Corporate Douchebag of the Week: Chase Bank — Auburn, WA branch
This news story perfectly articulates and crystallizes what’s wrong with the Corporate States of America, Inc. When a large corporation commits gross negligence, there’s no accountability whatsoever. No penalties; no need to reimburse their victim(s) — Nada. Zilch. The individual who was victimized by this particular case of corporate negligence, on the other hand, spent four days in jail, got fired from his job and had his car impounded.
In Auburn, WA, Ikenna Njoku — a 28-year-old construction worker and homeowner — was planning to use his first time home buyer tax rebate to pay off his car. He arranged to have the rebate check deposited directly into his Chase Bank account. When the rebate check arrived, the bank mailed him a cashier’s check for $8,463.21.
When he went to his neighborhood Chase branch to cash the check, the trouble started. Even though the check had his name and current address on it, and the check had been issued by JP Morgan Chase, the bank person who handles large checks became suspicious. Ikenna Njoku said:
“I was embarrassed. She asked me what I did for a living. Asked me where I got the check from, looked me up and down—like ‘you just bought a house in Auburn, really?’ She didn’t believe that.”
She took the check, along with Njoku’s driver’s license and credit cards, and showed them to somebody higher up. After being kept waiting for fifteen minutes, Njoku left the bank to get some errands done. When he came back, the bank was closed. He called customer service and asked what he should do, and they told him to go back to the bank the next day and get his money.
When he went back the next day, police were waiting to arrest him on forgery charges — writing a fraudulent check. Njoku said:
“I was like — you’re making a mistake, you’re making a mistake, don’t take me to jail, I got work tomorrow. I can’t afford to miss work.”
He was taken to jail on a Thursday. The next day, Chase realized they’d made a mistake — the check was legitimate. They called the police station and left a message with whoever answered the phone. “OK, I did my job. Next.”
The person who should have acted on the message was off for the day and nobody else got the message. So Njoku spent the entire weekend in jail and was released on Monday. The Auburn Police Commander said Chase could have done a lot more to let them know they’d locked up an innocent person:
“We do have a main line that comes into our front office. There are ways to reach someone 24/7 at a police department.”
While Njoku was in jail, his car — which he’d parked at the Chase parking lot — had been towed and impounded. And the car was auctioned off and sold before he had a chance to come up with the impoundment fees.
Oh, and he was fired from his job because he didn’t show up for work that previous Friday. Since, you know, he was wrongly in jail at the time.
Not only is Chase not guilty (technically) of any wrongdoing — they haven’t even made any hollow attempts to offer a phony apology to Ikenna Njoku.
But remember now — Corporations are People.