Realty agents and lenders should take note of a story that broke in the Chicago area earlier this week when it comes time to contact or send a newsletter or reminder e-mail to current and potential clients. The story gives them and all of us a reason to check our nearest ATM machine, but it could eventually help you to get a sale or commission as well.
The story is about a woman in suburban Oak Forest IL who started a class action lawsuit against a local bank after she was charged $3 for using an ATM which failed to disclose that she would be charged a fee. It seems that if there is no sign on the ATM or electronic message on the screen warning of a service fee that it is then a violation of the Electronic Funds Transfer Act.
As a result, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that Marquette Bank preferred to offer a cash settlement rather than be subjected to additional legal fees to fight the suit, with a judge expected to rule in September. The reported settlement amount for this woman (and other users of that specific ATM) is supposedly $90,000. While I have a big problem with the law firm supposedly getting $27,000 of this money for its legal fees (I’d love to see documentation on the actual cost of filing this lawsuit!), that is for another discussion.
So now you are asking, “What does this have to do with me as a realty agent / lender?”. My answer is, nothing directly. My point here is that here was a woman consumer using her local ATM that figures to wind up with many times over the $3 she was charged, perhaps over $1,000, because she stepped up and complained.
I searched and did not find this story in other parts of the country, which I find surprising. But I was a realty agent or mortgage lender, I would be all over this story in communications with my current and potential clients in my database. It’s time they start checking the ATM machines they use to make certain there is a notice of fees involved. If not, there is now legal precedent which could bring them potentially $1,000 or more.
Even if they don’t find any ATM’s in violation, they will tell their friends about this. As a result, this gives these consumers at least one chance to mention and recall YOUR name and affiliation when they do. And doing this costs you nothing, while you get a group of people telling others that “my Prudential agent told me about this……”.
You might also suggest that if they can find a violation and collect a few thousand dollars they can put it into a home improvement to increase the value of their property for when the time comes to sell.
Trust me when I tell you this is better information for potential customers than negative statistics about last month’s local real estate market.
Now back to watching for stories that actually can help us all generate business in this real estate market………
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