Marketplace Scratch Pad

Following up

Scott Jagow Dec 23, 2009

I’m following up on a couple of posts from yesterday. First, I wrote about Marketplace editor Paddy Hirsch’s bank being seized and the voicemail hell he endured trying to get some answers. Well, the bank that took over heard Paddy on Marketplace last night and called to apologize.

Paddy says the regional manager of OneWest told him the bank was interested in being more like the failed bank, First Federal, in the way it deals with customers. Nothing like a little national air time to encourage good behavior. Here’s what Paddy said yesterday about his choice to go with First Federal originally:

Bob Moon: You have a relationship with your bank? That’s a quaint concept.

Hirsch: It may be too you, Bob, if you bank at one of these large behemoths. But to me it was a very good relationship, very important to me. And I purposely opted to join a small bank when I arrived in California, because I didn’t like dealing with the big banks and the way they treated customers — or didn’t treat them as it were. And I got to know the president there. I got to know all the people at the local branches. And it was great, because I got a human being on the phone every time I called. And the difference is dramatic.

Paddy spent 15 minutes trying to get a person on the phone at OneWest and was treated to loud, obnoxious hold music instead. After the phone call from the regional manager, Paddy says we’ll see. He’ll try back again in January and see if he gets stonewalled again. Then, it’s straight to a credit union. I’ve encouraged him to check out mine anyway. Love the credit union. More from Paddy here.

The other post that prompted some response was about the Senate’s proposed tanning tax, which would slap a 10% tax on patrons of indoor tanning salons. The tanning salon industry is vigorously fighting this, and I heard from the group, Smart Tan, which laid out its argument:

The tax will 40-50 percent short of delivering the revenue its proponents promised as they overestimated the annual revenue of the indoor tanning market.

The tax unfairly targets female consumers, who make up more than two-thirds of tanning clients and to the thousands of women who own the majority of America¹s indoor tanning salons.

Smart Tan estimates as many as 1000 U.S. salons could close as a result of the tax in 2010 resulting in more than 9000 lost jobs nationwide.

I don’t know where they get these numbers from; I rarely pay attention to lobbyist numbers. But I still find the whole idea of a tax on indoor tanning completely arbitrary. There are much more significant health habits that require our attention first.

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