,” I replied, and hung up.