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Gold Coast Bank says it's a safe harbor from debit fees

Joe Perri, president and chief executive of Gold

Joe Perri, president and chief executive of Gold Coast Bank in Islandia. (Sept. 15, 2011) Photo Credit: Heather Walsh

Bank of America’s debit card fees have given a small, Long Island competitor a big opportunity.

Joe Perri, chief executive of Gold Coast Bank, wants to show his company will “handhold customers” instead of snatch fees from their hands.

He and his staff began brainstorming Friday for a catch phrase that will go on new banners at the street-side windows of his Islandia bank headquarters and East Setauket and Huntington branches. 

“I’d like to get a nickel and dime and say ‘We won’t nickel and dime you’ and give nickels and dimes to all my customers,” Perri said. “I look on it as an opportunity to make the public look at a bank like us, where we can handhold our customers.” 

Bank of America said it will start charging $5 monthly fees for debit cards early next year. Chase and Wells Fargo are also testing $3 per month fees in some markets. 

Since debit fees hit the news Thursday, that’s all Gold Coast customers want to talk about, begging the small bank not to follow suit, Perri said. 

Gold Coast, which caters to businesses but also has individual accounts, has about 2,000 debit card users. 

While Perri jokes, describing the debit charge as the new bailout, he’s serious about increasing the number of clients 5 to 10 percent on the back of Bank of America. 

He said Gold Coast clients who also have accounts at Bank of America have told him “This is it. I’m going to move all my accounts to you.” 

Perri is laughing all the way to his bank.

Photo: Joe Perri, president and chief executive of Gold Coast Bank. (Sept. 15, 2011)

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