Bank of America fired Jackie Ramos after she took a stand against the bank's $15 "convenience" charges and $39 over-the-limit fees so she could sleep better at night.
"There was something inherently evil about my job," the 23-year-old said in a YouTube video she uploaded on Nov. 27, two days after her termination.
Ramos, of Fairburn, Ga., worked as a "customer advocate," which involved calling people who fall behind on credit card payments and either encouraging them to pay or modifying their accounts. But not all customers qualify for modification programs that will help them, and Ramos grew tired of saying no after six months on the job.
"So I stopped denying people," said Ramos. "I helped people get on programs that they didn't necessarily qualify for but who definitely needed the help."
Bank of America declined to comment on Ramos's video but confirmed her account of the firing.
"Ms. Ramos clearly violated some bank policies, particularly around misrepresenting customer information," said spokesman Tony Allen. "Perhaps more egregious, she encouraged customers to misrepresent their information."
Allen said that as of Oct. 31, Bank of America has modified over one million customer accounts totaling $10 billion in outstanding debt by lowering interest rates or modifying monthly payments. He said the bank expects to modify between 1.2 and 1.5 million consumer and small business credit card accounts in all of 2009.
In an interview with HuffPost, Ramos emphasized that she did not make the video out of any bitterness toward Bank of America, and she said that she does not consider her former employer any worse than other credit card companies -- she's angry about the whole system.
"I feel like there's a real credit problem in this country," she said. "Too many people are complacent... Slavery was also legal at one point in time. It was the law. Now we have 30 percent interest rates, $39 late fees and over-limit fees. I want the laws changed. I want the federal government to protect its people and do what it's supposed to do."
YouTube has been an effective venue for bank customers outraged that an industry kept afloat with taxpayer dollars is raising fees, interest rates and minimum monthly payments. Ann Minch of Red Bluff, Calif. won a reduced interest rate after she declared a "debtors' revolt" in September. Her video spawned imitators such as former Bank of America employee Ben Frasier of Douglas, Ore., who said "Bank of America will stop at nothing to turn an insane profit at your expense."
Personal finance guru Suze Orman hailed the "debtors' revolt" and said banks should take notice.
In her video, Ramos said she'd never forget one customer in particular -- a 24-year-old mother with cancer who'd recently lost her mom and husband but still wanted to pay off a $6,000 debt. The woman didn't qualify for any program that would help her.
"She sobbed on the phone telling me she couldn't afford the 30 percent interest... that we had her account on. She couldn't afford the $39 late fee, the $39 over-limit fee. She told me that we were her first credit card when she turned 18, we were her only credit card, and that she was a loyal customer. And given the time to be on this earth a little while longer she would have always remained a loyal customer.
"According to Bank of America, she doesn't have enough income to be put on a program, but she can however keep paying the high interest rates on the account, and fees, because at the end of the day, it is her account, she did rack up the debt, she was late, and she did deserve the 29.99 percent interest rate."
Ramos lives with her fiance and two-year-old son in Fairburn, Ga.
Here's the video:
Consumerist has a rough transcript.