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PFFCU Changes Eligibility Requirements for the Worst

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After I posted on PFFCU's 4.00% 5-year CDs on June 28th, readers reported being able to qualify for credit union membership via the Weavers Way Cooperative Association, an association that was allowing anyone to join with a $30 fee. Last Friday morning I confirmed with the credit union that Weavers Way Co-op members were able to join the credit union. During Friday there were signs that the credit union was changing their mind. Later Friday morning a reader commented that he was told by PFFCU that they were putting all new accounts through Weavers Way Co-op "on hold" because of a surge of applications from all over the country. On Tuesday after the holiday weekend, the credit union changed the list of eligible associations in their Membership group page from

Weavers Way Cooperative Association

to

Weavers Way Cooperative Association
  --must be a resident of PA, NJ or DE

Update 7/29/10: PFFCU has made yet another change. PFFCU now allows only PA co-op members. Here is what is now shown on the list of associations:

Weavers Way Cooperative Association
  --must be a resident of Pennsylvania

Only Weavers Way Co-op members who live in PA NJ or DE can now qualify for credit union membership.

In the past credit unions have sometimes updated their membership lists on their websites to make them consistent with their official charter. This appeared to have happened at PFFCU in May 2009 when they used to list Pennsylvania SPCA members as being eligible to join the credit union. After receiving many applications, PFFCU moved the PA SPCA from the association list to the employer list. In this latest case, I find it hard to believe that PFFCU's charter specifically limits credit union membership to only Tri-State members of Weavers Way. In my opinion, PFFCU does not want out-of-area members.

I know the NCUA has cracked down on credit unions which extended membership to more people than what their official charters allowed. I don't know if the NCUA ever does the opposite: cracks down on credit unions which restrict membership to fewer people than what the charter allows.

As I mentioned in my weekly summary, there have been similar cases. One example was at MidWest America Federal Credit Union. For a while people were able to join MidWest America via an association and open its 7.01% reward checking account (rate has fallen). The credit union changed the eligibility to require not only the association membership but also to require that you live within a certain distance from one of their branches.

In another example the credit union didn't limit membership, but it limited the products that certain members could qualify for. The product in this case was a 6.01% reward checking account, and the credit union was Golden Plains in Kansas. For a little while, people from outside of Kansas could join Golden Plains via an association and open its 6.01% reward checking account (it's still at 6.01%!). However, Golden Plains limited their reward checking account to only members who are Kansas residents.

I'm afraid when a credit union wants to limit membership or limit certain accounts, they have many ways to accomplish that. It's sad to see a credit union trying so hard to limit membership.

For more info on PFFCU and its 4.00% 5-year CDs, please refer to the following posts:


  Tags: Police and Fire Federal Credit Union

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Comments
11 Comments.
Comment #1 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
just spoke to pffcu and on a 5yr@4% cd.  If you break out early, the penalty is 365 days of interest!!!!!

3
Comment #2 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Sadly it isn't that surprising. Like most banks and credit unions I am sure PFFCU is awash in liquidity and deposits these days and doesn't have a profitable way to put hugely increased deposits to work.

Perhaps they think it makes more sense for them to offer better rates to a smaller group than have to cut their rates to the point that they remain solvent as a much larger institution. Because, let's face it, most of the rate chasers that bring in money from far away don't become potential loan customers.

3
Comment #3 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I always enjoy reading Ken's post including this one - just state the facts without any assumption; Assumption is not provable and is nothing more than a guess.

-5
Comment #5 by dbl118 posted on
dbl118
This is interesting.  I don't know a lot about credit unions, but I do know a lot about Weaver's Way.  They are a small market in a good section of Philadelphia that focuses on local gardening and they are environmentally conscious.  They are kind of like a small Whole Foods.  They just recently opened up a second store and had to raise capital for that.  I'm guessing they didn't see this coming.  You got to understand Weaver's Way is not the same thing as Bank of America.  Weaver's Way is genuinely out there to help the community (while staying profitable) and there are no millionaires CEOs associated with it.  It's not sad at all to see Weaver's Way limiting their membership when people are joining for the pure sport of taking advantage of them.  The point is to join to become a member of the community and if people are abusing that for profit that's legal, but WW has every right to protect itself.  Weaver's Way does not need 100 million dollars to function, and they want their money coming from vested customers.

-5
Comment #6 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
dbl118 - #5,

As readers commented "Weavers Way Coop itself has absolutely NO residency restriction on its membership, as they accept members from all 50 states."  PFFCU is the one changed the requirement (not WW).

From consumer perspective, for those out-of-area member applied before PFFCU made that a requirement should still get accounts since they applied before that requirement. A reader's comments "The rules in effect at the time of application should apply, not new rules they later made" is considered a common business courtesy that represents a genuine respect for both sides. But PFFCU failed on this twice (PSPCA/WW coop).

5
Comment #7 by Alan (anonymous) posted on
Alan
Having talked several times with Weavers Way Coop I am assured (by them) that their bylaws continue to provide for memberships from all 50 states.  The restriction re:  Weavers Way on the PFFCU website is 100% due to PFFCU's actions, not Weavers Way's.  The added funds invested as memberships strengthen their Coop.  I would find it unconscionable for a member of PFFCU to seek a refund from Weavers Way when they paid the membership in good faith and were rewarded with a letter of confirmation of membership in good faith to provide to PFFCU.  Those PFFCU applicants who had their membership denied, might feel justified in seeking a refund of their $30.  In my case, I would have considered the $30 to have been an investment in an organization doing very good work and not sought a refund (which has occurred at another CU).

6
Comment #8 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Does this credit union allow initial desposit by credit card?

If yes, the transaction will be treated as purchase or cash advance?

-1
Comment #9 by tommyvjr posted on
tommyvjr
for anonymous #8  if you use your credit card, then it will be treated as cash advance,  it happen to me before,  NEVER AGAIN FOR ME!!!!

0
Comment #10 by Anonymous1000 (anonymous) posted on
Anonymous1000
It seems that you must go to one of the Weavers Way Co-op stores to get a >>membership<< application form to apply and get a membership number.  There doesn't seem to be a way to get the form on-line.  The on-line >>payment<< form is for Paypal and it requires a membership number.

1
Comment #11 by robkrow posted on
robkrow
For Weavers Way membership into PFFCU, eligibility is now limited to Pennsylvania residents only per CSR and web site.  Residents of NJ and DE are no longer eligible. 

1
Comment #12 by Anonymous1000 (anonymous) posted on
Anonymous1000
UPDATE!!!   now you MUST be a resident of PENNSYLVANIA if you want get a PFFCU account by being a member of Weavers Way Coop.

And perhaps PFFCU will soon say you must be a resident of Philidelphia and live near Arch Street (at the rate they keep restricting).  ;o)

So check the PFFCU web page before you use paypal to join Weavers Way to get membership access to PFFCU!!! 

I bet PFFCU is being overloading with requests.  I don't blame PFFCU for limiting access via Weavers Way.  PFFCU needs to keep their business under control.  It is frustrating for us outsiders because things keep changing so quickly.  Probably just a frustrating for PFFCU.  Oh well.  Time to look elsewhere.

1