The new campaign, "Occupy Bank of America, sponsored by Bank of America," will allow protesters to occupy any full-service Bank of America branch nationwide during regular business hours beginning Wednesday, November 2. Bank officials said that the decision was based on negative customer feedback to the proposed debit-card fee, and the realization that there was an as yet untapped opportunity to monetize the Occupy Wall Street.
"Look, we made a mistake. We did not anticipate that the reaction to the debit-card fee would be as strong and as sustained as it was. We realized we were going to lose a lot of customers and that was just unacceptable," said Bank of America’s chief executive officer, Kenneth D. Lewis.
"Opening our branches to the Occupy Wall Street protesters, in my mind, is really going to be a win-win-win situation," Lewis said. "With winter approaching soon, the protesters are going to need a warm place to do their protesting. The cities won’t have to divert their resources, which are already stretched thin, towards dealing with the protesters. And the $10 entrance fee we’ll collect from the protesters will help us recoup the revenue we would have earned with the debit-card fee. Win. Win. Win."
Just hours after the announcement, members of the Occupy San Francisco protest were starting to line up in front of a Bank of America branch on Market Street. Abby Carmichael, 19, a sophomore at the University of San Francisco, and Jake Samuelson, 20, a part-time barista, were among the dozen or so people waiting to be the first to participate in "Occupy Bank of America, sponsored by Bank of America." Holding an over-sized replica of an eviction notice, the couple said they felt the $10 entrance fee was a small price to pay for the opportunity to protest inside a Bank of America branch.
"I like that we’ll be able to stand inside Bank of America and tell everyone who comes in to get a car loan, or make a deposit, or whatever, just how evil Bank of America really is," Carmichael said. "Plus, I think they’re giving protesters free cookies, which is pretty awesome."
A Bank of America spokesperson confirmed that they will be providing protesters free cookies and that additional snacks and beverages would be available for purchase. In addition, Bank of America will waive any ATM charges so long as a portion of the withdrawal is used to cover the cost of the entrance fee.
"We want to make the Occupy Bank of America experience as pleasant as possible," the spokesperson said.