Progressive Democrat Newsletter Issue 202

I am continuing to discuss Bank of America. Have to say that now I have been hit by a frivolous fee from BoA on a credit card that I am paying off the balance on. Only bank I know that STILL charges you even when you pay off the full balance. I have stopped using my BoA credit cards and am using my Discover Card and USAA card. As far as I can tell they are better than Bank of America or Citibank, another lousy bank according to Co-op America's Responsible shopper site. I also received an email from a reader who also had a bad customer service experience with Bank of America. This is not surprising because Bank of America is the bank that receives the most complaints from customers, according to the Office of Comptroller of the Currency. To remind you, here is the list of complaints:

Bank of America: 7,230 complaints (25.5% of total)
J.P. Morgan Chase: 4,890 complaints (17.3%)
Citigroup: 3,742 complaints (13.2%)
Wells Fargo: 2,695 complaints (9.5%)
HSBC North America: 1,963 complaints (6.9%)
Wachovia: 1,265 complaints (4.5%)
U.S. Bancorp: 1,027 complaints (3.6%)
National City: 586 complaints (2.1%)
The Royal Bank of Scotland Group: 537 complaints (1.9 %)
Key Corp: 343 complaints (1.2 %)

Once again I want to emphasize that TD Bank seems among the best in terms of both customer service and in avoiding the kind of horrible lending practices that has led to this financial crisis. They are one of the most stable banks around and put customer service first. USAA is also good for financial services, though limited to Vets and their families.  Anyone else have good bank stories?

Hah...as I wrote this I got a robo call from Bank of America asking me about my satisfaction with their customer service. Funny how they think a robocall asking my opinion (press 1 for yes, 2 for no) and telling me how valuable I am takes the place of real customer service. Again, the comparison with TD bank is stark. Call TD bank and you get a live person right away. They also have longer hours and more weekend hours. Bank of America's robocalls don't compensate for the rest of crap they dish out.

I also got some good responses regarding the organizations I highlighted last week that are helping out Americans during the economic crisis. So I will repeat the list this week:

If you are in a position to help people in need, here are a few suggestions, all through Alternative Gifts.

Healthy Food for Hungry Americans

AGI provides mini grants to pantries and food banks in the USA through this project.

Hunger is a significant challenge, but lack of food is a serious problem facing people around the globe. "Food Insecurity" is a new term that encompasses the reality and anxiety of being poor and without food.

   * A school nurse or social worker contacts a parent at work to ask about your child's stomach aches.
    * The food stamp `credit card' is not accepted at the store that is closest to home, and no cash is left.
    * Your child is sick and the doctor's office recommends an over-thecounter remedy that you can't afford.
    * The food pantry claims that you have visited there too many times in recent months.
    * While you are hospitalized, the electricity is turned off and all the foodin the refrigerator is spoiled.
    * The roaches or mice have invaded every edible thing in paper orplastic, and the landlord is not responsive.

AGI selects at least 10 emergency pantries or food banks in various regions to receive grants of $4,000 to $5,000 each from donations to this project.

$15 - Nutritious food (not fast food meals) for one person for 3 days
$48 - Food-bank basics for a family of 4 for a week

This one is one I donated to a couple of times because it combines helping people with alternative energy: Sun Power for Tribal Families

Since 2000, the Tribal Lands Renewable Energy Program has worked in collaboration with service organizations to improve the quality of life for Native American families living on reservations.

TREES, WATER & PEOPLE (TWP) coordinates the purchase, assembly and installation of solar heating systems for tribal people living on reservations in the Western United States. Solar power allows people to remain independent and stay productive during the cold winter months, when they otherwise had to live with other family members so they could afford to pay the heating bills. Many families must choose between food, medicine and education in order to pay for traditional heating fuels. Their health is often complicated by out-dated furnaces or wood stoves.

This technology provides a `new way to honor the old ways' and respect Native American tradition of living in harmony with nature--protecting Mother Earth.

$55 - One share of materials to build a solar powered heating system
$1320 - A new, safer alternative to high-cost heating bills for one Native American household

Economic Justice & Empowerment in Appalachia

Safe, affordable housing and better jobs empower people who have long suffered in rural poverty.

West Virginia is a mountainous rural state with one of the most depressed economies in the United States. According to the US Census Bureau, West Virginia is the third lowest in per capita income, and it ranks last in median household income. Along with hunger and malnutrition, limited access to health care, education, public transportation, and jobs are critical issues facing the residents of West Virginia.

Since the 1920's, AMERICAN FRIENDS SERVICE COMMITTEE (AFSC) has worked in the region to initiate changes that give people new hope through advocacy and education. Low-income families are able to achieve greater stability through safe, affordable housing, equal access to higher education, and jobs that pay living wages.

AFSC's new projects include mentoring programs for at-risk students, home repair projects to reduce homelessness, advocacy for improved health care and racial harmony, and sponsorship of public forums.

$28 - One share of advocacy for poor families
$275 - Support services and education
$1650 - Major repairs for a home

Safe Shelter During Times of Crisis 

Help victims of poverty find safe shelter.

Today, 30% of America's homeless populations are families with children. According to the Alliance to End Homelessness, more than 3.5 million people will experience homelessness this year--one million will be children. These families and children are often in poor health, and have more difficulties in school or keeping a job. The insecurity of being without basic shelter is emotionally and physically debilitating. Many homeless students are at-risk of dropping out. Some homeless adults have jobs but cannot keep up.

Many agencies that provide shelter for people with no home to claim do more than provide a bed and a meal. They also supply medical care, clothing and safety! In addition, they generously give compassion--supportive services of counseling, after-school childcare and tutoring--so parents can do what they can to prepare for some permanency in their lives. Job training, household budgeting classes and pastoral care are also part of the `package' of helping hands in most shelters.

AGI chooses at least 10 shelters in various parts of the US each year to receive grants from donations to this project.

$11 - Shelter in a safe place for one person or a mother and child for one night
$44 - Shelter and counsel a family of four for one week

A Better Future for Women in Poverty

When women learn new skills, they have hope for their future.

What gives hope to women struggling in poverty? "Reaching for the Future" is a program that provides the necessary elements for single moms to prepare for a future that is different from their past. This collaborative project combines self-awareness, language and communication skills, workplace readiness assessment, on-the-job training, career placement or mentoring, decision-making (leadership), and supportive communities. In general, women learn best from other women. They need to know they are not alone in the struggles of everyday life.

LA MUJER OBRERA (`The Working Woman') in El Paso, Texas, provides language and micro-enterprise training. It is unique in the USA for its bilingual, integrated approach to study-skills preparation and serves at least 150 women each year. THE ENTERPRISING KITCHEN (TEK) in Chicago, Illinois, combines on-the job training in a personal care item manufacturing and mail-order operation, along with personal counseling for career development. TEK accepts court referrals and helps at least 60 women break the cycle of self-defeat each year. In Wichita, Kansas, WOMEN'S INITATIVE NETWORK (WIN) specializes in education, job training and life-skill training to help women survivors of domestic violence gain self sufficiency and become a contributing citizen.

$11 - One share of hope for women in development
$110 - Underwrite an average week of training and encouragement for a woman seeking change in her life

If you can give to one of these (and I know many people cannot) please do. It can make a big difference to another American.

And as a reminder, THIS is what the Bush family does to America...three recessions in three terms:

Here is this week's newsletter:

BANK OF AMERICA: More Hypocrisy

Biofuels: Resolving Dilemmas

FREE RICE: Feeding the World

Campaign Finance Reform in NY State

NEW YORK STATE FOCUS

ORANGE COUNTY, CA EVENTS

SACRAMENTO, CA EVENTS

SAN DIEGO, CA EVENTS

CALIFORNIA FOCUS

PHOENIX, AZ EVENTS

ARIZONA FOCUS

HOUSTON/HARRIS CO. TX EVENTS

AUSTIN/TRAVIS CO. TX EVENTS

TEXAS FOCUS

GEORGIA DEMOCRATS WORK: Helping Community in Georgia

GEORGIA FOCUS

NORTH CAROLINA FOCUS

NEW JERSEY FOCUS

VIRGINIA FOCUS

ILLINOIS FOCUS

COLORADO FOCUS

FLORIDA FOCUS

PENNSYLVANIA FOCUS

WISCONSIN FOCUS

WASHINGTON FOCUS

NEVADA FOCUS

IOWA FOCUS

Tags: alternative energy, Arizona, bank of america, banks, biofuels, California, charity, coal, Colorado, Florida, Free Rice, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Nevada, new jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, texas, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin (all tags)

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