Hi! I'm Paul - CEO of Cushion. AMA about how our service fights your bank fees & interest charges automatically - a $200+ Billion problem in the U.S.

Paul Kesserwani
Oct 11, 2017


Americans spend too much of their hard-earned money on pesky bank fees and credit card interest charges. Over $200 Billion each year 😳

Excessive activity fees, inactivity fees, ATM fees, late fees, service fees... There's a fee for everything!

At Cushion, we're focused on helping consumers (yes, that's you 😀) safeguard their money. Our first offering is a Facebook Messenger bot (currently in BETA) that disputes your bank fees for you.

It's as easy as.. 

  1. Securely connecting your bank
  2. Within seconds we'll notify you of any fees
  3. With your permission, Cushion's bot (Fee Fighter) contacts the bank to dispute the charges & get your money back

What makes Cushion unique is that unlike other personal finance services that notify you of a fee and tell you to resolve it, Fee Fighter takes care of the problem for you.

No other service like this exists, so AMA and don't forget to request an invite at https://cushion.ai!

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Conversation (45)

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Oct 11, 8:33PM EDT0

Hi Paul -- I negoiate with my bank all the time... and they never back down on fees. Why would cushion be able to help?

Oct 11, 4:25PM EDT0

Hi there,

Results vary based on a user's account standing, type of fee, number of fee waivers in the past year, number of times a user's been hit with the same fee, relationship with the bank, and sometimes just the mood of the bank agent - which no one can control. 

Fee Fighter tries its best during every fee fighting sessions, and most of the time, it's successful. That said, there are times when it fails - and that's okay too. It's better to try and get turned down than not to try at all. 

Oct 11, 9:57PM EDT0

Hi Paul, Thanks for your AMA! How do I know I'm not talking to a bot right now?

Oct 11, 3:18PM EDT0

Hi Alistair,

Great question 😜

If a bot was producing the quality of answers that you can see in the other questions, then you should feel like you're in good hands with Cushion's bot fighting your bank fees as well!

Oct 11, 3:38PM EDT0

Hi Paul,

I'm not sure how many bank fees are there, to begin with, can you help me understand which one of those you found the most annoying? 

Oct 11, 2:19PM EDT0

Hi Nawar,

Over the years, banks have created a very long list of fees. You have probably heard of the more common ones like Late Fee and Overdraft Fee. Others, like Inactivity Fee or Human-teller Fee, might sound less familiar.

The most infuriating charges seem to be the ones that people are completely unaware they agreed to in the first place. 

For example, in 2016 Americans spent $33.3 Billion on Overdraft Fees, yet 50% of those folks don't remember opting into overdraft "protection" in the first place.

Another example is Monthly Service Charge. This is a fee, typically between $8 and $30, for every month that your checking/savings account balance drops below a certain dollar amount. You're basically being charged a penalty for not having enough money in that account - which is ludicrous. 

Oct 11, 2:53PM EDT1

how do i need to believe that,


Oct 11, 11:41AM EDT0

How long has it taken you from conception to the finished app?

Oct 11, 1:35AM EDT0

Hi Katherine,

We have been working on this idea (which has evolved a bit over time) for ~ 1 year. Automating the process of fighting banks fees has not been done before. Because this concept is very technically challenging and disruptive, it has taken almost a year to build the necessary partnerships, team, and technology to make this possible :)

Oct 11, 12:28PM EDT0

Will you have a free version for trail or will it be a payed APP? 

Oct 10, 9:45PM EDT0

Hi Lou,

Since we're still beta testing our service, it is free at this time. In the next month or so, as we rollout out the service to more people, we will start charging.

However, I do want to emphasize that users only pay Cushion when Fee Fighter (our bot) successfully gets them money back. In other words, Cushion keeps a 25% cut of the recouped money only when it adds value. 

This model allows anyone to try Cushion for free and only pay for the benefits using the money Fee Figher got back for you - instead of out-of-pocket.

Oct 11, 12:25PM EDT0

How long did you test the app and what was the general feedback?

Oct 9, 2:13PM EDT0

Hi Julie,

We actually ran tests for two months in which we saved users a bunch of money. Some of our users were so impressed with the product that one of them asked us to hire him and another asked to invest in the company. 

When we collected feedback , the three most common responses were:

  1. Getting set-up with Cushion was very quick and easy
  2. Disputing bank fees was truly effortless
  3. Fee Fighter is adorable

Since then, we have made serveral improvements to the service and are now in phase two of beta testing our solution. 

Oct 9, 2:27PM EDT0

Is it free to download or how much is it?

Oct 8, 3:09PM EDT0

Hi Robert,

The service is free for anyone to sign up for. If Fee Fighter (our bot) successfully gets you money back, then Cushion keeps a 25% cut. That way you're never paying for the service out of pocket; instead you're paying for it using the money Fee Figher got back for you (aka "found money").

We're going to add some features that allow you to share your results on FB/Twitter and refer friends to Cushion. Doing so will allow you to keep up to 100% of the waived fees.

Oct 8, 3:45PM EDT0

What was the biggest fee you saved someone to date?

Oct 8, 10:55AM EDT0

Hi there,

Individual fees range from a few cents to hundreds of dollars. The most we've saved one Cushion customer in one fee fighting session was $187.

That customer was actually unaware that he had accrued $250+ in fees and was both surprised and delighted when Fee Fighter messaged him about the $187 refund. 

Oct 8, 11:22AM EDT0

Do you or whoever has designed the dialogue have a legal background?

Oct 8, 4:17AM EDT0

Hi Nicole,

When a user talks to a bank agent about their fees, they're talking to them like a normal person - not a lawyer. That is how our bot interacts with banks on your behalf.

I do not have a legal background as that would probably be the wrong background to start a company like this one. However, we do work with a top tier law firm that's involved in all legal aspects of our business. 

I hope that answers your question!

Oct 8, 10:57AM EDT0

Wouldn't I need to give my banking information? How do I know it will be safe?

Oct 8, 1:55AM EDT0

Hi Tracy,

Our company's entire reputation rides on our ability to provide a secure service. Earlier in my career I worked at three different security companies which tought me a lot about the space, but more importantly allowed me to meet incredible security engineers - some of whom I have hired to secure our core product. 

We use bank-level security to make sure that your sensitive personal and financial information is fully encrypted and securely stored. The most sensitive information never touches Cushion’s servers and is only handled by our security partners.

Oct 8, 11:05AM EDT0

What a brilliant idea! Do you believe that we also need a banking revolution like they had in Iceland?

Oct 7, 5:23PM EDT0

Thank you Jennifer!

I don't know if a banking revolution is the answer. What I do know is that banks in the U.S. are competing for customers by undercutting each other and offering flashy sign-up deals. As a result, the cost of customer acquisition is very high ($400-$500 per user), and the banks need to make up those costs somehow. 

Instead of generating money through fees by laying out obstacles for consumers to trip over, banks should spend their energy creating solutions that add value to their customers -- who will in turn gladly pay for those services. 

Last edited @ Oct 10, 9:18PM EDT.
Oct 10, 9:17PM EDT0

How can a Facebook bot contact my bank?

Oct 7, 4:22PM EDT0

Hi Taylor,

The Facebook Messenger bot is the side that interacts with you - the user. The purpose of the Facebook Messenger Bot is to:

  • help you sign up
  • notify you of any bank fees
  • give you updates about any fee fighting sessions
  • offer you additional money saving services as we add them on

It's essentially the way that you interact with Cushion, instead of downloading an app.

On the backend our code contacts the bank through secure email or online chat to dispute your charges.

The reason our users love the service is that there's no app to download, it only takes a few minutes to sign up, and then the bot does all the work behind the scenes to get your money back.  

Oct 7, 4:57PM EDT0

What inspired you to come up with this idea?

Oct 7, 3:56PM EDT0

Hi Craig,

The inspiration is a large (unexpected) bank fee (balance transfer fee to be specific) that my dad faced last year. English is not my dad's first language, and when he deals with customer support (at a bank, Comcast, or anywhere else) he gets super stressed, starts sweating profusely, and hates every second of it. 

I thought to myself that in this day and age when we can request a taxi by pressing a button (Uber) or get our groceries delivered to our doorstep effortlessly (Instacart), why do we still spend 30 minutes on the phone having a stressful conversation with the bank to get our own money bank?

That sparked the idea of using artificial intelligence (AI) to do it for us :)

Oct 7, 4:51PM EDT0

Hi Paul, great ot have you as a Host with us :)

Fee Fighter is truly innovative. How did you come up with this idea? Also, what do I need to do to connect the bank with the bot?

Oct 7, 1:10PM EDT0

Hi Shilpa,

Thanks for having me!

I've answered the question about what inspired me to create Cushion in a few different places, so I'll address the one about connecting your bank instead.

We're currently in Beta and inviting users onto our platform slowly so that we can thoroughly test our service. To get on that waitlist, please request invite on our website: https://cushion.ai

When it's time to sign up for Cushion, you will interact with Fee Fighter through Facebook Messenger. There you will:

  • Provide your invite code
  • Sign up (full name and email)
  • Securely add your bank of choice, as long as we support it 
    It's important to note that no sensitive information is shared via chat. It's all done through secure web views like the one below
  • Within 60 seconds, Fee Fighter will let you know if you have any fees or interest charges that are elligible to be disputed

I hope that answers your question!

Last edited @ Oct 8, 11:48AM EDT.
Oct 8, 11:47AM EDT0

Do you think your idea will be a case of 'let's wait' and see and when word gets around that it works everyone will jump on the band waggon?

Oct 7, 11:55AM EDT0

Hi Ricky,

This should not be a case of wait and see. When we did our alpha, one user posted his results ($133 saved within 1 hour of signing up) and my inbox was flooded with people requesting an invite code to Cushion.

This is such a big paint point in the U.S., and there is so much money on the line, that we feel confident folks will be showing off their results and helping us grow very quickly.

Oct 7, 2:27PM EDT0

Do you think people are really aware of how the banks steal from us?

Oct 7, 7:10AM EDT0

Hi Cynthia,

To be honest, I was shocked when I learned some of the stats out there:

  • The average U.S. household pays $329 in bank fees annually
  • The average U.S. household with credit card debt pays a total of $1,292 in credit card interest per year
  • With that in mind, 50% of American adults cannot afford a $400 emergency if one were to come up

These number are terrifying. While I don't think most people are aware of these specific stats, or the $200 Billion in bank fees and credit card interest each year, across the board people distrust their banks. 

Oct 8, 11:15AM EDT0

Can I get into trouble because of whatever you are doing?

Oct 7, 6:39AM EDT0

Hi Tony,

This is a great question, and the short answer is that you should not get in trouble for using Cushion.

The best way to think about it is the same way you give a stock broker authority to make trades (buy or sell stock) on your behalf, or a financial advisor access to get your finances in order, you're allowing Cushion's bot (Fee Fighter) to dispute your bank fees on your behalf.

Oct 7, 2:33PM EDT0

Do you think that the banks will fight you and make your life difficult?

Oct 7, 5:32AM EDT0

Hi Angela,

Since banks generate a lot of revenue from bank fees & interest charges, I definitely forsee them pushing back on us and trying to make our lives difficult. Then again, any time you introduce something new and disruptive to a market, you should expect resistance. Uber vs the taxi mafia and Airbnb vs hotels are great examples.

That said, our goal is not to upset or combat the banks. We are a consumer-centric company doing what's best to help our users safeguard their hard-earned money.

Oct 7, 2:24PM EDT0
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