“We often hear people say that banks don’t innovate,” Jamie Dimon wrote in his annual letter to shareholders last year. To the contrary, Dimon said “over time, banks have been enormous innovators.” And although Jamie isn't exactly wild for all that fintech mumbo-jumbo, innovation can come in much simpler ways.
The most recent evidence of JPMorgan's ceaseless quest to reimagine banking: a class-action suit against alleging that the bank gouged jurors on debit cards issued to hold their jury duty per diems. Bloomberg reports:
In a handful of jurisdictions, the biggest U.S. bank by assets has taken over administration of the juror-compensation system, issuing debit cards instead of the age-old paper checks.
In addition to the juror pay, the cards also come loaded with fees -- for balance inquiries, for inactivity, for using non-Chase ATMs, for charges with insufficient funds and for cash or check issuance. The funds become impossible to withdraw from an ATM once the balance falls below $20, and in at least one jurisdiction -- Washington, D.C. -- there are no Chase branches or ATMs within 90 miles, ensuring the funds will eventually be frittered away to the bank.
It's not the first time JPMorgan has been sued for nickle-and-diming a particularly captive clientele. Last year the bank settled a class-action lawsuit brought by ex-cons who accused Chase of trying “to exploit one of the most vulnerable groups imaginable – releasees from federal corrections facilities.” As in the case of jurors, the cards charged fees for non-Chase withdrawals, balance inquiries, overdrafts and inactivity.
JPMorgan will never tire of finding ways to reward their shareholders.