JPMorgan Chase, the country’s largest bank, attempted to offer its financially strapped customers some advice Monday. It quickly backfired.
If their balances are low, the bank suggested customers, “make coffee at home” or “eat the food that’s already in the fridge.”
JPMorgan Chase’s brief attempt at levity turned into a social media misadventure with some of the banking industry’s biggest critics, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a presidential candidate, denouncing the tweet and asking Jamie Dimon, the bank’s chief executive, to apologize.
“Hey @Chase, try paying your workers more. Families aren’t spending frivolously; they’re trying to pay rent,” Rep. Katie Porter, a freshman Democrat from California, said on Twitter. Dimon should apologize, but “if this tweet does reflect Mr. Dimon’s views, an apology won’t cut it. Might be a #TimetoRetireThursday,” Porter said.
Warren noted in a tweet that JPMorgan had received a $25 billion taxpayer bailout during the global financial crisis. “@Chase: why aren’t customers saving money?” Warren’s tweet said. “Everyone: seriously?”
Sen. Sherrod Brown (Ohio), ranking Democrat on the powerful Banking Committee, weighed in Tuesday. “It wasn’t really #MondayMotivation to mock working Americans who are just trying to get by, @Chase — particularly when your CEO pockets $28 million while some of your tellers can’t make ends meet,” Brown said on Twitter. (Dimon actually made $31 million last year. Forbes estimates his net worth at $1.4 billion.)
JPMorgan Chase, which deleted the tweet after less than three hours, declined to comment. The tweet was sent from the account of the company’s consumer bank, which has more than 365,000 followers on Twitter.
“Our #MondayMotivation is to get better at #MondayMotivation tweets. Thanks for the feedback Twitter world,” the bank said on Twitter.
This follows an awkward exchange between Dimon and Porter during a House hearing this month. Porter had asked how a mother with one child could survive on the bank’s minimum wage — $16.50 an hour — after calculating the cost of child care and other expenses. Such a full-time employee would end each month more than $500 “in the red,” she said.
“How should she manage this budget shortfall while she is working full-time at your bank?” Porter asked.
“I don’t know; I would have to think about that,” Dimon responded at the time.
The exchange has been viewed more than 1 million times online, putting Dimon and the bank, which reported a profit of $32 billion last year, at the center of a growing national debate about whether enough corporate wealth is being passed along to employees. Banks such as JPMorgan Chase that received billions of dollars in taxpayer bailouts should be doing more to help the public, critics say.
Dimon later defended the bank’s wages to reporters. “We take very good care of our entry-level jobs: $35,000 to $37,000 per year, medical, retirement,” he said.
This story has been updated.