Hello, any readers in Arizona and California

>> Thursday, July 31, 2008

UPDATE 2008-08-02--DOWNEY IS TAKING STEPS IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION: For the record, according to Jim, he has received an apology from Downey that meets the conditions he set for the company. Being Jim, I don't think he accepted a half-assed response, either.

This leaves me with a bit of a question about my post here. Most of the reasons for it are obvious, but one (possibly less-obvious) reason for posting it was to thicken the webbing the googlebots would have to cover. Nobody knows how this works, not exactly, but lots of people linking to Jim's comments theoretically raises their page rank, making it more likely people will read his comments on the matter.

If Jim is satisfied with their apology, it seems fair to remove the post and let this bump in the internet go down. The liberal in me believes in forgiveness. And I also believe in rewarding good behavior.

On the other hand, the historian in me and the lawyer in me both believe in preserving the record.

The compromise--for now--is to leave the posting up but with this disclaimer: AS OF THIS DATE, DOWNEY S&L APPEARS TO BE TAKING STEPS IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION. And if I hear more, I'll update accordingly. Ultimately, I may take the post down.

I'm also disabling comments, because at this point I'm not seeking them.

My best thoughts to the Reitmer family, and my thanks to Downey if they're fixing things.

The bulk of my readers, I realize, are members of the UCF and therefore have already read the post and comments at Jim Wright's Stonekettle Station about the actions of Downey Savings And Loan, a bank with operations in Arizona and California.

But the internet is a wonderfully winding place, and it's possible a reader might stray in who hasn't read Jim's post.

The short version is: a young Navy Hospital Corpsman named Steve Reitmer was killed serving his country in Afghanistan. His family received a check from the government to help defray funeral expenses and support them while other benefits are processed. The family attempted to conduct their financial transactions through Downey S&L, which placed a hold on the check.

Downey cited banking regulations, which may or may not be legitimate--there's some difference of opinion on this score, and I don't practice banking law.* What is incontrovertible is that Downey's public response to criticism has been less-than-stellar, and that one or more of Downey's employees have responded to Jim's entry by acting like insensitive assholes. Comments on Jim's blog included this pearl:

Waaa, waaa, I should be able to walk into any institution and get $100,000 or whatever I want because something horrible happened to me. Cry me a river, loser. This is just another example of people trying to bully institutions to get their way, and you're a schmuck for trying to help it. They (Downey) should have behaved better? What in your moronic opinion is better? Handing out cash to people that kick & scream when they don't get their way?

Yes, that's how somebody posting a comment from a Downey S&L IP describes a grieving family whose son died in service to his country--as bullies and losers throwing tantrums.


Now, I'm here in North Carolina. But you might be reading this from Arizona or California, the two states where Downey's website says they do business. So if you're reading this from one of these locales, or if you do business with Downey, I'd ask you to do two things.

First, I'd ask you to read Jim's post on the subject. Actually, I'd ask you to that regardless. And if you have a comment, post it for crying out loud.

Second, I'd ask you to contact your local branch of Downey--this is the thing for you to do if you're in an area where they do business, natch--and ask the manager what he thinks of the whole thing. And if you're not satisfied with the answer you get (well, maybe this is a third thing), ask yourself if you want to do business with these people.

I wouldn't.

*I'm skeptical Downey's claims have any merit. But, assuming arguendo they do, that doesn't excuse Downey employees from acting like assholes and treating a grieving family like shit.


Jim Wright Thursday, July 31, 2008 at 11:40:00 PM EDT  

Thanks, Eric.

As I've said elsewhere, this particular kerfuffle has provided hours of amusement here at Stonekettle Station - but, as your post pointed out, it becomes far less amusing when you realize that this is exactly how at least one employee of DS&L views the family of a fallen service member - as losers, whiners, and bullies.

What I find ironic is that this commenter attempted to take me to task for badmouthing his/her employer, and managed to convince me that they are far worse than I originally thought.

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