LONDON — The death of an overworked 21-year-old intern is forcing Bank of America Merrill Lynch to reevaluate its corporate practices. Hoping to forestall the public outrage that followed its ill-conceived 2011 plan to charge customers a monthly debit card fee, the bank is promising to refund any past and future ATM transaction fees levied on the late Moritz Erhardt or his bereaved family.
“If there’s one thing we’ve learned from our response to the global financial crisis we helped trigger, it’s that customers won’t stand for ATM fees. So long as we are prepared to waive these fees, there’s nothing for which the public won’t forgive us,” said a spokesperson for the bank.
The promise of landing a high-paying job after an internship has led to an unhealthy culture of overtime, lack of sleep, and stimulant use, all of which may have contributed to a seizure in the shower that appears to have taken Erhardt’s life after he worked until 6am a total of eight times over his last two weeks. “I have not got any comment to make on our work patterns,” said John McIvor, head of international communications for the bank, dismissing any fundamental changes to the internship program, which he considers “too big to fail.”
Erhardt, like hundreds of summer interns working in the City of London’s investment banks, was subjected to grueling 100-hour minimum workweeks and back-to-back all-nighters in the office. Records of Erhardt’s bank account indicated that much of his roughly $4,200 monthly stipend was used up by a steady stream of 5-hour ENERGY shots and the ATM fees incurred for using his native German bankcard at local branches around the city.