The Barney-Frank-bank-account-fee-f**cking has reached me.
I didn't pay a lot of attention to the Dodd-Frank financial-reform-legislation debate in the summer of 2010. After all, it was the summer. I do remember that some whiney woman from Harvard now runs the program and that all the pundits said that everyone would soon notice bank fees going up dramatically.
Since anything higher than zero would be up dramatically in my case, I have noticed.
Bank of America now wants $7 a month to synchronize my accounts with Intuit (INTU) Quicken Home and Office. This is a "service" that has been free for at least 16 years. In fact, a precursor of Bank of America -- the First National Bank of Boston -- gave me my first copy of Quicken for free back in 1995 to encourage online banking. I finally bought my own copy around Y2K time when some banking regulations brought in a new interface that didn't work with my free but by then six-year-old version.
Now this is why Barney-Frank-fee-f**cking hurts Intuit. I put "service" in quotes in the above paragraph because the synchronization of my BOA accounts with Quicken is basically a worthless service. It's always a few days late in seeing transactions that I can very easily see instantly directly on the BOA online banking site. Or I can even balance my bank statements the old fashioned way on Quicken in minutes. I don't think I would pay $.50 per month for the synchronization "service," never mind $7.
So, putting my old product marketing hat on, I asked myself how does this work and how could they possible have decided on a fee of $7 a month. Coincidentally I now understand how this all works thanks to a related article about identity theft May 8 in PC World: "Someone May be Getting Your Online Bank Statements." That explained why the synchronization that is basically worthless is also days late.
On the pricing side, I decided the synchronization "service" must be priced to cost because it sure as hell isn't priced to value. That means BOA must be paying Intuit $3-$4 a month for the privilege of getting days old data that is available free days earlier elsewhere. When millions of consumers figure that out, Intuit monthly service revenues with BOA are going to drop like a rock. (I am assuming BOA only pays Intuit if the consumer pays it, possibly a bad assumption given how poorly these big banks are run.)
Is the same deal in place between Intuit and others? So far every other community bank, department store, charge card, stock broker, insurance company, and corner convenience store that I deal with still offers synchronization with Quicken for free. How long before the Barney-Frank-fee-f**cking reaches those other financial institutions? How long before all Intuit synchronization service revenue goes away?
-- Dennis Byron