EDITOR'S NOTE: Crime-related issues are a concern for just about any business, particularly those operating in crime-ridden neighborhoods. It’s understandable that a Starbucks or a McDonald’s would shutter their stores to protect employees, property, and customers. As private businesses, their shareholders have the right to simply say “no” to providing services. Banks, like Chase, too, are businesses beholden to shareholders. But ATM locations don’t have “human” employees to protect. Plus, it is exceedingly rare for an ATM to get stolen or broken into. It’s still Chase’s prerogative to close up shop, as unfavorable as that may sound. But what’s chilling is the extent to which a bank can control individuals’ access to their own funds. And ATM closures are a reminder of depositor vulnerability. It reminds people that their money, once deposited in a bank, is not entirely owned by the depositor. And if you add the central bank (the Fed) to the list, the picture gets even worse, as its ownership over the value of your money makes you wonder what ownership, if at all, you have over your own accumulated wealth.
The large consumer bank caught a lot of heat online following the policy move.
Rising crime is a difficult problem to solve, and one company thinks it has the solution to at least protect its bottom line.
Over the past several years, violent crime has been on the rise in many of the biggest cities in the U.S. It was a key campaigning topic during the 2022 midterms, with the murder rate increasing by 30% between 2019-2020.
While various models reveal conflicting data as to whether all types of violent crime are up nationally, voters have sounded the subject as one of their most important issues. Six in 10 voters put violent crime as one of their top voting issues in October 2022.
As politicians argue about policies to mitigate their city's issues, some companies have been quietly shuttering locales in some of the most dangerous areas across America.
Starbucks And McDonald's Have Made Comments On Violent Crime
Both Starbucks (SBUX) - Get Free Report and McDonald's (MCD) - Get Free Report have tens of thousands of locations across the U.S. But as social media captures issues and dust ups instantaneously, and some cities plunge into deeper economic turmoil, the corporations decided to shutter shops in more vulnerable areas.
In July, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said the company would be closing stores in unsafe areas.
"Starbucks is a window into America. We have stores in every community and we are facing things in which the stores were not built for...We're listening to our people and closing stores, & this is just the beginning. There are gonna be many more," he can be heard saying during an internal company meeting later posted on Twitter.
EXCLUSIVE: Today at an internal meeting CEO Howard Schultz said: "Starbucks is a window into America... we are facing things in which the stores were not built for... we're listening to our people and closing stores, & this is just the beginning. There are gonna be many more. 🧵 pic.twitter.com/E9ayQqSmB8
— Ari Hoffman (@thehoffather) July 13, 2022
Schultz cited issues like mental illness, drug use, crime, and homelessness as a reason why his company would permanently shutter stores in some areas. Starbucks officially called the problems "challenging incidents that make it unsafe to continue to operate."
McDonald's management made similar comments in September, with CEO Chris Kempczinski calling out Chicago for its unsafe conditions for business. At the Economic Club of Chicago, Kempczinski called the metropolis where the Hamburger House is headquartered a "city in crisis."
"We have violent crime that's happening in our restaurants," he said. "We're seeing homelessness issues in our restaurants. We're having drug overdoses that are happening in our restaurants. So we see in our restaurants, every single day, what's happening in society at large."
He added that some workers call in saying they feel unsafe coming to work on some days.
Chase Now Making Similar Crime Mitigation Moves
On Monday, JP Morgan Chase (JPM) - Get Free Report said it wold be taking similar measures to keep its customers safe, after one disgruntled customer complained on Twitter that they couldn't access an ATM late at night.
"Our apologies. We decide to close several ATM vestibules at 5PM or 6PM, aligning the hours of service to that of the normal branch hours, due to rising crime and vagrancy that occurred in these previously 24/7 vestibules. Send us a DM if you have other concerns or feedback," the big bank tweeted.
Our apologies. We decide to close several ATM vestibules at 5PM or 6PM, aligning the hours of service to that of the normal branch hours, due to rising crime and vagrancy that occurred in these previously 24/7 vestibules. Send us a DM if you have other concerns or feedback. ^PE https://t.co/znUu1VJn9r
— Chase Support (@ChaseSupport) January 18, 2023
Unsurprisingly, many users weighed in on the change.
"I thought 10:00pm was an inconvenience, but 5pm is ridiculous. You need to reimburse your customers for additional fees because you can’t provide security at these locations," one user tweeted.
"If ATMs aren't available when the bank is closed, what's the point?? Given your bigshots' salaries there's clearly room for security where it's deemed required," another user chimed in.
Originally published by Jena Greene at TheStreet