2013 Consumer Complaints Regarding METABANK Still Pouring In

Submitted: Fri, September 20, 2013

  • Reported in Arizona 
  • Meta Bank, Texas


Meta Bank Ace Elite Card blocking card poor customer service Texas

 Beware of cards issued by Meta Bank.  They will put a block on your card and not even tell you.

I just moved and got the card to have my job paycheck put on it.

They put a block on my card and did not even tell me and will not remove the block because I just moved and do not have any bills put in my name yet.

They said they put a block on it because I used the direct deposit.

Beware they put blocks on it for alot of reasons and you may go to use your card and it will not work.

(That pretty much explains everything. Need we say more??!!!)

  • Submitted: Mon, February 11, 2013
  • Updated:  Tue, March 12, 2013
  • Reported By: S. T. — Cicero Illinois United States of America

InternetUnited States of America

  • Credit Card Fraud

Netspend Meta Bank ILLEGAL Forced Transaction Allowed – REFUSING to Refund! Internet


First off let me start by saying that my home has 3 disabled people in it and our 3 checks are direct deposited to one netspend card and it is our ONLY income.    That being said…

January 27th a “Budget Rental” put through a forced transaction on an old transaction that WAS SUPPOSED TO BE COMPLETED back in December! They put it through for $4,852.20!

My home ONLY has an income of a whopping $2,100/mo!!!!!

I have NEVER made a transaction THAT large EVER.

I called in and put in a transaction dispute RIGHT AWAY the second the transaction showed up on my phone, THEN I ALSO submitted it online as a double back up… They told me 3-5 days, 3 days later I called they said 7-10 business days and it would be a waste of my time to call before the 11th of February… So here it is the 11th of February, we are now homeless thanks to this ONE ILLEGAL transaction and they tell me THEY HAVE NO UPDATE and that they will call me back when they know something… My family will be once again in the street on Valentine’s day…

and they are still not sure whether or not they are going to reverse an ILLEGAL TRANSACTION… Ummmmmm hello the fact that my account ISN’T supposed to be ABLE to be overdrawn by more than $10 and the fact that it came through on a lost/stolen card AFTER it was reported lost/stolen and the fact that it was done as a FORCED Transaction which AGAIN… is ILLEGAL…

OBVIOUSLY it wasn’t authorized!!!!!!!!!!! Being that they are SUPPOSEDLY FDIC INSURED They SHOULD have been able to reverse the charge within a day or two!

(Meta Bank isn’t looking out for the best interests of their customer base as seen here. META BANK has not acted as a friend nor as a good neighbor. Please do not do business with METABANK for your own good. These two stories should be adequate warning in and of themselves…. Each took place in 2013. Our objection is that METABANK fails to take responsibility for the problems they cause. We find it odd that METABANK never takes responsibility for problems with their service and that METABANK fails to protect their customer base as consumers. Why would any company partner with META BANK to sell their prepaid cards for them? When customers are abused in this way, they will be forced to move along.)

More followed in that discussion:

SUBMITTED: Monday, April 22, 2013

We apologize again for the problems you have experienced. We are happy to inform you that this should be taken care of now. Thank you again for your patience. NetSpend ( This turned out to be empty talk, no problems had been resolved!!! The problem was reported on March 12, 2013 and Netspend made an empty, weak answer on on April 22, 2013)

Consumer Comments

BUDGET – AUTHOR: chickpainter – (United States of America)

Consumer Suggestion

SUBMITTED: Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Why on earth didn’t you contact Budget and raise wholly hell. I would have called everyone
and anyone who would listen including the police, FBI you make enough noise you get results.
Good luck, next time anyone plays dirty do the same. (by making noise lots of noise)

EFTA – AUTHOR: chestercheetah – (United States of America)

 Consumer Suggestion

SUBMITTED: Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Read the Electronic Funds Transfer Act  (EFTA) – it spells out what your rights are under Federal law regarding disputed electronic debit transactions.It tells what the bank’s responsibilites are and the time frames they have to respond to the problem.  If they fail to meet these guidelines, the claimant can sue them for 3x the disputed amount.

#2 Author of original report
Update: 4/22
AUTHOR: S. T.  –
SUBMITTED: Monday, April 22, 2013

To chickpainter: I tried that and they denied ANY and ALL knowledge of such a transaction being put through on their end at the office in which I did the actual rental at. The return location is at a repair shop and they never answered ANY calls so that makes it VERY difficult to raise hell with them.

To chestercheetah – thank you for that tidbit of information they have actually exceeded the limits and today we will be calling our lawyer… I’d like to see just how quickly they decide to return our stolen funds when being faced with needing to pay 3 times the initial amount!!! And just for kicks I’ll be asking him to toss in psi and suffering for my son who went through seizures and multiple infections due to the BS games they have been playing.

And to Netspend we sent letters in 3 different times before you FINALLY acknowledged receiving even one and today is the day you CLAIMED we would get our refund… And oops it’s STILL not there… So yeah you can deal with our lawyer at this point cause I have had it with the games your playing with our life.

AUTHOR: NetSpend Corporation – (United States of America)
SUBMITTED: Tuesday, February 19, 2013

We are very sorry to hear about the problems you experienced with your transaction with Budget Rental. (It took three months and most likely an attorney just to get Netspend to respond.)

Since you initially provided them with your card number in December, Budget was given authorization to charge your account. Because this was an overcharge, we can assist you with getting the funds returned through our dispute process. Please fax the requested letter to 512-531-8770 and we will provide you with an update as soon as possible.

Also, the FDIC protects depositors of insured banks located in the United States against the loss of their deposits if an insured bank fails. This does not cover regular transactions. (It took three months and most likely an attorney just to get Netspend to respond. It really doesn’t matter what any law says, but more in how corporate entities treat their customer base….. If people treated each other decently there wouldn’t be any need for laws….. Because METABANK has abused their customer base so often, it has become apparent that more laws are needed to govern and over see how banking is done.)

Again, we sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this has caused you. We hope the problems you have experienced will not bear any reflection on our company and the services we provide.

Thank you,


 ($4,852.20 is a very large amount for NETSPEND To allow through without calling their customer to alert them.

In one place we see, METABANK putting a hold on a customer’s funds because according to METABANK they had perceived Terroristic activity on that account, but here an extremely large amount is put on the card and METABANK lets it go through….. Where do consumer interests factor in at METABANK? Are we just a convenient source of an interest free loan or are we people? Netspend/Metabank was far too slow in responding to this consumer’s needs.)


netspend   Wed, February 20, 2013 

  • Reported By: M G — Houston Texas United States of America NETSPEND – Internet United States of America
  • netspend meta bank, netspend, prepaid debit card/ alternative banking Internet

*UPDATE Employee: NetSpend

I’m writing this report to let consumers know to not use netspend. This card seems decent on the service but beware.

(SERVICE?!!! That is the major complaint against using Meta Bank and any prepaid bank cards. and this kind of complaint has ocurred over a period now of what is amounting to many years)

They do not release funds as soon as there are received they are held for a day up to three to make interest. (METABANK held all of my money for one month. It was a large amount of money. It was on a travel card and the money would have been spent in increments. To get a Prepaid Card METABANK will only accept cash money; I had given METABANK cash money and they never allowed me access to my own money for the month I would be on the trip of a lifetime in Paris. I ended up living like a homeless person in Paris, in a place where English isn’t the first language and American isn’t the cultural reference point. I hadn’t worked all of my life to live in Paris as a homeless person… who would?)

You can not reach a live person because they give no option when you call the automated system you have to try multiple avenues to reach someone.

Every time I have called the representative was hard to understand and they charge you.50 cents.

The online customer service is no better it takes literally 48 hours for a reply.

(NETSPEND and METABANK are one in the same. The concept of a prepaid bank card is that a consumer hands over their own cash money for an anonymous corporate and likely rich entity to get an interest free loan from you as their customer. In return, you the customer get abused.  Once they have your cash money, they have all the power over your access to your own cash money. False advertising, false and misleading promises of services that simply don’t exist, and outright lies, hooks in customers. METABANK gets a partner company to market their prepaid bank cards for them. The partner company basically gives  METABANK full access to their customer list. The partner company’s customer may feel comfortable buying the PREPAID CARD because they have done business with that entity for many years. The partner company has been mislead by METABANK too. However, Meta Bank does make some money for the partner entity and appears to treat them well. The partner entities’ CEOs are basically courted by METABANK’s CEOs so their guard is down too. In the long term, the partner company will lose long term customers.)

AUTHOR: NetSpend Corporation – (United States of America)

SUBMITTED: Wednesday, February 20, 2013

We certainly hate to hear feedback like this, but we do understand your concerns.

We can assure you that deposits are posted as soon as we receive them.  The only time a deposit may not be available right away is if we need to verify some information.  This verification is only meant to protect your account and your money. ( Please note that META BANK only accepts CASH MONEY to load or re-load their prepaid bank cards. Cash money is required because it is negotiable currency right away!!!)

Also, the only time a balance inquiry fee will be charged is if you are contacting us to check your balance or to see if a deposit posted.  We offer free services. such as text message alerts, to avoid this fee.

(METABANK has full control of all of the money you hand over to them and they lie. On top of that they charge you money to ask about your own balance while METABANK/NETSPEND is getting an interest free loan from you as their customer. Text message alerts implies that you must have a cell phone to be able to bank with NETSPEND/METABANK. METABANK is a thrift bank that seeks out the most economically/finally vulnerable people in our society. Who can afford a fancy cell phone???? Think about this. METABANK/NETSPEND is not customer oriented.)

We strive to achieve a high level of customer service and continually look into ways of improving our products and service.  We hope that the problems you experienced will not bear any reflection on our company or the services we provide.

(This final paragraph seems to be overtly fawning and rather condescending because the problem has been repeated time after time. Therefore it seems to be an empty statement made in 2013…. We began following the actions of METABANK in 2009 during that CD fraud trial. That is 4 years or longer of scamming the consumer, and that is far too long and too much for the general public to bear.)

Thank you,


Submitted: Thu, October 24, 2013

Updated: Thu, October 24, 2013
Reported By: E. C. — Vermilion Ohio
Giant Eagle
4453 Liberty Ave.
Vermilion, Ohio

Category: Grocery Stores
Giant Eagle Metabank, Visa, PayPower Visa prepaid card Vermilion Ohio  

(MetaBank relies on corporate entities to sell their PREPAID CARD for them. METABANK basically courts the CEOs of the corporate entity to get them to sign on to METABANK’s collections program.) 

My neighbor gave me a Giant Eagle reloadable prepaid Visa card for $20 as a gift for some work I did for them. They just gave me the card, removed from it’s packaging, which I later read when looking at 1 in the store after the problem we encountered. The package the card came in states fees on the back, including a $6.95/mo. maintenance fee, and states it is not a gift card, although the receipt for purchase of the card, which my neighbor still had and I saw after I told them of the problem, states

“Gift card activation” and “Gift card $20.00”.

(This is fraudulent and misleading on the part of METABANK. It can’t be stated any clearer than what is written above.)

My wife went to use the card 6 weeks after we got it, as usual, we had shopped at the store many times, always forgetting to use it. When she went to use it, it would not register. the clerk said that it had to be activated. My wife got out of line, called PayPower to activate it. when she went back to pay for the purchases with the card, $13.05 was credited from the card.

(This was then not a $20 gift card, was it? So this is misleading and predatory practices on the part of METABANK.)

When she asked the clerk why not the $20, the clerk said she didn’t know. My wife said she would go to the customer service desk and inquire, another clerk came over and told her she would have to call the number on the card. My wife asked if other’s had the same problem, and the clerk said yes.

(We have also seen other consumers struggle with prepaid cards at gas stations and in all the places where people would expect to pay using them. This was a gift card for a specific grocery store that fell for the pitch that METABANK had given them.)

After calling PayPower later, she was told of the $6.95 monthly maintenance fee deducted as it was over a month the card was used after it was purchased.

(METABANK/PAYPOWER was getting an interest free loan for the gift card for over one month and then they want to charge the customer more…. what if the customer had tried to use the card too soon???!!!)

In short, my neighbor’s fault for buying a card with these fees, and mine for not using it sooner. But really, you give them free use of your money from the time of purchase of the card until the time you use it, people not using all of the money on the card and losing the card and forgetting to replace it, on top of the fees chipping away at your balance. And add in the potential for anyone to be able to get the numbers off of the cards hanging on the racks in the stores and accessing the accounts after they are purchased and money loaded on to them by someone else.

(Yes, it is a banking gimmick to keep the consumer confused so that the bank can make a huge profit. The person who was scammed here gets the full implication for why these cards are in reality a piece of crap for consumers.)

My only recourse, I’m not shopping at Giant Eagle anymore (Go Meijer’s and Aldi!), and I have cancelled my Visa card.

( We also dropped all further contact with the partner corporate entity who sold us our prepaid bank cards. This is what I have been warning potential partner companies for a long time. Yes, I understand that your CEOs have been courted by the CEOs of METABANK PREPAID CARDS so that the partner entity was taken in too. I have warned you that our only recourse as consumers is to stop doing business with the entity who sold us the PREPAID CARD in the first place. This report only highlights the fact that in the short term the prepaid cards may seem to be a boon, but in the long term METABANK’s practices will cause you to lose customers.)


MetaBank and Social Security


    • Submitted: Mon, October 07, 2013
    • Updated: Mon, October 07, 2013
  • Reported by HC from— Acworth Georgia

 This past year my wife has had a terrible problem involving Social Security, MetaBank, and Fraud in regard to her Mother’s Social Security direct Deposit.

My wife’s mother suffers from Alzheimer’s.

There is a verified ring of individuals that are fraudulantly trying to move Social Security Direct Deposits from Wells Fargo to MetaBank.

We have filed numerous police reports to the aithorities local, state, and National.

Moreover, we have been to Social Security five times this year in regard to this matter.

At first, SS told us that she was ‘Auto enrolled.”

Next, SSA told us that her mother agreed to be enrolled.

Then we found out that farad was commitied in regard to opening an account with Metabank in regard to SSA direct deposit.

My wife has POA in her mother’s finacial and medical affairs.

She gave Social Securitiy Administration copies and we have discussed this matter with the same SS Representative several times.

Additionally, we had protocols set up with SS to alert us if anything was changed without authorization of the POA and yet it continues to happen.

My mother in law has had direct deposit of her SS for decades and somehow someone can get into SS and re-router her check to Metabank.

I cannot prove this, but I am starting to think someone within SS is involved. When we contact SS we get the usual runaround and denials that actions neccessary actions were taken.

(We are beginning to wonder about kickbacks!!!)

We watched the Repesentative input the data and information and have her name, contact number, and extension.

So guess what? We cannot get in contact with her on that number and extension she gave us and have left three messages for her to call us back.

I won’t hold my breath. No surprise at this point. The authorities have Identified and arrested a ring of individuals involved. Seems the ring leader is located in Jamaica and is untouchable.

My wife and I are so frustrated and angry because her mother depends on SS to live and survive monthly.

(Because METABANK basically runs a scam, their own internal policies seem to contribute to this success of this kind of a scam. There is a need for better regulation of our banking system. In recent years, we have been inundated with phony phone calls out of Jamaica and from other toll free callers. No one seems to be watching out for consumers’ interests in the USA, but the time has come and it is now!!!)

SSA always acts as if this is the first time they have heard such a thing.

( Who heads up the SSA? They must be notified and this problem must be addressed immediately. Please contact all of your elected officials to make them aware of this new twist by METABANK or using METABANK…. this is totally unacceptable!!!)

I wonder how many elderly individuals this is happening to in regard to SSA and Meatbank. It would suffice to say that this has been a nightmare and SSA is involved to some degree. We need help in this matter with the media and legal advice.

(Do contact the media immediately!!! This needs to be stopped and corrected.)


    • Submitted: Thu, October 25, 2012
    • Updated: Thu, October 25, 2012
  • Reported By: ns — Massachusetts United States of America

InternetUnited States of America

Netspend Meta Bank: they charge a transaction fee for swiping the card

Also, when I used it at a gas station, I had a $65 balance. Then I spent $15 and now my balance is $15.

(Please note that the amount left is the exact same amount that was spent. Is METABANK doing this purposely or are they hiring incompetent people who just happen to accidentally make money for METABANK? We have observed this situation at MetaBank before.)

50 bucks magically gone Netspend blamed the gas station. I bank using the Internet with MetaBank.

(Please note that METABANK also charges customers who phone to ask what their balance is. This is the biggest nightmare for consumers that we have ever seen.)


They charge a transaction fee for swiping the card also I used it at a gas station I had a $65 balance. I spent $15 and now my balance is $15.
50 bucks magically gone and  Netspend Meta Bank blamed the gas station.

I got the receipt and Netspend pretty much told me to screw off.  (This is the kind of customer service that we have encountered before and complained about over and over again.)

That’s not the first time they have pulled this and now I cant get my money back. I have been ripped off by Netspend Meta Bank as they have nickel and dimed me again.

(We sincerely hope that you will complain to every media outlet in your area and to every elected official for your area. May what happened to you never happen to another person)

 Marketing is basically Meta Bank’s major strength just behind collections. We find METABANK’s advertisement placement to be questionable.


How METABANK ruins the lives of their customers on so many levels… a scientific study to be applied to the way METABANK treats their customers

Killer Stress: A National Geographic Special   

Below you will find the transcript of this National Geographic Special that explains how stress is a killer.

Being a customer os METABANK is stressful. We established this blog to alert others and to allow them to protect themselves.

What many former customers of METABANK have found is that METABANK scammed them and then lied to the customer, and attempted to push the blame for the problem back off onto the customer. Customer after customer has reported that METABANK took control of their money using misleading promises that a prepaid bankcard would be safer and more secure. The prepaid bankcard gives all control of a customer’s money over to METABANK; the prepaid cards bring in lots of money for METABANK. The prepaid bank cards are safer and more secure for METABANK, but not for METABANK customers.

METABANK CEOs make in the range of $700,000.00 annually. METABANK brags that they got started as a “thrift bank” that is as a bank who sought “to serve” the underbanked” and “un-banked” in our society. This meant that METABANK seeks to establish a relationship with their customer base that would allow METABANK CEOs to be the “Alpha” primate while their customer base in general is in a subservient position. METABANK lures in partner companies and customer using false promises; this is a form of aggression against their customer base because of the way that METABANK has designed a product that repeatedly fails to meet customer’s needs.

I was struck by the fact that METABANK was so ready to lie to me about why I couldn’t access my own money and that they worked hardest at trying to push the blame for the problem off onto me as their customer. Of course, online, I would learn that METABANK by design fails customers; this is what makes METABANK’s CEOs so rich.

Those who are abused by METABANK and any system that operates in a similar manner would be well advised not to do business with METABANK. It turns out that there are health consequences for any and all METABANK customers. Please read the following transcript:

Created by PBS2

Aired at 11:00 PM on Monday, Apr 12, 2010 (4/12/2010)



Saplosky: Chronic stress could do something as unsubtle and grotesque as kill some of your brain cells.


Narrator: The impact of stress can be found deep within us, shrinking our brains, adding fat to our bellies, even unraveling our chromosomes.


Blackburn: This is real.


This is not just somebody whining.


[Baboon shrieking] Narrator: Stress– savior, tyrant, plague– its portrait revealed.


This program was made possible by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you.


Thank you.


Narrator: All of us have a personal relationship with stress.


But few of us know how it operates within us or understand how the onslaught of the modern world can stress us to the point of death.


Fewer still know what we can do about it.


But over the last three decades, stanford university neurobiologist robert sapolsky has been advancing our understanding of stress– how it impacts our bodies and how our social standing can make us more or less susceptible.


Most of the time you can find him teaching and researching in the high achieving, high stressed world of brain science.


But that’s only part of his story.


For a few weeks every year or so, sapolsky shifts his lab to a place more than 9,000 miles away, on the plains of the masai mara reserve in kenya, east africa.


Robert sapolsky first came to africa over 30 years ago on a hunch.


He suspected he could find out more about humans, stress and disease by looking at non-humans.


And he knew just the non-humans.


Sapolsky: You live in a place like this, you’re a baboon, and you only have to spend about three hours a day getting your calories.


And if you only have to work three hours a day, you’ve got nine hours of free time every day to devote to making somebody else just miserable.


[Baboons shrieking] they’re not being stressed by lions chasing them all the time, they’re being stressed by each other.


They’re being stressed by social and psychological tumult invented by their own species.


They’re a perfect model for westernized stress-related disease.


Narrator: To determine just what toll stress was taking on their bodies, sapolsky wanted to look inside these wild baboons– at the cellular level for the very first time.




In the most unassuming way.


Sapolsky: Basically is what you’re trying to do is anesthetize a baboon without him knowing it’s coming because you don’t want to have any of this anticipatory stress, so you can’t just, you know, get in your jeep and chase the baboon up and down the field for three hours, and finally, when he’s winded, dart him with an anesthetic.


The big advantages of a blow gun are that it’s pretty much silent and hasn’t a whole lot in the way of moving parts.


But the big drawback is it doesn’t go very far.


So what you spend just a bizarre amount of time doing is trying to figure out how to look nonchalant around a baboon.


[Blows] got him.




Ok, he is wobbling now.


Whoop, there he goes.


Narrator: From each baboon blood sample, robert measured levels of hormones central to the stress response.


Sapolsky: Well, to make sense of what’s happening in your body, you’ve got these two hormones that are the work horses of the whole stress response.


One of them we all know, adrenaline.


American version, epinephrine.


The other is a less known hormone called glucocorticoids.


It comes out of the adrenal gland along with adrenaline.


And these are the two backbones of the stress response.


Narrator: That stress response and those two hormones are critical to our survival.


Sapolsky: Because what stress is about is somebody is very intent on eating you or you are very intent on eating somebody and there’s immediate crisis going on.


Narrator: When you run for your life, basics are all that matter.


Lungs work overtime to pump mammoth quantities of oxygen into the bloodstream.


The heart races to pump that oxygen throughout the body so muscles respond instantly.


Sapolsky: You need your blood pressure up to deliver that energy.


You need to turn off anything that’s not essential.




You know, you’re running for your life.


This is no time to ovulate.


Tissue repair, all that sort of thing.


Do it later if there is a later.


Narrator: When the zebra escapes, its stress response shuts down.


But human beings can’t seem to find their “off” switch.


Sapolsky: We turn on the exact same stress response for purely psychological states.


Thinking about the ozone layer, the taxes coming up, mortality, 30-year mortgages, we turn on the same stress response and the key difference there is we’re not doing it for a real physiological reason and we’re doing it non-stop.


Narrator: By not turning off the stress response when reacting to life’s traffic jams, we wallow in a corrosive bath of hormones.


Even though it’s not life or death, we hyperventilate.


Our hearts pound.


Muscles tense.


Sapolsky: Ironically, after a while, the stress response is more damaging than the stressor itself, because the stressor is some psychological nonsense that you’re falling for.


No zebra on earth, running for its life, would understand why fear of speaking in public would cause you to secrete the same hormones that it’s doing at that point to save its life.


Narrator: Stress is the body’s way of rising to a challenge, whether the challenge is life-threatening, trivial or fun.


Sapolsky: You get the right amount of stress and we call it stimulation.


The goal in life isn’t to get rid of stress.


The goal in life is to have the right type of stress because when it’s the right type, we love it.


[People screaming] we jump out of our seats to experience it, we pay good money to get stressed that way.


It tends to be a moderate stressor, where you’ve got a stressor that’s transient.


It’s not for nothing roller coaster rides are not three weeks long.


And most of all what they’re about is you relinquish a little bit of control in a setting that overall feels safe.


Narrator: But, in real life, for so many of us primates, including robert’s baboons, control is not an option.


Sapolsky: You get some big male who loses a fight, and chases a sub-adult, who bites an adult female, who slaps a juvenile, who knocks an infant out of a tree all in 15 seconds.


Insofar as a huge component of stress is lack of control, lack of predictability, you’re sitting there and you’re just watching the zebra and somebody else is having a bad day and it’s your rear end that’s going to get slashed.


So tremendously psychologically stressful for the folks further down on the hierarchy.


Narrator: One of robert’s early revelations was identifying the link between stress and hierarchy in baboons.


Some baboon troops are over 100 strong.


Like us, they have evolved large brains to navigate the complexities of large societies.


Survival here requires a kind of political savvy– with the most cunning and aggressive males gaining top rank and all the perks– females for the choosing, all the food they can eat, and an endless retinue of willing groomers.


Every male knows where he stands in society– who can torture him; who he can torture; and who, in turn, the torturee can torture.


Sapolsky: Well, this sounds like a terrible thing to confess after 30 years, but I don’t actually like baboons all that much.


I mean, there’s been individual guys over the years who I absolutely love, but they’re these scheming, back-stabbing machiavellian bastards.


They’re awful to each other, so they’re great for my science.


I mean, I’m not out here to commune with them.


They’re perfect for what I study.


Narrator: 22 Years ago at the age of 30 robert sapolsky’s landmark research earned him the MacArthur foundation’s genius fellowship.


His early work– measuring stress hormones from extracted blood– led to two remarkable discoveries.


A baboon’s rank determined the level of stress hormone in his system.


So, if you’re a dominant male, you can expect your stress hormones to be low.


And if you’re submissive, much higher.


But there was an even more astonishing find in sapolsky’s sample: Low rankers–the have-nots– had increased heart rates and higher blood pressure.


This was the first time anyone had linked stress to the deteriorating health of a primate in the wild.


Sapolsky: Basically, if you’re, you know, a stressed, unhealthy baboon in a typical troop, high blood pressure, elevated levels of stress hormones, you have an immune system that doesn’t work as well, your reproductive system is more vulnerable of being knocked out of whack.


Your brain chemistry is one that bears some similarity to what you see in clinically depressed humans.


And all that stuff, those are not predictors of a hale and hearty old age.


Narrator: Could this also be true for that other primate?


As robert sapolsky was monitoring stress in baboons, professor sir michael marmot was leading a study in great britain that tracked the health of more than 28,000 people over the course of 40 years.


It was named for whitehall, citadel of the british civil service, where every job is ranked in a precise hierarchy– the perfect laboratory to determine whether in humans there might be a link between rank and stress.


Man: I mean, that’s the thing about stress.


I think you’ve got to look at it in both acute terms and chronic terms.


And I think I’ve been under chronic stress in this organization simply because I’m a square peg in a round hole.


Narrator: Kevin brooks is a government lawyer.


His rank–level seven– means he has little seniority in his department.


He lives the life of a subordinate.


Brooks: I think what I was most aware of at the time was the workload and how I had most of it under control, but one of my cases wasn’t wholly under control, I’d let it slip, and it was a bit like, you know, being in a car and hitting an ice patch and skidding.


But nonetheless I came in monday morning, and my immediate manager, let’s call him ben– ben wants a word with you.


So we find a room, he shuts the door, then he says, you know what you’ve done, you know what happened while you were away?


We couldn’t find one of your files.


Do you know what that meant?


He just gave me a darn good kicking, you know?


Psychologically, he did me over.


And at the end of it, it was more threats, it was, right, this may be a disciplinary matter.


So I left the room, crossed over the corridor to my own room, and I just burst into tears.


..and wept.


Narrator: Sarah woodhall also works for the government.


Unlike kevin, she is a senior civil servant.


Woodhall: There are about 160 people reporting to me ultimately one way or another within the sector.


I do really enjoy working in civil service.


It’s quite a dynamic environment, it can be quite exciting.


I like working with lots of people, so, yeah, I do really enjoy my job.


Narrator: Such dramatically different reflections dramatize one of the most astounding scientific findings in the whitehall study.


Marmot: Firstly, it showed that the lower you were in the hierarchy, the higher your risk of heart disease and other diseases.


So people second from the top had higher risks than those at the top, people third from the top had a higher risk than those second from the top, and it ran all the way from top to bottom.


We’re dealing with people in stable jobs with no industrial exposures.


And yet your position in the hierarchy intimately related to your risk of disease and length of life.


Woodhall: I’ve been very lucky.


I haven’t ever experienced any problems with my health.


Since I’ve been in the senior civil service I haven’t had a day off with ill health.


So I’ve been very fortunate.


Brooks: In my own situation, I think that my career is pretty much tainted.


It’s pretty much arrested.


Because I’ve had– for instance, out of the last three years at work, I’ve been off sick for probably half that time.


Sapolsky: This particular study is sort of the rosetta stone of the whole field, because it’s the british civil service system.


Everybody’s got the same medical care, everybody’s got the same universal health care system, just like the baboons.


All the baboons eat the same thing, they have the same level of activity.


It’s not this stuff that, oh, if you’re a low-ranking baboon, you smoke too much and you drink too much.


And if you’re a low rank in the british civil service you never go to the doctor, you don’t get preventive vaccines.


Both of these studies rule out all those confounds, and they produce virtually identical findings.


Narrator: On both sides of the primate divide, there are soul-wrenching stories and life-threatening consequences.


For every subordinate, like kevin, living a life of baboon uncertainty, there is an alpha strutting his stuff, glorying in power– over someone else, someone unsuspecting, someone low-ranking.


[Blows] Sapolsky: Got him.




Sapolsky: Do either of you see where the dart is?


Girl: Yeah, I do.


Sapolsky: Ok, guys, who do you think’s higher ranking?


Boy: Our guy.


Sapolsky: Yeah.


Watch carefully, make sure the other guy doesn’t hassle him.


Narrator: This year, robert brought his family to africa.


His wife, neuropsychologist lisa share-sapolsky, has also done extensive research with baboons.


And for the first time, they brought along their kids, benjamin and rachel.


Sapolsky: All the baboons are perfectly willing to get very freaked out by a human coming over and touching one of these guys.


But cover him with the burlap and he doesn’t exist anymore.


Oh, my god– he’s there, he’s there– oop, not there anymore!


Sapolsky: This is not quite like take your kids to work day.


But this is a pretty central feature of who I am by now, and who my wife and I are, and if our kids want to know where we came from, this is pretty fundamental.


Narrator: As in previous seasons robert measures how individuals at every level of the baboon hierarchy react to and recover from stress.


Sapolsky: So what we’re doing, we’re now going to challenge the system with increasing doses of epinephrine.


Narrator: The baboon’s response is immediately picked up in its blood– vital signs that can be deep frozen in perpetuity.


Sapolsky: It’s this storehouse of potential knowledge, and I got 30 years of those blood samples frozen away at this point because you never know when some new hormone or some new something or other pops up.


And that’s the thing to look at and start pulling out those samples back to when, you know, jimmy carter was president.




Narrator: Anticipating the long reach of stress is a recent idea, for when robert was rachel’s age, scientists believed stress was the cause of only one major problem.


Film narrator: This is a picture of a major american personnel problem– an ugly sore that doctors call a peptic ulcer, eating away at the wall of a man’s stomach.


[Dramatic music playing] those stomach pains that you talk about– the gnawing, the burning– those are obvious symptoms of gastric ulcers.


Sapolsky: 30 Years ago what’s the disease that comes to everybody’s mind when you mention stress?


stress and ulcers, stress and ulcers.


This was the first stress-related disease discovered, in fact, 70 years ago.


What I want you to do is to work on your attitude.


My attitude?


That’s right.


Ulcers breed on the wrong kind of feelings.


You’ve got to be honest with yourself about the way you feel about things.


Finding a new doctor sounds like a better answer to me.


Narrator: The connection between stress and ulcers was mainstream medical gospel until the late 1980s.


Then australian researchers identified a bacteria as the major cause of ulcers.


Sapolsky: And this overthrew the entire field.


This was it’s got nothing to do with stress.


It’s a bacterial disorder.


And I’m willing to bet half the gastroenterologists on earth, when they heard about this, went out and celebrated that night.


This was like the greatest news.


Never again were they going to have to sit down their patients and make eye contact and ask them how’s it going, so anything stressful?


It’s got nothing to do with stress, it’s a bacterial disorder.


Narrator: So no longer would the solution be stress management.


Now it could be something as simple as a pill.


It was a major breakthrough.


Stress didn’t cause ulcers.


Case closed.


But a few years later the research took a new twist.


Scientists discovered that this ulcer-causing bacteria wasn’t unique.


In fact, as much as two thirds of the world’s population has it.


So why do only a fraction of these people develop ulcers?


Research revealed that when stressed the body begins shutting down all non-essential systems, including the immune system.


And it became clear that if you shut down the immune system, stomach bacteria can run amok.


Sapolsky: Because what the stress does is wipe out the ability of your body to begin to repair your stomach walls when they start rotting away from this bacteria.


Narrator: So stress can cause ulcers– by disrupting our body’s ability to heal itself.


If stress can undermine the immune system, what other havoc can it wreak?


One answer comes from a colony of captive macaque monkeys near winston-salem, north carolina.


Shively: People think of stress as something that keeps them up at night or something that makes them yell at their kids.


But when you ask me what is stress, I say, “look at it, it’s this huge plaque in this artery, ” Narrator: carol shively has been studying the arteries of macaques.


Like baboons and british civil servants, these primates organize themselves into distinctly hierarchical groups and subject each other to social stress.


Stress hormones can trigger an intense negative cardiovascular response– a pounding heart and increased blood pressure.


So if stress follows rank, would the cardiovascular system of a high-ranking macaque– call him a primate ceo– be different from his subordinate?


When shively looked at the arteries of a dominant monkey– one with little history of stress– its arteries were clean.


But a subordinate monkey’s arteries told a grim tale.


Shively: A subordinate artery has lots more atherosclerosis built up inside it than a dominant artery has.


Narrator: Stress and the resulting flood of hormones had increased blood pressure, damaging artery walls, making them repositories for plaque.


Shively: So now when you feel threatened, your arteries don’t expand and your heart muscle doesn’t get more blood and that can lead to a heart attack.


This is not an abstract concept, it’s not something that maybe someday you should do something about.


You need to attend to it today because it’s affecting the way your body functions, and stress today will affect your health tomorrow and for years to come.


Narrator: Social and psychological stress– whether macaque, human or baboon– can clog our arteries, restrict blood flow, jeopardize the health of our heart.


And that’s just the beginning of stress’ deadly curse.


Robert’s early research demonstrated that stress works on us in an even more frightening way.


Sapolsky: Well, back when I was starting in this business, what I wound up focusing on was what seemed an utterly implausible idea at the time, which was chronic stress and chronic exposure to glucocorticoids could do something as unsubtle and grotesque as kill some of your brain cells.


Narrator: As a phd candidate at rockefeller university IN THE EARLY 1980s, Sapolsky collaborated with his mentor, dr.


bruce McEwen, to follow the path of stress into the brain.


They subjected lab rats to chronic stress and then examined their brain cells.


The team made an astonishing find: They found that while the cells of normal rat brains have extensive branches, stressed rats’ brain cells were dramatically smaller.


Sapolsky: And what was most interesting in many ways was the part of the brain where this was happening, hippocampus.


You take intro neurobiology any time for the last 5,000 years, and what you learn is hippocampus is learning and memory.


Narrator: Stress in these rats shrank the part of their brain responsible for memory.


McEwen: Stress affects memory in two ways.


Chronic stress can actually change brain circuits so that we lose the capacity to remember things as we need to.


Very severe, acute stress can have another effect which is often we refer to as “stress makes you stupid,” which is making it impossible for you, over short periods of time, to remember things you know perfectly well.


Sapolsky: We all know that phenomenon, we all know that one from back when we stressed ourselves by not getting any sleep at all, 00 we couldn’t remember a single thing for that final exam.


You take a human and stress them big time, long time, and you’re going to have a hippocampus that pays the price as well.


Narrator: So, in addition to undermining our health, stress can make us feel plain miserable.


Carol shively set out to find out why.


She began not with misery but with pleasure.


Shively suspected that there was a link between stress, pleasure, and where we stand on the social hierarchy.


Just like stress, pleasure is linked to the chemistry of the brain.


When a neurotransmitter called dopamine is released in the brain, it binds to receptors, signaling pleasure.


scanner to explore this process first by looking into the brain of a non-stressed primate, ” Shively: What we see is that the brains of dominant monkeys light up bright with lots of dopamine binding in this area that’s so important to reward and feeling pleasure about life.


Narrator: Shively then looked at the subordinate’s brain.


Shively: What we discovered is that the brains of the subordinate monkeys are very, very dull because there’s much less receptor binding going on in this area.


Why is that?


What is it about this area of the brain?


When you have less dopamine, everything around you that you would normally take pleasure in is less pleasurable, so the sun doesn’t shine so bright, the grass is not so green, food doesn’t taste as good.


It’s because of the way your brain is functioning that you’re doing that, and your brain is functioning that way because you’re low on the social status hierarchy.


Sapolsky: One feature of low rank is being low-ranking, the reality.


An even stronger feature, by the time you get to humans, is not just being low ranking or poor, it’s feeling low ranking or poor.


And one of the best ways for society to make you feel like one of the have-nots is to rub your nose over and over and over again with what you don’t have.


Narrator: Richmond, california– a town where society’s extremes can be spotted right from your car.


This is cardiologist jeffrey ritterman’s regular commute.


Ritterman: You can learn a lot about the stress and health outcome just from the neighborhoods you visit.


In this neighborhood, the life expectancy is quite good and most of the people are pretty healthy.


And as we reach the top of the hill, it gets to be a little bit less privileged.


And as we make this transition, the social status begins to drop, and correspondingly, in those areas, the health outcome is much worse.


And these people are not going to have the same life expectancy as the people in the middle class area we started in.


People are on guard, people are vigilant, they’re living a more stressful life.


This is a community that produces high stress hormones in people, and over time it takes its toll.


Narrator: ritterman’s patients is 65-year-old emanuel johnson.


guidance counselor in one of america’s most dangerous neighborhoods.


Johnson: Last year I think we had 47 homicides, you know.


In the last 4 days, we had 11 shootings, 3 deaths.


And I just know, nine times out of ten, it’s going to be a relative or someone that the kids know.


Narrator: For emanuel johnson, there is a price for chronic exposure to this stress.


Johnson: Five years ago I had a heart attack.


I’m a diabetic, too.


I have to work on it constantly.


I’ve been in this business 20 years.


So it’s just–it’s stressful just working the job, so over the years, you know, the cholesterol, the blood pressure, the sugar came on later, but the stress was always there, long before they came on.


Narrator: Emanuel johnson’s body may be telling yet another story of stress.


The whitehall study in england found an incredible link between stress, your position in the social hierarchy and how you put on weight.


Marmot: So it may not be just putting on weight, but also the distribution of that weight.


And the distribution of that weight– putting it on round the center– is related to position in the hierarchy, and that in turn may be related to chronic stress pathways.


Shively: So we said, does that happen in monkeys because they organize themselves in a hierarchy, too.


And it turns out that it does.


Subordinate monkeys are more likely to have fat in their abdomen than are dominant monkeys.


I think the most amazing observation that I’ve made in my lab is this idea that stress could actually change the way you deposit fat on your body.


To me, that was a bizarre idea that you could actually alter the way fat is distributed.


Narrator: Sapolsky, shively and others think stress could be a critical factor in the global obesity epidemic.


Even worse, fat brought on by stress is dangerous fat.


Shively: We know that fat carried on the trunk or actually inside the abdomen is much worse for you than fat carried elsewhere on the body.


It behaves differently, it’s– it is, um, it produces different kinds of hormones and chemicals and has different effects on your health.


Whatever it is that works for an individual, they need to value stress reduction.


I think the problem in our society is that we don’t value stress reduction, we, in fact, value the opposite.


We admire the person who not only multitasks and does two things at once, but does five things at once.


We kind of admire that person, how they manage that, you know, well, that’s–it’s– that’s an incredibly stressful way to live.


We have to change our values and value people who understand a balanced and serene life.


Narrator: One heartbreaking moment in history reveals that stress may, in fact, damage us long before we are even aware.


Holland, late 1944.


A brutal winter and a merciless army of occupation conspire to starve a nation.


It is known as the dutch hunger winter.


For those who survive today, these are haunting memories.


[Speaking dutch] Narrator: Dutch researcher tessa roseboom had heard many of those tragic memories.


She and her team wanted to know if there were any lingering effects.


Roseboom knew that our bodies respond to famine in much the same way they respond to other stressors, so she set out to see if the fetuses of women pregnant during these arduous days could possibly be affected by stress.


Because of meticulous record keeping by the dutch, roseboom was able to identify over 2,400 people who could have been impacted.


She and her team analyzed the data from those born during and after the famine and came to a surprising conclusion.


Roseboom: I think that you could say that these babies were exposed to stress in fetal life and they are still suffering the consequences of that now, 60 years later.


Narrator: Most of the dutch hunger winter children live today, all in their sixties.


Many still bear the scars of war.


Roseboom: We found that babies who were conceived during the famine have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.


They have more hypercholesterolemia, they are more responsive to stress and they generally are in poorer health than people who were born before the famine or conceived after it.


Narrator: Researchers think that stress hormones in a mother’s blood triggered a change in the nervous system of the fetus as it struggled with starvation.


This was the fetus’ first encounter with stress.


Six decades later, the bodies of these dutch hunger winter children still haven’t forgotten.


Sapolsky: What we now know is it’s not just your fat cell storage that winds up being vulnerable to events like this.


It’s your brain chemistry.


It’s your capacity to learn as an adult.


It’s your capacity to respond to stress adaptively rather than maladaptively.


How readily you fall into depression, how vulnerable you are to psychiatric disorders– yet another realm in which early experience and early stress can leave a very bad footprint.


Woman: If I had had an option, I would not have opted to be bipolar, but now that I am bipolar, I’ll have to live with it.


[Speaking dutch] Sapolsky: What the dutch hunger winter phenomenon is about is experience, environment starts long before birth.


An adverse, stressful environment can leave imprints, can leave scars lasting a whole lifetime.


Rachel: We’re just taking fingerprints ’cause no baboon has the same fingerprint as another one.


So we just took honey bear’s, and I’m hoping to go over to riff and get his.


Narrator: During this year’s multi-generational research, robert, who has spent his career documenting stress’ effects on the individual and on the cell, tracks the trail of stress even deeper into our bodies.


Sapolsky: One of the most interesting new directions of stress research is taking the effects of stress down to a nuts and bolts level of how cells work, how genes work that half a dozen years ago, nobody could have imagined.


Narrator: The once unimaginable– genetic structures called telomeres, which protect the ends of our chromosomes from fraying.


As we age, our telomeres shorten.


Sapolsky: What’s interesting is stress, by way of stress hormones, can accelerate the shortening of telomeres.


So the assumption is for the exact same aged guys, if you’re a low-ranking guy who’s just marinating in stress hormones, your telomeres are going to be shorter.


Narrator: So how does this formidable finding apply to us?


San rafael, california.


Once a week janet lawson keeps a very important appointment.


She joins other mothers who share circumstances that produce chronic, unremitting stress.


Woman: But she loses her balance, and that’s the scary part.


So we just went out, actually last night, and bought a new helmet, storun Woman: We found that as she’s getting older and wanting more independence, it’s getting harder.


Narrator: Each of these women is mother to a disabled child.


Woman: As my son’s only 8 and there’s enough I can handle and I don’t allow myself to go too much out, I can’t.


Woman: I had a friend recently who said to me, you know, I think you really should consider putting lexie in a home.


And that was really stressful in and of itself ..




Don’t be sorry, hon.


So I was like, wow, how can you even say that?


She’s, you know, a little girlfriend.


She’s, um, even though she can’t really communicate, ..


She loves. she loves.


Narrator: These remarkable women came to the attention of biologist dr. elizabeth blackburn.


Blackburn: I don’t directly know the individuals, but I know the stories.


I’m a mother myself.


And so when I heard about this cohort, I really thought it was worthwhile finding out what really is happening at the heart of the cells in these mothers who are doing such a difficult thing for such a long time.


Narrator: blackburn is a leader in the field of telomere research.


Blackburn: We have 46 chromosomes and they’re capped off at each end by telomeres.


Nobody knew in humans whether telomeres and their fraying down over life would be affected by chronic stress.


And so we decided we would look at this cohort of chronically stressed mothers, and we decided to ask what’s happening to their telomeres and to the maintenance of their telomeres.


What we found was the length of the telomeres directly relates to the amount of stress somebody is under and the number of years that they’ve been under the stress.


Narrator: Such stressed mothers became the focus of a study blackburn’s colleague, psychologist elissa eppel.


Eppel: Mothers of young children are a highly stressed group.


They’re often balancing competing demands like work and child rearing and often don’t have time to take care of themselves.


So if you add on top of that the extra burden of caring for a child with special needs, it can be overwhelming.


It can tax the very reserves that sustain people, and if they’re stressed, if they report stress, they tend to die earlier.


Sapolsky: These women have shortened telomeres– decreased activity of this enzyme, and very, very rough number– for every year you were taking care of a chronically ill child, you got roughly six years’ worth of aging.


Blackburn: This is real.


This is not just somebody whining.


This is real medically serious aging going on, and we can see that it’s actually caused by the chronic stress.


Narrator: But there is hope.


blackburn co-discovered an enzyme, telomerase, that can repair the damage.


Woman: It’s what I always call the threat of hope.


[Laughter] Narrator: Preliminary data suggests that a meeting of minds such as this may actually have a health benefit, by stimulating the healing effects of telomerase.


Woman: If you don’t laugh, forget it, you can’t handle it.




There’s a certain level of black humor that we have about our kids that only we appreciate, we are the only ones who get the jokes, in a way we’re the only ones ..


Eppel: One of the questions in the stress field is what are the active ingredients that reduce stress and that promote longevity?


And compassion and caring for others may be one of those most important ingredients.


So those may be the factors that promote longevity and increase telomerase and keep our cells rejuvenating and regenerating.


Narrator: So perhaps connecting with and helping others can help us to mend ourselves and maybe even live longer, healthier lives.


20 Years ago sapolsky got a shocking preview of this idea.


The first troop he ever studied– the baboons he felt closest to and had written books about– suffered a calamity.


It would have a profound effect on his research.


Sapolsky: The keekorok troop is the one I started with 30 years ago.


And they were your basic old baboon troop at the time, which means males were aggressive and society was highly stratified, and females took a lot of grief, and your basic off-the-rack baboon troop.


And then about– by now almost 20 years ago, something horrific and scientifically very interesting happened to that troop.


Narrator: The keekorok troop took to foraging for food in the garbage dump of a popular tourist lodge.


It was a fatal move.


The trash included meat tainted with tuberculosis.


The result was that over half the males in the troop died.


Sapolsky: Not unreasonably, I got depressed as hell and pretty damn angry about what happened.


You know, you’re 30 years old, you can afford to expend a lot of emotion on a baboon troop, and there was a lot of emotion there.


Narrator: For robert, a decade of research appeared to have been lost.


But then he made a curious observation about who had died and who had survived.


Sapolsky: It wasn’t random who died.


In that troop, if you were aggressive and if you were not particularly socially connected, socially affiliative, you didn’t spend your time grooming and hanging out, if you were that kind of male, you died.


Narrator: Every alpha male was gone.


The keekorok troop had been transformed Sapolsky: And what you were left with was twice as many females as males, and the males who were remaining were, you know, just to use scientific jargon, they were good guys.


They were not aggressive jerks.


They were nice to the females.


They were very socially affiliative.


It completely transformed the atmosphere in the troop.


Narrator: When male baboons reach adolescence, they typically leave their home troop and roam, eventually finding a new troop.


Sapolsky: And when the new adolescent males would join the troop, they’d come in just as jerky as any adolescent males elsewhere on this planet, and it would take ’em about six months to learn, “we’re not like that in this troop.


We don’t do stuff like that.


We’re not that aggressive.


We spend more time grooming each other.


Males are calmer with each other.


You cannot dump on a female if you’re in ” and it takes these new guys about six months, and they assimilate this style.


And you have baboon culture, and this particular troop has a culture of very low levels of aggression and high levels of social affiliation, and they’re doing that 20 years later.


Narrator: And so the tragedy had provided robert with a fundamental lesson– not just about cells, but how the absence of stress could impact society.


Sapolsky: Do these guys have the same problems with high blood pressure? nope.


Do these guys have the same problems with brain chemistry related to anxiety, stress hormone levels?


Not at all.


It’s not just your rank, it’s what your rank means in your society.


Narrator: And the same is true for humans, with only a slight variation.


Sapolsky: We belong to multiple hierarchies, and you may have the worst job in your corporation and no autonomy and control and predictability, but you’re the captain of the company softball team that year and you’d better bet you are going to have all sorts of psychological means to decide it’s just a job, nine to five, that’s not what the world is about.


What the world’s about is softball.


I’m the head of my team, people look up to me, and you come out of that deciding you are on top of the hierarchy that matters to you.


Sapolsky: Well, that worked.


And lots of baboon poop.


Which under the right circumstances with the right season’s experiment is a goldmine.


Unfortunately this time around it’s just a cage to have to clean now.


I’m studying stress for 30 years now, and I even tell people how they should live differently, so presumably I should incorporate all this and the reality is, like, I’m unbelievably stressed and type “a” and poorly coping, and why else would I study this stuff 80 hours a week?


No doubt everything I advise is going to lose all its credibility if I keel over dead from a heart attack IN MY EARLY 50s.


I’m not good at dealing with stress.


One thing that works to my advantage is I love my work, I love every aspect of it, so that’s good.


Nonetheless this is pretty clearly a different place than the savannah in east africa.


You can do science here that’s very different and more interesting in some ways.


You can have hot showers on a more regular basis.


It’s a more interesting, varied world in lots of ways.


But there’s a lot out there that you sure miss.


It is a pretty miraculous place, where every meal tastes good and you’re 10 times more aware of every sensation.


This is a hard place to come to year after year without getting, I think, a very different metabolism and temperament.




More happy.


This is a hard place not to be happy.


Narrator: So one antidote to stress may be finding a place where we have control.


But how do we reckon with all the time we spend at work?


Marmot: I would say what we’ve learned from the whitehall study and the study of the non-human primates is the conditions in which people live and work are absolutely vital for their health.


Narrator: Senior civil servant sarah woodhall enjoys the benefits of control.


Woodhall: I don’t think I suffer from stress.


I don’t work a hundred hours a week.


I control the amount of work that I do to make sure that I can continue to deliver long term.


Marmot: Control, the amount of control is intimately related to where you are in the occupational hierarchy.


And what we have found is in general when people report to us that things have got worse, that the amount of work stress has gone up, their illness rates go up.


When people report to us that they’ve got more control and they’re being treated more fairly at work and there’s more justice in their amount of treatment, so things are getting better, the amount of illness goes down.


Woodhall: I’ve been very lucky.


I haven’t ever experienced any problems with my health.


Narrator: But not everyone is so lucky.


So is there a prescription for the vast majority of us who aren’t at the top?


Marmot: Give people more involvement in the work, give them more say in what they’re doing, give them more reward for the amount of effort they put out, and it might well be you’ll have not just a healthier workplace, but a more productive workplace as well.


Brooks: I’ve managed to achieve a degree of control.


At the moment, I’m in a really good position.


This is the first time where I feel I’ve had a boss who appreciates me.


He doesn’t dominate team meetings, he sits back.


He invites people to contribute.


He lets other people chair.


He’s a real manager, and he– from the start, when I returned after my latest sick leave, just six months ago, he was so positive.


I think I feel sufficiently empowered.


Narrator: Who would have imagined that robert’s baboons, roaming the cruel plains of africa, would point us humans toward a stress-free utopia?


Marmot: This may sound a little fanciful, but I think what we’re trying to create is a better society.


The implications, both of the baboons and of the british civil servants, is how can we create a society that has the conditions that will allow people to flourish?


And that’s where this is heading– to create a better society that promotes human flourishing.


Sapolsky: So what do baboons teach the average person in there?


Don’t bite somebody because you’re having a bad day.


Don’t displace on them in any sort of matter.


Social affiliation is a remarkably powerful thing.


And that said by somebody who lives in a world where ambition and drive and type-“a”-ness and all of that sort of thing dominates.


Those things are real important and one of the greatest forms of sociality is giving rather than receiving, and all those things make for a better world.


Another one of the things that baboons teach us is if they’re able to, in one generation, transform what are supposed to be textbook social systems sort of engraved in stone, we don’t have an excuse when we say there’s certain inevitabilities about human social systems.


Narrator: And so the haunting question that endures from robert’s life work– are we brave enough to learn from a baboon?


The keekorok troop didn’t just survive without stress, they thrived.


Can we?


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Pay Power is METABANK and METABANK’s practices fail consumers repeatedly

Had METABANK not taken advantage of us, made us very vulnerable, and lied to us and to the Better Business Bureau of Des Moines, this blog would never have been created.

But the fact remains that METABANK lied to us, the partner company that sold us their product and to the BBB of Des Moines, IA. METABANK took our money, our cash money because that is the only way that a card can be loaded/re-loaded, and then kept us from having access to our own money when we needed it the most. This action made us even more vulnerable than if we had been paying directly using cash. The prepaid card only is a money making gimmick that serves to make the METABANK CEOs outrageously rich… This is not a sustainable pattern for the US Economy.

Why you don’t want a PAYPOWER VISA DEBIT issued by METABANK tm

#1 Pay Power is a METABANK product.

#2 The gimmick of attaching a direct deposit that will give you the added bonus of a $20 credit isn’t enough of an incentive given the fact that you will actually be giving complete and full control of all of your assets over to METABANK, an unknown and anonymous entity that you found online.

#3  The concept of a direct deposit is okay, but it has been so abused by METABANK that in their hands it becomes like a weapon against METABANK’s own customer base.

#4 Many customers, that is former customers of METABANK, have complained for years now that METABANK keeps them from being able to access their own money when they need it the most. METABANK’s customer representatives have lied to customers repeatedly for the reasons that the customers aren’t able to access their own money. The control that METABANK wields over their customers’ accounts has gone far beyond what can be considered normal and appropriate. METABANK’s customers are a huge cash cow for METABANK and create a “living hell” for customers who must give METABANK cash money.

#5 METABANK promises to provide safety and security, but this isn’t for their customers. METABANK is working to get safety and security for themselves. Once METABANK has control of all of your assets, your cash money, then you will discover that you can’t access your own cash money. You have been taken in by false promises.

# 6 METABANK is really a collections agency and not a bank in the sense that we have always thought of banks. METABANK relies on the consumers’ previously held impression of banks as being the safest place to keep  their money. METABANK is a Member of FDIC and that statement may lull customers into thinking that METABANK will be in a fiduciary position to protect their customers’ assets…. METABANK is not and has never been able to deliver a quality product for protecting their customer base.

#7  METABANK relies on partner companies and internet ads to get  new customers so they can keep doing the same old scam to a new batch of consumers. METABANK relies on getting a new batch of customers of whom they will then begin to take advantage for their own personal gain and at the expense and misery of the METABANK customer.

#8 Marketing strategies of METABANK involve the creation of new names for the same scam on consumers. This is one way that METABANK endeavors to get around the law… METABANK “is always one step ahead of the law.”

#9 METABANK creates all the rules governing their services or as it turns out for consumers ” a lack of real service accompanied by abuses.”

#10 METABANK helped to create the “Non-Profit” NPBCA to advocate for PREPAID CARDS in DC by using Rupli and Associates. It is a way for METABANK to make themselves appear to be legitimate…. What METABANK does with the prepaid cards is to abuse consumers. The cards are designed so that METABANK has control of your cash money. Customer Fees are attached to opening up the cards while METABANK is getting an interest Free Loan from those who can least afford to give out loans.

#11 METABANK is a “thrift bank”… This term is used to indicate the lowest level of customer service and the highest level of fees for the consumer.

#12 METABANK indicates that “No Credit Check” is required, but consumers have indicated that META BANK does a credit check anyway, but without your knowledge. METABANK is consciously looking for the more vulnerable people to give them loans at a very high interest rate.

#13 By creating a direct deposit from your salary/payroll check or government check that is affiliated with a METABANK debit card, you are becoming an economic slave for METABANK. As a consumer, you must understand that you are establishing a state of economic servitude for yourself by entering into a contract with METABANK.

#14 METABANK/NBPCA is like a Cancer: they are offering training sessions around the USA. Just look at their schedule of up-coming events. You may believe that you are not going to be affected by METABANK, but it may be that you already are one of their customers. The training sessions serve the purpose of normalizing the type of actions and the way that METABANK has scammed their customer base for a period of years now.

#15 METABANK created an organization that purportedly examines customer service and that organization gave METABANK a best customer service award…. While customers continue to complain about how they were abused and taken advantage of by METABANK.

#16  METABANK never accepts responsibility for the problems they have created for others, their own customer base. By design this cannot be a sustainable way to do business, but  in the meantime, as consumers, we don’t want to become METABANK’s next victim as their system comes to a head and fails. METABANK is using a get rich quick scheme. It is not a long term solution for any bank or their customer base.

#17 METABANK has as its parent company META PAYMENT SOLUTIONS and META FINANCIAL GROUP INC… METABANK really isn’t at its core a bank in the conventional sense that will protect their customer base’s assets in a mutually beneficial arrangement. Empty promises are used to lure in customers; METABANBK has no intention of providing those services. Years of consumer complaints have proven this to be true. METABANK advertises for employees who are willing to work in a fast paced, ever changing scenario and who can deal with angry customers. METABANK expects “angry customers” because at the heart of what they are doing, even METABANK knows what they do is a fraud and an abuse of their own customers for their own get rich quick scheme.

All that we can do is to try to warn others about this problem:

METABANK relies on the internet and partner companies to push their prepaid card.

METABANK makes promises and implies services they have no intention of ever giving their customer base.

METABANK relies on keeping their customer base at a distance. Customers have been charged for phoning METABANK. Many customers say that they get the run around from METABANK when they phone. It appears to consumers that the METABANK phone representatives have been given a list of reasons for why consumers can’t access their own money. The underlying message is always that IT IS THE CUSTOMERS’ FAULT FOR WHY THE METABANK PREPAID CARD DOESN’T WORK

METABANK has never shown any kind of real and genuine response to their customers’ complaints. The customers complain about the identical mistreatment and METABANK has never ever actually addressed their customers’ input nor their real needs. METABANK’s publicity says one thing, but the actual customer service will be totally different and horrible.

Please be advised to ” DO NOT BUSINESS WITH METABANK” or with any other bank or partner trained by METABANK

The old saying that your parents used to tell you that “just because everybody else is doing something, it doesn’t make it right”…. METABANK and the NBPCA may provide training events to promote and to normalize what they are doing, but what METABANK does and how METABANK operates is immoral and an abuse against society and humanity in general for their own personal gain… Consumers are being warned to no do business with METABANK or any entity that has been influenced by METABANK.

Jackson-Hewitt partners with METABANK; The Scam continues

Jackson-Hewitt and METABANK are partners

To help combat fraud by tax preparers, the Internal Revenue Service created the Registered Tax Return Preparer program. Then…..

Setback on tax preparer regulations

By Michelle Singletary,February 05, 2013

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) building stands in Washington, D.C.,… (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg )

To help combat fraud by tax preparers, the Internal Revenue Service created the Registered Tax Return Preparer program. Then, just before the tax season got underway, the agency was told by a federal judge that it doesn’t have the authority to regulate the hundreds of thousands of tax preparers covered under the program.

Although some tax return preparers are licensed by their states or enrolled to practice before the IRS, many don’t have to pass a government or professionally mandated competency test to prepare a federal return. When the IRS issued its last “dirty dozen” tax scams, tax return preparer fraud was third on the list.

Crooked tax preparers can do some dastardly things.

“Tax return preparers sometimes alter return information without their clients’ knowledge or consent in an attempt to obtain improperly inflated refunds or to divert refunds for their personal benefit,” wrote Nina E. Olson, the national taxpayer advocate, in her most recent report to Congress.

[Here are the issues that the IRS is trying to address and to correct for the benefit of consumers and the general public:]

“Often, the refunds are directed to an account in the preparer’s control.”

In other instances, preparers lure clients by promising large refunds even before reviewing their tax information.

The IRS program would have required any individual who is compensated for preparing or assisting in the preparation of a return to obtain a preparer tax identification number, pass a qualifying exam and complete annual continuing-education requirements.

Three independent tax preparers joined the Institute for Justice in challenging the IRS’s authority to create the program. Recently, Judge James E. Boasberg of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled against the agency.

Said Dan Alban, the lead attorney on the case: “The licensing requirements harmed the ability of mom-and-pop operations to compete with big tax preparation firms. Two of the three plaintiffs would have been put out of business because of the cost of complying with the regulations.”

The ruling now means tax return preparers who would have been covered by the program are not required to complete competency testing or secure continuing education, the IRS said. However, all paid preparers are still required to have a preparer tax identification number.

There are tax professionals — attorneys, certified public accountants and enrolled agents — who were exempt from the program but are licensed by state or federal authorities and are subject to censure, suspension or disbarment from practice before the IRS in the event of wrongdoing. The ruling does not affect the regulatory requirements for these professionals.

Still hoping to continue with the regulatory program, the IRS asked the court to delay the ruling pending its appeal. The motion was denied.

“The IRS continues to have confidence in the scope of its authority to administer this program and is working with the Department of Justice to address all options, including a planned appeal,” the agency said in a statement.

In response to the lawsuit, the IRS said it has established 250 testing centers, the program has cost more than $50 million to roll out and nearly 100,000 preparers have registered to take the competency test.

When the IRS first announced the program, I was in favor of licensing preparers. Though many tax professionals do their jobs well, there are enough unscrupulous preparers to warrant some changes.

Olson, the national taxpayer advocate, has recommended that Congress enact a federal registration, examination, certification and enforcement program for unenrolled tax return preparers. “Creating a class of certified return preparers is a very positive step toward combating fraud,” she said in her report.

But perhaps Judge Boasberg has it right. He said his ruling doesn’t require the IRS to dismantle its entire registration scheme.

The IRS “may choose to retain the testing centers and some staff, as it is possible that some preparers may wish to take the exam or continuing education even if not required to,” Boasberg said in his decision. “Such voluntarily obtained credentials might distinguish them from other preparers.”

And some preparers might still take the exam in case his ruling is reversed on appeal, “just as the IRS may similarly decide it is financially more prudent not to shutter the centers in hopes of an appellate victory or congressional action,” Boasberg wrote.

“We have no opposition to preparers going through the program voluntarily,” Alban said. “If you are in the market looking for a new tax preparer, there could be value in selecting one with the registered tax return preparer certification. Keeping it voluntary allows consumers to decide what’s important rather than the IRS.”

I see great service to consumers in the IRS preparer program. So until things are settled, Boasberg offers a good compromise.

Readers may write to Michelle Singletary at The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071 or singletarym@washpost.com. Personal responses may not be possible, and comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer’s name, unless otherwise requested. To read previous Color of Money columns, go to postbusiness. com.