Many big banks have opted to temporarily waive certain fees for customers whose homes or businesses were in the path of Hurricane Irene and who now find themselves suffering from a variety of hardships in the storm’s cruel wake.
JP Morgan Chase sent out a letter to customers in the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia that detailed the terms and conditions of the fees to be waived.
Signed by Chief Executive Officer of Chase Consumer Banking Ryan McInerney, the letter notified customers that, from August 29 through September 4, Chase customers in the aforementioned areas won’t be charged “for using someone else's ATM” but pointing out that “the bank that owns the ATM may charge you.” Chase will also be waive the following fees for qualifying customers: “Overdraft, Overdraft Protection Transfer, and Insufficient Funds Fees for deposit accounts,” as well as “late fees on credit cards, business and consumer loans.”
In an additional gesture of helpfulness, Chase will be “increasing staff and extending hours at key branches in severely affected areas.”
Kristin Lemkau, a JPMorgan spokeswoman, said that branch employees were instructed to reach out to local businesses and use their “good judgment” in helping consumers secure loans at flexible terms, as reported by the New York Times.
“We’ve given them the green light to act on the spot,” Ms. Lemkau said to the Times. “They can accelerate the loan approval process and give favorable financing terms when they can.”
Wells Fargo will likewise waive out-of-network ATM fees from August 29 through September 2, for affected customers living in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. During that time eligible customers will also be spared early withdrawal fees on certificates of deposits.
Other big-name banks such as Citibank, PNC, Capital One and Bank of America plan to assess customer needs on a case-by-case basis and encourage customers to contact a bank representative either in person or by phone to discuss the options available, which may include the waiver of late fees for credit card and mortgage payments.
Lesser-known local banks are getting in on the action too, such as Waterbury, Connecticut-based Webster Bank, which announced an offering of special rates on new home improvement loans through Sept. 30.
“For more than 75 years, we have been helping our customers and communities meet their financial needs – especially during life’s setbacks. As a bank founded by my father during the Great Depression, ‘being there’ is in our DNA,” said chairman and CEO of Webster Bank James C. Smith to pbn.com.
“Our neighbors who have been impacted by Irene can count on us to assist with special terms on financial products and services, delivered by understanding Webster bankers whose families have also been affected by the storm,” he added.
Experts are currently estimating that the final cost of Irene’s devastation will fall between $7 billion and $10 billion, although the full extent of the damage has yet to be assessed.