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CU System

CU System Briefs (07/19/2013)

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  • ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (7/19/13)--A former teller has been charged with stealing nearly $20,000 from St. Joseph, Mo.-based Goetz CU to finance gambling.  Christie Lynn Young, 43, a former teller and member service representative who had worked for the credit union for 22 years, allegedly stole $19,965 between Jan. 2 and July 3 by moving money from her cash drawer to her account and falsifying records. She has been charged with one count of stealing, a Class C felony. Young allegedly told police she used the stolen money to gamble (St. Joseph News-Press July 16) ...
  • MONTPELIER, Vt. (7/19/13)--Steve Post, the CEO of Vermont State Employees CU, the state's largest state-chartered credit union, has announced he plans to retire after 23 years at the helm of the Montpelier, Vt.-based credit union. Post was appointed CEO in 1990. He previously served as general manager at White River CU, Rochester, Vt.  Post served as chairman of the Association of Vermont Credit Unions Government Relations Committee and has been an active voice with regulators and legislators. Under his leadership, the credit union grew to more than $600 million in assets from $80 million and expanded its field of membership from an employee-based to a community-based credit union serving more than 50,000 members,. He also expanded branch operations to seven locations and developed a full-service online distribution channel. VSECU's board has retained Cope & Associates, Burlington, Vt., which already has begun the process of working with Post and the senior executive team to prepare for a successor ...
  • RIVERSIDE, Calif. (7/19/13)--Altura CU, a $718.2 million asset credit union based in Riverside, Calif., is rolling out a new fleet of envelope-free ATMs throughout  Riverside County. Its branches in West Hemet, Indio, Rancho Mirage and Murrieta are the first to install the ATMs. The changeover will continue to all 35 of Altura's ATMs through the end of the year. "Member convenience was the driving factor" behind the decision, said Altura CEO Mark Hawkins. "We focus on listening to what our members want, and it was clear they were seeking more convenient and environmentally friendly ATMs."  He pointed out that the ATMs are "a boost for the environment. Since these new envelope-free ATMs were first launched, they are estimated to have eliminated hundreds of millions of paper envelopes, saving trees." Also, gas use and emissions decreased because remote ATMs do not need to be serviced as frequently, Hawkins said ...
  • MELBOURNE, Fla. (7/19/13)--Space Coast CU has honored four auto dealers with its 2012 Watchdog Dealer Of The Year Award for superior service to SCCU members. The dealers are Rosner Chevrolet for Brevard and Indian River Counties; Braman Honda for Miami-Dade County; AutoNation Chevrolet of Pembroke Pines for Palm Beach and Broward Counties; and Deland Kia for Volusia and Flagler Counties. The awards were based on survey ratings from credit union members and on the total auto loans they generated for SCCU.  Rosner Chevrolet received 4.78 stars out of a possible five stars and facilitated more than $12 million in auto loan production for SCCU. Braman Honda earned five stars and facilitated more than $5 million. AutoNation Chevrolet received 4.6 stars and facilitated more than $2 million, while Deland Kia earned 4.6 stars and facilitated more than $12 million in auto loan production with SCCU. SCCU's Watchdog program's philosophy is to watch out for members' best interests ...

Two Canadian Co-op Groups Plan Bilingual Organization

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EDMONTON, Alberta (7/19/13)--Two Canadian French- and English-speaking national cooperative associations plan to create a single bilingual organization to represent co-ops, credit unions and mutual insurance companies in every region of Canada.

The new organization, tentatively called Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada, will launch in early 2014 and will take over the domestic mandates of the Conseil canadien de la cooperation et de la mutualite (CCCM) and the Canadian Cooperative Association (CCA). 

CCA will continue to exist but will be responsible only for international cooperative development activities, said the announcement on the 2014 International Summit of Cooperatives website (July 3).

"This is not a merger; it is a creation of an entirely new organization to represent all cooperative enterprises across Canada," said Bill Dobson, CCA's newly elected president. "This will significantly strengthen the Canadian cooperative movement; it will allow cooperatives, credit unions and mutual to speak with one voice, in both of Canada's official languages."

The vote took place at a joint Congress of CCA and CCCM in Edmonton, Alberta, June 26-28. Canada has more than 9,000 cooperatives with 18 million members and 150,000 employees.

Sinek Puts CU Leadership Under the Microscope

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MADISON, Wis. (7/19/13)--While most people are familiar with the psychological side of corporate leadership, Simon Sinek, author of "Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action," offered a glimpse of the biology behind decision making during the closing session Wednesday of the World Council of Credit Unions' World Credit Union Conference in Ottawa, Canada, Wednesday.
 
Click to view larger image Simon Sinek opted for a flipchart rather than a PowerPoint presentation during his World Credit Union Conference closing session in Ottawa, Canada, Wednesday. Sinek gave a crash course on the brain's chemicals and how a balance of endurance, accomplishment, pride, trust and safety in the workplace lead to optimal performance.
"Inside our bodies are incentives trying to encourage us to repeat behavior that is in the best interest of ourselves and of our groups," said Sinek, who is best known for his theory of the "Golden Circle," a naturally occurring pattern that is grounded in the biology of human decision making and explains why we are inspired by some people and organizations more than others. "We are naturally cooperative animals when we are in the right environments," he said.
 
Through a crash course on the brain's endorphins, dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin, Sinek revealed that human beings perform best together when they all experience a balance of endurance, accomplishment, pride, trust and safety in the workplace. Leaders, he said, become responsible for instilling this type of work environment at their credit unions.
 
Click to view larger image World Council of Credit Unions Director Patrick Jury, master of ceremonies at Wednesday's session at the 2013 World Credit Union Conference, thanked the sponsors of the event. (Photos provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
"If you want to enjoy the perks of leadership, you must be willing to sacrifice yourself to protect your people," Sinek said. "The best leaders are the ones who act like parents. What do we want as parents? We want to provide opportunity, education and discipline as necessary, all so that our kids can grow up and achieve more than we ever thought was possible for ourselves. It's the exact same thing for a good boss. We commit ourselves to protection and love, and give our time and energy to see that our employees do well."
 
Although the world is constantly filled with danger, Sinek said, the dangers felt inside credit unions are variable. When employees feel safe internally, the chemicals for happiness are balanced, which leads to cooperation, trust, innovation and progress. Work environments in which staff feel unsafe are dangerous to the well-being of employees and the credit union as a whole. Stress, which releases a hormone called cortisol, is contagious and leads to paranoia and self-interest, hampering the desire to protect and cooperate with each other.
 
"Our jobs are literally killing us because we're not feeling safe," Sinek said.
 
One of the best ways to reduce stress is empathy, Sinek continued. "Do something nice for someone. Instead of sending an e-mail, pick up the phone. The care and time you give is the only way to actually share these good feelings. It makes you healthier, happier and inspires people to help you."
 
Prior to the general session, attendees explored leadership challenges in emerging credit union systems, social media marketing, grassroots advocacy, strategic financial planning and wealth management for members during morning breakout sessions.

NEW: Study: Big Banks Didn't Address Fees, Could Lose $92B Deposits In 2014

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WILTON, Conn. (7/19/13 UPDATED 1:30 p.m. ET)--Twenty-six percent of customers at the nation's top 10 national retail banks expressed frustrations about their primary bank in a new study that projects the banks could lose $92 billion in deposits next year as consumers transfer their accounts to credit unions and community banks.
 
Nearly two-thirds (63%) surveyed said they believe banks merely claim to have consumer interests at heart when in fact they only care about the bank's interest.
 
The study means that credit unions still have plenty of opportunity to pick up more membership, as they did when customers' dissatisfaction with bank fees in 2011 led to Bank Transfer Day, in which consumers transferred their accounts to credit unions and community banks, said the Credit Union National Association. Credit unions picked up more than 2.2 million members in 2011 and 2012. CUNA's and the state leagues' Unite for Good campaign is working toward the vision in which "Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner."
 
The study, by Wilton, Conn.-based cg42, cited  broken promises, being nickeled and dimed, and getting hit with unexpected overdraft charges and fees as reasons consumers may move their accounts.

Cg42 said the frustrations expressed by 26% of customers surveyed mean that a projected $627 billion in customer deposits is in jeopardy (or "in play") at the top 10 banks, with $92 billion expected to walk out of the branches.

Bank of America, the most vulnerable brand in 2011 thanks to the unpopular debit card fee that prompted the Bank Transfer Day movement, now ranks as the third most vulnerable bank. Citibank took over the most-vulnerable spot and stands to lose the highest percentage of deposits and customers. In the current study, TD Bank has the lowest brand vulnerability score, replacing PNC, the least vulnerable bank in 2011.

"Customers still feel that their financial institutions aren't serving their best interests and they're frustrated," said Stephen Beck, founder and managing partner of cg42. "Comparing the brand vulnerability of big banks from 2011 to today shows that while the industry suffers from many of the same frustrations, institutions that addressed their customers' concerns significantly improved their competitive position in 2013."
 
Other key findings from the study show that:

  • 15% of vulnerable customers are actively looking to switch their primary bank  while 11% are very frustrated, but not actively looking to switch;
  • 11.4% of Citibank's customers are expected to defect and move $18 billion in deposits to another institution in the next year, which will need to be offset by new customer acquisition efforts;
  • 63% of customers believe that banks merely claim to have consumer interests at heart but in fact only care about their own interests, an improvement from 2011, when 71% believed this to be the case; and
  • 55% of customers in 2013 are uncomfortable with how large the major banks have become compared with 50% in 2011.

Texas Regulator To Disclose CAMEL Ratings To CUs

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AUSTIN, Texas (7/19/13)--Texas state-chartered credit unions will be told what their CAMEL codes are, beginning in September, the Texas Credit Union Department said Wednesday.
 
"[The move] is just a byproduct of the fact that we haven't disclosed CAMEL codes for several years, but the National  Credit Union Administration does [to credit unions]," Robert Baxter, chief examiner for the Texas Credit Union Department, told News Now. "So we thought it was good for credit unions to know where we were coming from.
 
"We are getting credit unions who did not know they were a problem to get on board," he added. "It was time to start changing policies and important for us to be in the driver's seat."
 
The CAMEL rating system is NCUA's method of evaluating the health of credit unions. The rating, adopted by the NCUA in 1987, is based upon five critical elements of a credit union's operations: (C) Capital, (A) Asset quality, (M) Management, (E) Earnings and (L) Asset liability management.
 
"Sharing the CAMEL codes with boards of state-chartered credit unions will benefit Texas credit unions," Suzanne Yashewski, senior vice president and regulatory compliance counsel for the Cornerstone Credit  Union League, told News Now. "CAMEL codes provide the board and management a metric to help monitor critical areas and recognize success."

World Council DSA Honorees, WYCUP Scholarships Recognized

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OTTAWA, Canada (7/19/13)--
Click to view larger image "Credit unions have such great stories to tell, and we don't tell them. But we should tell them," said Pete Crear, former president/CEO of the World Council of Credit Unions,  in accepting the World Council's Distinguished Service Award during the 2013 World Credit Union Conference in Ottawa, Canada.
The World Council of Credit Unions honored three credit union leaders from the U.S., the Caribbean, and Ireland with its Distinguished Service Awards and announced scholarships for five young credit union professionals Wednesday during the closing session of its 2013 World Credit Union Conference.
 
The conference convened on Sunday in Ottawa, Canada.
 
World Council's Distinguished Service Awards went to:
  • Click to view larger image Pat Fay, chair of the Irish League of Credit Unions International Development Foundation, in receiving a Distinguished Service Award from the World Council of Credit Unions, noted he met a young Ethiopian mother who traveled 20 kilometers in the heat to deposit 60 cents in her credit union account because she wanted to put the money aside for her child's future needs. That "confirmed to me the humanity of credit unions," he said.
    Pete Crear, former president/CEO of World Council from 2005 to 2011, former executive vice president/chief operations officer of the Credit Union National Association, and who has served in positions at the state leagues in Michigan, Connecticut and Indiana;
  • Pat Fay, for a 40-year commitment to credit unions as part of the Irish League of Credit Unions that included chairing the league's International Development Foundation and serving as a board member of the league; and
  • Click to view larger image Melvin Edwards, the first World Council of Credit Unions chairman from the Caribbean, accepted one of three Distinguished Service Awards from World Council Wednesday at its 2013 World Credit Union Conference. He now has a consultancy for cooperatives.
    Melvin Edwards, a native of St. Kitts and Nevis who was the first World Council chair to represent the Caribbean credit union, serving in that position from 2007 to 2009, and former chair of the Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions.
Crear, in accepting his award, challenged participants to talk more about the significance of credit unions when they return home from the conference.  "Credit unions have such great stories to tell, and we don't tell them. But we should tell them," he added.
 
Also at the closing ceremony, World Council announced its World Council's Young People Program (WYCUP) scholarship award winners.  The scholarships will be used to attend the 2014 World Credit Union Conference in Gold Coast, Australia. 
 
The recipients are:
  • Click to view larger image Winners of the 2013 World Council's Young Credit Union People (WYCUP) scholarships to attend next year's World Credit Union Conference in Australia are, from left:  Benjamin Janzen, Canada; Eber Osemberge, Brazil; Caroline Domanski, the United Kingdom; Jenn Vandehaar, Canada; and Christopher Morris , U.S. (Photos provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
    Benjamin Janzen, Mennonite Savings and Credit Union, Canada;
  • Jenn Vandehaar, Healthcare & Municipal Employees' CU, Canada;
  • Eber Ostemberg, Sicredi Noroeste MT CU, Brazil;
  • Caroline Domanski, No1 CopperPot CU, United Kingdom; and
  • Christopher Morris, director of communications at the National Credit Union Foundation, U.S.
Janzen also won the National Credit Union Young Leaders Award from Credit Union Central of Canada, the conference's co-host.

Central Canada also honored two credit unions for community economic development and innovation: Vancouver, B.C.-based  Vancity for its Resilient Capital Program that gives investors the opportunity to invest in social enterprises, and North Peace Savings and Credit Union in northern British Columbia for its Virtual Technology Connects the North program, which allows members in remote communities to conduct financial business with their credit union via personal teller machines and video conferencing technology.
 
During the week, the National Credit Union Foundation 's Credit Union Development Education program awarded International Development Educator Certifications to 12 people who completed training in multiple countries and who are active in the international credit union system.

SECU's Fee Free Days Save Checking Accountholders $3.5M

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RALEIGH, N.C. (7/19/13)--State Employees' CU (SECU) in Raleigh, N.C., is offering two member-friendly initiatives--the credit union's Non-Sufficient Funds (NSF) and Overdraft Fee Free Days--which has saved its one million checking accountholders more than $3.5 million in fees in the first five months of 2013.
 
"SECU's NSF and Overdraft Fee Free Days represent the credit union's commitment to providing true consumer value and keeping our members' best interests first," said Jennifer Hamrick, SECU senior vice president of support services. "As a cooperative, the credit union works hard to develop programs that will encourage the financial success of its membership."
 
SECU already offers its members a very low $12 NSF fee. The most common NSF fee at credit unions is $30, compared with $35 at banks, Bankrate reported in March.

With NSF Fee Free Days, SECU waives all NSF fees incurred on two separate days during the calendar year. If a member miscalculates and several checks/debits present with no account funds or traditional overdraft funds available, SECU returns the items, but waives the fees on the first two days of occurrence.
 
The waivers help to alleviate some of the financial burden on members, said the $25.1 billion asset credit union.
 
Similarly, SECU's Overdraft Fee Free Days provide all checking accountholders enrolled in its no-cost-to-enroll Overdraft Protection Program with an automatic benefit of waiving overdraft transfer fees for two days in the calendar year. Overdraft funds will still be transferred from the protecting account to cover the items, but the minimal transfer fee of 50 cents per transaction is not applied. Since the program began five months ago, SECU has waived nearly 700,000 overdraft/NSF fees.
 
While the fee-free programs are tied to traditional checking accounts, SECU also offers a CashPoints Global (CPG) controlled-spending account with electronic-only access through a CPG card. There are no checks, and transactions are limited to the available funds in the account, so there is no risk of overdraft or NSF fees.
 
SECU's base share account is another alternative to avoid NSF/overdraft fees and is accessible through the credit union's more than 1,100 statewide no-surcharge CashPoints ATMs.

Royal CU In Finals Of National Social Media Contest

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (7/19/13)--Royal CU (RCU), Eau Claire, Wis., has advanced to the national round of the Social Madness, a competition that measures a company's social media engagement.
 
RCU advanced through the Minneapolis/St. Paul local round of the competition, sponsored by The Business Journals, and is competing in the medium category, based on the size of its social media audience. A total of 132 businesses in three categories (small, medium and large) are competing for the titles. The three national winners will receive $10,000 for the charity of their choice.
 
The first round of voting will end Monday.  The top 20 vote-getters in each category will move on to the second round. The competition wraps up Aug. 19. Participants are scored on a social-media algorithm that includes votes on bizjournals.com as well as social engagement on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Social engagement is defined as likes, comments and shares of a company's posts by their followers.
 
If RCU wins the competition, it has pledged the $10,000 prize to Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare through Children's Miracle Network Hospitals (CMN). Gillette specializes in caring for children and adolescents who have disabilities and complex medical conditions.
 
Raising funds to support CMN is a credit union industry initiative.
 
Since 1983, CMN has raised more than $4.7 billion--most of it $1 at a time--for 170 children's hospitals across the U.S. and Canada. The donations have gone to support research and training, purchase equipment, and pay for uncompensated care, all in support of the mission to save and improve the lives of as many children as possible.
 

Montana CUs Champion Relay For Life

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HELENA, Mont. (7/19/13)--Hope is the foundation of the Relay for Life--the largest fundraiser for the American Cancer Society--and Montana's credit unions have collectively made a substantial impact in recent years, according to the Montana Credit Union Network.

"Everybody has been affected by cancer," said Ryan Combs, co-chair of the Billings-based Altana FCU Relay for Life team. "So many people pour their heart and soul into this fundraiser because they want to see a cure so badly that they are willing to do whatever it takes."

Fergus FCU has been involved with the Relay for Life since it began in Lewistown 11 years ago. Its team raises funds through events, including a Bunco tournament, bake sales, root beer float Fridays, picnics and raffles. Typically their efforts generate about $5,000 but their record for one year is $14,000.

The original Relay for Life started in 1985 with one man, Gordy Klatt, who wanted to show what someone fighting cancer endures. He ran around a track for 24 hours and raised $27,000. A year later, 340 supporters joined the overnight event and today it's caught on worldwide. Thirty-four Montana communities are holding Relays this summer.

In Circle, Relay for Life was started with the help of staff at McCone County FCU. This year, 10 teams in the community have already raised nearly $14,000. This is the second year that McCone County FCU has had its own relay team.

Fundraising efforts are varied and tailored to each community. Some have organized summer barbeques and gift-wrapping at the holidays with free-will donations. Others offer raffles for trips or motorcycles.

The Giant Springs Chapter of Credit Unions sponsored ice cream sales that every credit union participated in this year, raising more than $1,800. Lael Humble with Montana First FCU in Missoula said the ice cream sales were a big hit. Additional money raised from other collected donations and book mark sales brought the total to $2,750.

In Livingston, the Sky FCU Super Heroes Team is looking to raise $2,000 this year. Staff at High Peaks FCU in Sheridan is on Team Rudy, which raised more than $9,500. In the past five years, Park Side FCU in the Flathead area has donated nearly $9,000, and Altana FCU more than $100,000.

Unity One CU Launches Staff 'Walk the Talk' Program

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FORT WORTH, Texas (7/19/13)--Unity One CU in Fort Worth, Texas, has rolled out a new staff program--"Walk the Talk"--aimed at nurturing the internal culture and increasing employee engagement as part of a three-year strategy, says the Cornerstone Credit Union League.

"The goal of Walk the Talk is to recruit, retain and recognize valued behavior that, we feel, will positively affect co-worker and member relationships," said Erayne Gee Hill, Unity One CU assistant vice president of community and public relations, in the  Leaguer newsletter (July 18).

Organizations and companies "spend tons of time and resources externally but fail to address or recognize internal triumphs or challenges," she told the league, adding that "no house can stand without a solid foundation. It must be properly maintained.
 
"This is especially relevant to credit unions that place member service as a priority. When our staff is knowledgeable, confident, positive and responsive, the member experience is elevated. And, member satisfaction directly impacts the bottom line," she said.
 
Walk the Talk, which launched last week,  involves an everyday recognition initiative--the Walkie program--where "employees can give each other a pat on the back when they see behavior that is 'on brand,'" Hill said.  Employees submit a Walkie on a customized landing page. A Walkie is equivalent to a dollar and can be redeemed for Lands End logo-wear or other accessories. The credit union will expand rewards as the program matures.
 
"We have had 40 submissions so far, which can be attributed to the program's novelty, but we are hopeful that the trend will continue," she told the Leaguer.

The $189 million asset credit union also redesigned its employee newsletter to be brand consistent and engaging, and conducted research and sought feedback to prepare for the campaign. "Walk the Talk is really an employee project--it is a reflection of the group's needs and wants."

In August,  Unity One FCU will form a task force of brand champions to meet regularly and make decisions about the credit union's culture.  Its first project: Re-evaluating the dress code.

The campaign also includes training and communications, with regular staff roundtables to reinforce product and service offerings. Town halls and video conferences with the CEO are in the works."

The program's success "will have a direct correlation with quality member service," she said. "Confidence or self-assurance is one of our core values, and one way for that to happen is to be knowledgeable." By changing its training and internal interaction format, "we can address different types of learners."

She advised credit unions wanting to improve internal communications to use both in-person and video town hall meetings regularly, staff training roundtables, employee newsletters and the credit union's Intranet.

Selected as a Texas Best Place to Work in 2012 and 2013, the credit union is "aiming for 2014 and beyond," Hill said.

Cheney Comments On Cordray Nomination For USA TODAY

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WASHINGTON (7/19/13)--Comments by Credit Union National Association President/CEO Bill Cheney were featured in USA TODAY's story Wednesday about the Senate confirmation of Richard Cordray as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
 
Cheney, who was the only financial industry trade representative quoted, congratulated Cordray's confirmation but noted credit unions' concern "about the impact that a number of the CFPB's regulations and proposals will have."
 
In the article, Cheney said that Cordray, as interim director, had proved "to be receptive of credit unions and particularly our concern about the impact of the actions on our cooperative financial institutions."
 
The article, "Obama praises director of consumer board," also featured extensive quotes by President Barack Obama, Cordray and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). Use the link to access the full USA TODAY article.

CU's One-day Discount Brings In $1.3M In Loans

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MILWAUKIE, Ore. (7/19/13)--A one-day, 1% discount promotion helped Clackamas FCU, Milwaukie, Ore., attract $1.3 million in consumer loans June 21.
 
A typical Friday would bring in about $90,000 in originated, secured consumer loans balances, the $250 million asset credit union said.
 
"To see this success for our members is extremely rewarding," said Andrew Vahrenkamp, Clackamas FCU chief financial officer. "This promotion is mutually beneficial to our members and the local communities--enabling us to give back a significant amount of money to the areas we serve."
 
The discount was available for any vehicle or secured consumer loan of $10,000 or more.
 
The summer traditionally brings families added expenses such as vacation costs and recreational fees, Vahrenkamp said. Clackamas created the special one-day offer to help members save money, he added.