Most people don't like to be told what to do with their money. And they especially don't like to be told by the banks holding that money.
Chase learned this the hard way on Monday, when the bank tweeted — and quickly deleted — a fictional exchange between a hard-up account holder and their sentient bank account.
"Why is my balance low," the fictional human asks. The bank responds with "make coffee at home," "eat the food that's already in the fridge" and "you don't need a cab, it's only three blocks." The feckless human replies, "I guess we'll never know."
The advice fell flat among Twitter users, who pointed out that Chase didn't exactly survive the 2008 financial crisis by making its own coffee and eschewing pricey cab rides. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts pointed out that Chase parent JPMorgan Chase and other big banks received multi-billion bailouts from taxpayers at a time when many Americans lost their jobs or lost their homes to foreclosure.
Lawyer Luppe Luppen pointed out the hypocrisy of a bank chastising people for spending at the same time as it offers credit cards— including the Starbucks Rewards card — that encourage people to spend more.
Pointing to profligate spending, however, misses the mark. Most Americans' budget busters aren't avocado toast but mundane necessities like shelter, transportation and health care. Over the past decade, the costs of housing and health care have risen one-and-a-half times the rate of wages, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The median rent in the U.S. just hit a peak of over $1,000 a month, according to government figures.
Even some of Chase's own employees are struggling, as Rep. Katie Porter of California pointed out earlier this month at a House committee hearing with JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon. A bank teller working full-time at $16.50 per hour would still find herself $560 in the red after paying for rent, food and childcare, Porter demonstrated.
If that employee also banked with a Chase account, she would lose yet more money in maintenance fees. Chase charges a monthly fee of $12 to $25 for checking accounts whose balance is below $500. If customers happen to overdraw their Chase account, the penalty fees could reach $34.
After taking down its tweet, the bank issued a follow-up statement. "Our #MondayMotivation is to get better at #MondayMotivation tweets. Thanks for the feedback Twitter world."