Reader comment on: Amalgamated Versus RiteCheck
Submitted by Ellie Kesselman (United States), Aug 14, 2012 16:43
I reviewed the Amalgamated Bank of New York website at greater length after leaving my prior comment. Things are not as they were in the past, not even ten years ago. I was sad, disappointed, disillusioned to see the lines of business and types of transactions that Amalgamated has pursued. There is nothing wrong, legally or ethically with any of it! I am not making any accusations, just noting the change.
My recollection of Amalgamated, and I was a customer, lived two blocks from my local branch until 2001, even interviewed at what was then their Union Square headquarters in the mid-1990's (although I didn't get the job), was of a small, sincere Federal Savings and Loan Bank with minimal fees, that functioned for the benefit of the customers. Customers were either current or retired garment workers (and a few other unions) and their dependents and surviving spouses, or people who lived in the neighborhood.
Amalgamated managed the savings, retirement and pension money of customers, had a minimal staff, even at the main branch, in the trust department. There were no branches outside of the five boroughs, let alone in Nevada, California, Washington D.C.! Amalgamated had the same core emphasis from 1910 (approx) to 2000, so this had nothing to do with modernization.
I still agree with Mr. Moses Teitelbaum, in that it is preferable to have a bank account if at all possible. A bank account establishes trust and gives security, piece of mind. I have lived without a bank account in the past, and understand fully the disadvantages of having no alternatives other than check cashing services. Of course, it is better to have that than nothing at all! Check cashing services also allow one to pay utility (gas, water, electric) bills too, sometimes free of charge. Some supermarkets cash payroll checks, sell 79 cent money orders, as does the U.S. Post Office (those cost $1). That is a better choice than check cashing services, if available. The other problem from not having a bank account is that there is no safety for your money, from theft. As a worst case, there is the FDIC for bank customers.
So anyway, I guess I am saying that I should not have so unequivocally advocated everything about Amalgamated, as things are clearly different from what they were ten years ago. Referring to someone as a "non-customer" is not pejorative though. It is just a way for the bank to differentiate between an account holder and everyone else.
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