Closing Bank of America for Business

Written by Scott Parkin

Topics: Coal

share this story
facebook twitter email stumble upon
Get Energy Alerts

From our kick ass RAN NYC organizer Sam

Bank of America customers were hard pressed to find a working atm in midtown manhattan yesterday when a group of volunteers took to the streets with little more than fliers and caution tape.


How do you shut down 10 banking centers in just 2 hours? It’s easier than you’d think and you don’t need locks and chains and dozens of arrests to do it. A group activists participated in a little culture jamming experiment by playing with people’s expectations and ended up disrupting business as usual all over midtown.

Our goal was to shut down 37 Bank of America atm’s at 10 locations. Our tools: caution tape, fliers, and a little creativity. People pretty consistently do what they’re told especially if the instructions are colorful or in writing. Red means “stop”, green means “go”, “out of order” means “tough luck, take your business elsewhere”, right? So at 9am two teams quietly posted “closed” signs over dozens of atm’s and blocked their little cubbies with “global warming crime scene” tape.

The results were instantaneous and amazing! sometimes potential customes would be standing right next to someone taping up an atm, see the sign, and simply get discouraged and leave. Several of these atm’s were located inside larger banking centers, but more often than not employees didn’t take it upon themselves to investigate, possibly figuring “hey, the signs look pretty official, and no one would just randomly start taping up atm’s so they must be legit”. However, if they’d looked a little more closely they might have wondered why the flyers would be sporting the website and how the workings of a kiosk would have anything to do with “divesting from the dirty coal industry”. Many of the atm’s remained “closed” long after we’d left.

This is a really fun and easy action to reproduce anywhere and you don’t need a lot of money or people to make any Bank of America “closed for business”.

check out photos at RAN flickr
and e-mail me at if you’d like to get involved with RAN in New York



23 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Nick says:

    This is the coolest thing ever. After reading this post, I’m seriously considering holding a similar event at my local Bank of America – maybe for the November action day!

  2. Robin says:

    Sam, this is great! As I try to get folks involved in the day of action against coal finance, I keep showing them these photos! Great job on the materials. Keep it up!

  3. Luke says:

    I agree, this is pretty much the coolest thing ever.

  4. denise buelteman says:

    So, standing and yelling at people “divest from dirty coal” etc. seems to make people want to defend their actions. Getting creative, really creating art, is totally different. Coolest ever for sure.

  5. James says:

    Wow, this is a great action. Good work guys, can’t wait to try this in my town!

  6. bvf510 says:

    where can i get some of that tape? the opportunities are endless… (Great idea btw!!)

  7. Joe Smith says:

    You people are stupid criminals. But that’s ok.
    You sleep somewhere. You have bank accounts somewhere.
    And you eat food and use the world just like everyone
    else. What about people who needed to get to their funds
    to do the business of their lives? You arrogant stupid
    children will someday be the victim of even bigger assholes
    than you are being now, and that will doubtless be your
    payback for the stupid, criminal stunts you are now
    pulling. I sincerely hope that someone shuts *you* down
    – soon, and with prejudice.
    The last time some assholes shutdown midtown NYC, I think
    it was with a couple of hijacked aircraft. They knocked
    down a couple of buildings, as I recall. You people are
    in fine company, as your actions differ from theirs, only
    by degree.

  8. sparki says:

    Since you are bringing up “terrorism” maybe you should look into the “terrorism” in Appalachia that Bank of America is funding. Criminal companies like Massey Energy, Arch Coal and Alpha Natural Resources (all funded by Bank of America) are waging a bombing campaign on the people and mountains of that region. While scared little people like you are sitting in your homes writing about the inconvenience of having your ATM get an “out of order” sign on it, people in West Virginia and other states have their entire communities and landscapes put “out of order” by the coal industry and the greedy bankers that love them. 500 hundred mountains decapitated, over 1200 rivers and streams buried by mountaintop removal debris, thousands displaced, homes destroyed, groundwater poisoned and environmental and community activists targeted and harassed by coal industry thugs.

    Next time your ATM is put “out of order,” go across the street and use another one instead of wasting your time whining on the internet.

  9. James says:

    I want you to know that you should pay attention to the Bank of America and its derogatory treatment of disabled customers that recieve Social Security Benefits. You may also want to know that they are fleecing college students’ into “free checking” accounts offering unsecured lines of credit of which their customer service department has negligent training and predatory practices , upto and including chicanery by branch managers’ and employees’, ignoring their customers’ not following the FDCPA and laws concerning the regulation of collections..

    Disabled Amereicans’ and college students’ should not be singeled out by this bank. I have lost all faith in commerical banks’ because of the way Kenneth Lewis treats customers’. Its like the, “bear sh*t in the buckwheat!”
    Harrasement is inexcuseable by any average citizen why should Kenneth Lewis and his staff be excused?

  10. Kamie says:

    Wondering if any of you have heard or experienced Bank of America’s horrible customer service. My sister and I started a group on facebook for it, “Bank of America eats College Students for Lunch.” This is a post to the group’s wall from a woman who had even more trouble than we did:

    I have a savings account linked to my checking with $100 in it for overdraft protection. Bank of America sent me a credit card in the mail, which I shredded, but they activated it anyway and linked it to my checking. One time last summer I went over my checking limit by $5, and they took the money from the credit card, not the savings account. Of course, not knowing that this card was activated, since I destroyed it, I didn’t make payments on it. The interest grew exponentially on the $5 charge, plus late fees and non-payment fees, until I received a notice in the mail that my account was in collection for $300. I went to Bank of America to tell them that I never wanted this card in the first place and to ask them to take care of it for me, and they told me that technically it wasn’t a Bank of America card and that I needed to take my problems up with Visa. I called Visa, they said the only choice I had was to pay off the card completely. I was also told that this would not affect my credit score if I paid it off. So I did. I’ve been working diligently to build credit over the last six years so I would be able to buy a building to start my bakery this spring. I have never had a late payment on anything and have used credit responsibly, only to build an excellent credit history. Now my credit is absolutely shot. I threw away $300 for nothing, my six years of excellent payment history mean nothing, and now I can’t apply for a loan for my bakery, which I’ve been working toward for YEARS. All because Bank of America linked a credit card to my checking account and didn’t tell me about my charges until the card was in collection. DO NOT BANK AT BANK OF AMERICA!!!

    This is just one example of the unbelievable, most definitely illegal practices of Bank of America. Get the word out!

  11. why did bank of america close down

  12. Jeff says:

    To all of you people complaining about bank of america and their mistreatment of college students, what gun did they place to any of your heads to open an account ?

    To Kamie and her myspace site
    So after you overdrew YOUR account and never bothered to check YOUR accounts, it is the banks fault YOU are irresponsible ? Funny I thought YOU were the one who overdrew her account. They also send you statements in the mail to let you know that YOU have overdrawn your account. Maybe if you put as much time and effort into maintaining YOUR account as you do that silly myspace site you could have saved yourself a TON of money, but that would just be the logical choice. Grow up and take responsibility for your own actions, and go get a check register at whatever bank you are at now so you wont have to waste time setting up a new myspace account to complain about your own actions.

    Why is it that people in general always want to blame a corporation for something they did themselves?

    As for preying on college students. The accounts are free for college students for 5 to 6 years because most college students don’t have the ability to pay monthly maintenance fees. Anytime I have ever had an issue with the bank I have gone in and talked to the personal bankers and when it isn’t MY FAULT they take care of me.

    Bank of America is like any other bank. Those people should be arrested for pulling a lame stunt and disrupting people’s lives. You say B of A is funding terrorists now ? Where is your proof ? Find proof that doesn’t come from an extremist group on how B of A is DIRECTLY funding a terrorist group and post it instead of throwing around names.

    What these people did in this stunt was clever but it is still wrong, and they should be punished. Also what did they drive to get where they needed to go ? It had better be an alternative fuel car that runs on corn oil or else they are by their own defenition just as bad as Bank of America.

  13. Lara says:

    HMMM…you talk about Bank of America funding criminal corporations. Well, there are other banks involved as well. Why single out one bank when there was CitiBank, Chase, Wells Fargo, and PNC Bank. But no, because bank of america is a large corporation that works as other bank do, you want to put them down.

    For those who feel that Bank of America is preying on students or even taking money from you. Uhm, the information is in writing to you. When you have an account and YOU spend more than what is in there, there is a FEE. Now, for those who didn’t know that, now you do. Why do people want to blame banks for those fees. Banks are a for profit business.

    When will people understand how to take there own stand on their OWN mistakes. Come on, common sense people. If you are late, there is a LATE FEE. If YOU overdraw, there is an overdraft FEE. Take responsibility. If people really want to be able to avoid these fees, then balance your checkbook! Spend what you actually have.

    So you want to stop people from using the ATM Machines. Well how low is that. Let’s see, how the hell would you feel that you couldn’t get your money out. And for you to actually do it, you have to go to another bank to find out that you have to pay $2 to withdraw from that ATM. So lets see, so if those people who couldn’t use those atm machines that day and had to pay $2 fees to use another machine. Then you guys should be responsible in paying those fees and any other fees that were associated with that. Wow, that would be a lot of money for you guys to pay out. And lets see, there are cameras at the atm machines, so if the pictures are there of those who put up the signs, then too bad for them. GOTCHA!

  14. M says:

    Lara and Jeff,

    You completely missed Kamie’s point. She wasn’t complaining about the fee and she DOES take responsibility for her bank accounts. She didn’t say the overdraft was B of A’s fault. She complained because a credit card was fraudulantly opened in her name. She only saw the offer for the card. She never requested the card.
    If you give her the benefit of the doubt you can assume that she didn’t get any direct notice of the card. It’s also reasonable to imagine her overlooking notices recieved for a card that she never opened and had NO IDEA was opened in her name WITHOUT HER PERMISSION.
    Because of the size of the company and the number of customers and transactions handled daily, it’s easy for large corporations to make huge mistakes. It’s the customer service that refused to assist her that is reproachable.

    Anyone who’s ever had to clean up a credit record knows how morally unscrupulous large (and small) banking and credit corporations can be.

    I don’t think the actions were criminal. Questionable, sure. But they didn’t ACTUALLY shut down the machine. The doors weren’t blocked, locked or barred. It’s mischevious. It’s not criminal.
    Every act of protest causes an inconvenience. That’s the point. Make an interruption for an IMPORTANT CAUSE with wide-spread SOCIETAL CONSEQUENCES in order to spread awareness and concern.

    Your defense of the corporations is laughable. I agree that it’s excessive to blame all of our personal and societal issues on the “evil” large corporations but it’s equally indefensible to excuse them entirely of responsibility.

    You simply assume that the corporation is not at all to blame for Kamie’s situation. You assume that it’s her own “stupid” fault. You assume a lot of things about her in order to make your response.

    Behind every comment on the internet is a thinking feeling human being. A person who has REASONs for their choices. A person who has VALUES whether or not they are the same as yours. Too often do I see people assume that others are irresponsible, unthinking, inexcusable beasts that deserve whatever situation they face.
    Imagine Kamie is a friend of yours. A relative. How would you respond to her story then?

    We’re all neighbors.

  15. Great! I want to write blogs in this way for a long time, could I join you?

  16. Hi, this post is very inspiring and it enriches my idea about this topic.

  17. ActivistAnnie says:

    This is pretty brilliant. We did something similar when we bum-rushed Chase banks. We got a whole lot of people together to stand in the lobby of the corporate banking center for Chase. And by “a whole lot”, I mean enough to crowd the lobby and have every person in there standing shoulder to shoulder. It stopped business for a whole day. It was pretty neat. We’ve also taped up banks before, you know, with caution tape.

    Anyway, I have never had a bank account, and I will never use banks. I pay for everything in cash. I do not have a credit card and I take my paychecks and cash them at a liquor store. I work for a small business with no intention of incorporating.

    Corporations destroy America.

  18. kmess says:

    These people are fools who have nothing better to do. You are disrupting people’s lives. People with jobs need their money to be an active part of society. Maybe you imbeciles should join them.

  19. Matt says:

    Hey guys.. I’m sure it gives you a warm fuzzy and all to feel like you have control over something in a world where we often do not have alot of control in our lives. But the fact is all you are doing is making things worse for your peers.

    The people in BoA that supposedly fund the organizations you don’t like, etc… Well I’ll share a secret with you – they don’t use the ATM to withdraw cash for such things, and if they do actually need large sums of cash, they’ll pretty much ignore closed signs anyways.

    Also, something to note.. banks make MORE money when people cannot withdraw their cash.

    So next time you think you are making a difference, think about WHO you are affecting. Want to change BoA? You need to lobby your local politician, and take the cheesy tactics to the places that will actually affect the higher ups in some significant way.

  20. anon says:

    …aaaand today the site is down. Coincidence?

  21. Willy says:

    Kindly take your self-righteousness elsewhere and stop acting like you’re better than everyone else.

  22. Craig says:

    Think of all the gas wasted making another trip to the bank by all those people. Very counter productive. But if you were intelligent enough to think this through you might have done something helpful with your time.

  23. slash credit says:

    I am seaching for some idea to write in my blog somehow come to your blog. best of luck. I like your site!

Trackbacks For This Post

  1. Powershifters shut down Citi Bank! « It’s Getting Hot In Here

Leave a Comment Here's Your Chance to Be Heard!

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.