How I Game The Banking System

An anonymous Internet poster explains his alternative to traditional banks and credit unions.

 
 

The Internet is home to many ideas, good and bad. Some illuminate the future of modern life, some not so much. The following likely falls into the latter category. It’s a weird one.

Last week, an anonymous user of the online forum 4chan posted an alt-banking manifesto and how-to guide titled "First National Bank of Gamestop." Hardly the second coming of the Banking Act of 1933, the post explained the man’s disgust with the overdraft fees common in his experience with banks and credit unions. He outlined an alternative, one he claims to employ, where he parks his money at branches of the video game retailer GameStop. The user claims to preorder and prepay for copies of unreleased games as a way of depositing money and then returns them for a full refund as a means of making a withdrawal.

Here's how his GameStop system works:

  • The deposit: He receives his paycheck and preorders unreleased video games.
  • The withdrawal: When he needs money, he goes to the nearest GameStop and returns the preordered slips for a refund.
  • The convenience: There are no fees for opening an "account," the lines are shorter than most teller lines, many GameStops stay open later than banks and credit unions, and, according to the poster, "GameStops are just as prevalent as banks in my town."

It should be noted, this post appeared on March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, a holiday celebrated by some with all-day booze-fests. It's not unreasonable to suspect a pint or 10 of green beer could have inspired the post and its logic. That being said, frustration with the banking system did not end with Bank Transfer Day, and credit unions — as great as they are —  are not a panacea for 100% of America's disgruntled consumers. As technology advances and new alternatives become more prevalent, consumers’ banking choices are restricted only by the limits of their imaginations.

This consumer expects branches to stay open later, he wants shorter lines, and he wants low to nonexistant fees. Many credit unions meet these demands, it's just a matter of informing the public. Financial education and community outreach are pillars of the credit union way, this poster is a prime example of a disenfranchised member who needs to be shown the light. With alternatives abound, awareness of the credit union and its connection to community is all the more important. 

Below is a transcript of the post with expletives removed:

First National Bank Of Gamestop

Does anyone else use Gamestop as a bank?

I got really pissed off with US Bank because I kept overdrafting my account even though I opted out, and the same thing happened with my credit union when I got a debit card.

Now whenever I get paid, I go preorder a whole s--- load of games. Whenever I need money, I go to the nearest gamestop and ask for my money back on the game I don’t want and make a withdrawal. The lines are shorter at gamestop than at the bank and I can trade in old games and have money go straight to my savings account. Gamestops are just as prevalent as banks in my town, and I work at a mall so it’s even more convenient than running an errand to the bank or using an ATM and getting charged.

The gamestop people are starting to catch on that I’m just moving money around and only buying one preordered game a year, if that, but there isn’t s--- they can do about it. The best part is, since I always preorder every game coming out, I’m still guaranteed to get all the exclusive content whether or not I’m sure I want a certain game. It’s like they’re rewarding me to for banking with them.

Posts on 4chan are available for a limited time only. "First National Bank Of Gamestop" is no longer viewable on the site, but here is a screenshot, including expletives, of the post.

4chan

 
 

March 27, 2014


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Comments

 
 
 
  • Sounds like a great idea, until he needs to benefit from some of the consumer protection regulations that apply to banks and CUs (and result in costs which must be offset by fees), or when the company suddenly changes it policy and the guy can’t get money out to pay rent. Also, if the company fails he could not look to FDIC or NCUA. I don’t think there is really much new or innovative about this, it is just like using “lay away” as a savings account without the intention of purchasing the product. Not exactly an advisable practice, but lots of lower income people do it.
    Anonymous