The Winner Of The Bank PR Disaster Award 2010 Is..


Bank of America.

The company shouldn't give a stuff about all those WikiLeaks rumors - but it might want to review a few of this year's 'own goals'.

Bank of America came close to winning this award in 2009 for two high-profile gaffs.

Firstly, an armless man went into a Bank of America branch in Tampa, Florida, to cash a check.

Steve Valdez, who was born without arms and wears prosthetic devices, was apparently turned away - and all because he couldn't produce a thumbprint to confirm his identity! Valdez was incredulous, as he even provided two photo IDs. He later received a telephone call of apology.

Then there was the case of the manager of a Bank of America branch in Gaffney, South Carolina, who noticed flags had been left outside the office. So, in accordance with what she claimed were the bank's rules, she removed them.

Trouble was, the flags had been placed along what was the funeral procession route for Marine Lance Corporal Chris Fowles, who was unfortunately killed from injuries he sustained in a roadside bomb explosion in Afghanistan.

The reaction in the US to this story was one of outrage, with locals renaming the company Bank of UnAmerica. The bank put it all down to a communications error. The branch manager thought that she had been hung out to dry.

Better was to come in 2010, however, and Bank of America has easily walked off with this year's award for bank PR disasters.

First up, a 46-year-old woman sued the bank over the alleged theft of her parrot, Luke. Angela Iannelli claimed that the bank wrongly repossessed her home, and that the agent acting for Bank of America trashed the place and made off with the bird.

The bank later apologized for the matter, and Luke and Mrs Iannelli were subsequently reunited.

And now, in another highly-publicized case, a Bank of America customer has filed a lawsuit against the bank claiming that she, too, was wrongfully foreclosed and that the bank's agents had changed the locks and took away all her furniture and personal stuff - including the urn on the mantle piece which contained her late husband's ashes! The customer is the appropriately named Mimi Ash.

In the meantime, The Wall Street Journal reports that it looks like Bank of America has been busy buying up hundreds of internet domain names which could be used to take the rise out of the bank or its officials.

According to the newspaper, some 439 domains that could be used for this purpose have recently been taken off the market.

Still available, for those who are interested, is We don't think that Bank of America is evil, though - just very big, which means that it's likely to hit the headlines for the wrong reasons much more than some of its smaller rivals.

Finally, on the subject on those WikiLeak rumours, CNBC quotes Rochdale Securities analyst Richard Bove, who said: 'It may just be the case here that the sound is greater than the fury. It is highly questionable that (WikiLeaks founder) Mr Assange has new information about Bank of America'.

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