The P.A.

A weekly address from Patrick Adams,
President of St. Louis Community Credit Union

Sometimes The Media Write What They Want, Not What’s Right

On August 10th, 2009, posted in: Uncategorized by

One of the hobbies of the world’s cynics is to attack those who overwhelmingly do good work. It is a repeated practice (almost a sport) of many media outlets. Investigative reporters sometimes hide their undeserved attacks on folks doing good things under the guise of reporting. It would appear as though they can’t stand all of the good work being done, and search out ways to “dig up the dirt.” In those instances where good always outdistances the dirt, the reporter’s slant quickly turns into some one-sided mudslinging. By the time the opposing view is offered up, the negative slant has taken over our subconscious and the damage is done. Oh, the power of the pen.

Generally speaking, credit unions (who overwhelmingly do good things for consumers) were under attack this past week. The USA Today got after a bunch of credit unions for offering “overdraft privilege” to checking account holders. St. Louis Community Credit Union was not one of them under attack, but in the spirit of full disclosure, we offer this product. The slant taken was that these credit unions in question were charging outrageous fees for clearing a check or processing a debit card transaction under the overdraft privilege program. Worse yet, the article also intimated that some credit union members don’t even know they have the service and, as a result, are ambushed by the fee being charged.

Well, neither of these things goes on at St. Louis Community. Every member who has overdraft privilege with us knows it; has a chance to “opt out;” and we only charge $15 per incident. Under the category of “overwhelmingly doing good things,” the article goes on to say that the average credit union charge is $25 and the average bank charges $35 for the same service. Then it points out that most fees charged by credit unions are less than banks. But by the time the article acknowledges this fact, the slant has already been established – bad credit unions.

Are there some bad credit unions? Yes. Credit unions are a microcosm of society and, as a result, there is always a bad element. But to assassinate the character of the whole lot of us because a few are not conducting themselves as they should is a slant that is unwarranted and a grossly unfair characterization.

From my perspective, there were a few important points missing from the article. If the consumer does not have the overdraft privilege, then the following things will happen: (1) the check is returned to the merchant; (2) the credit union charges an insufficient funds charge of an amount equal to the overdraft privilege charge; (3) the merchant charges an exorbitant fee on top of the credit union’s charges; and (4) this activity may be recorded with Chexsystems or some other resource that intimates you as irresponsible in the management of your account. But if the consumer is responsible and balances their checking account and keeps track of their activity, it’s unlikely that the overdraft privilege service will ever be needed and the fee in question will ever be charged. And maybe the most important point of all…if you don’t like the fees being charged by your bank or credit union, you have the freedom to vote with your feet, i.e. change institutions.

I’m for fair reporting as it relates to St. Louis Community Credit Union. We do too many good things for our members and for the community that the media never talk about. So thanks to all of you who help spread the good news about us to your family and friends!

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