A growing number of American workers are confronting a frustrating predicament on payday: to get their wages, they must first pay a fee.
For these largely hourly workers, paper paychecks and even direct deposit have been replaced by prepaid cards issued by their employers. Employees can use these cards, which work like debit cards, at an A.T.M. to withdraw their pay.
But in the overwhelming majority of cases, using the card involves a fee. And those fees can quickly add up: one provider, for example, charges $1.75 to make a withdrawal from most A.T.M. €™s, $2.95 for a paper statement and $6 to replace a card. Some users even have to pay $7 inactivity fees for not using their cards.
These fees can take such a big bite out of paychecks that some employees end up making less than the minimum wage once the charges are taken into account, according to interviews with consumer lawyers, employees, and state and federal regulators.
Devonte Yates, 21, who earns $7.25 an hour working a drive-through station at a McDonald €™s in Milwaukee, says he spends $40 to $50 a month on fees associated with his JPMorgan Chase payroll card. €œIt €™s pretty bad, € he said. €œThere €™s a fee for literally everything you do. €
Certain transactions with the Chase pay card are free, according to a fee schedule.
Many employees say they have no choice but to use the cards: some companies no longer offer common payroll options like ordinary checks or direct deposit.
At companies where there is a choice, it is often more in theory than in practice, according to interviews with employees, state regulators and consumer advocates. Employees say they are often automatically enrolled in the payroll card programs and confronted with a pile of paperwork if they want to opt out. (via)
I certainly understand the necessity of social security and my own contributions thereto. 3
I understand the need for taxes to fund basic services and the city’s/county’s/country’s infrastructure. 4
Telethons, annual fund drives, Girl Scout cookie sales, Cheeseburger Jerry 5 begging, even those street intersection hustlers of over-sized tubes of pure sugar: right, got it, understand the (putative) economic necessity of all the above and more. 6
But ripping off perhaps a million workers or more of a percentage of their wages, workers who undoubtedly make next to nothing, merely to feed the ravenous maw of our mega-banks is just e-vil. There’s simply no other word for it.
What’s next – an air tax?
Wake up, people.
- Where I don’t outright purchase it myself. ↩
- Though, people…really? I don’t know about your plans but mine sucks; insurance companies still maintain an attitude of snotty superiority when it comes to these things, as though caries and chorioretinitis were but moral failings. ↩
- Though, again…really? Must I perpetually be flailed by political hacks upset I feel entitled to some of the retirement monies I contributed throughout my life? Must I listen to those same trough-feeders screech that the fund is insolvent
will be insolvent damn it’s THIS CLOSE to being insolventand the only way to save it is to turn all the money over to Wall Street? ↩
- And here need I point out that doesn’t include harebrained schemes like the ever deficit producing Union Station & KCP&L? ↩
- May he ever rest on a steaming bed of Wimpy burgers… ↩
- Regardless whether I contribute, of course. ↩