Personal Finance

Monday 28 July 2014

Customers 'cynical' over the fees imposed by their banks

Charlie Weston, Personal Finance Editor

Published 19/03/2014|02:30

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The new Visa debit cards are ‘confusing customers’.
The new Visa debit cards are ‘confusing customers’.

Consumers are confused and unsure about bank charges being imposed on them.

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And people are resentful and cynical about banks, new research commissioned by the Central Bank has found.

Banks have responded to being bailed out by taxpayers with a new regime of charges and fees, some of which can't be avoided.

The research, carried out by Millward Brown Lansdowne, found fees of between €30 and €35 every three months were now the norm. Bank charges are one of the main reasons people in this country prefer cash to electronic payments.

"Many consumers are not clear exactly what fees and charges they incur to conduct their banking," the research, entitled 'Consumer Payment Methods' found. And the report found that most people "are negative and cynical regarding charges for transactions, account handling and/or account maintenance", according to the report.

Consumers put money into a bank and consider it to be their money.

This means they resent having to pay to withdraw it or for spending on a debit card.

AIB requires current account holders to keep a balance of at least €2,500 to avoid fees of up to 35c per transaction.

Bank of Ireland has a quarterly fee of €5 whether or not the account is in balance. And customers are hit by fees of up to 40pc per transaction if they fail to keep at least €3,000 in the account throughout the quarter.

Ulster Bank charges €4 a month unless customers lodge at least €3,000 into their account or maintain a balance of at least €3,000. KBC Bank charges €6 every three months, but no other charges. Permanent TSB has a quarterly fee of €12 a month unless at least €1,500 is lodged each month.

CLARITY

The research found a lack of clarity about when and in what circumstances charges and penalties apply.

Consumers are smart enough to realise higher charges have been inevitable given the collapse of the financial system.

But they do not want to see new charges introduced by stealth to compensate banks for bringing in new payment options. And replacing Laser cards with Visa and MasterCard debit cards has caused confusion, as debit cards work the same as the old Laser card, as a consumer can only spend money on one if they have funds in their current account.

But people associated the Visa symbol with credit cards.

The research found: "Confusion arises as to the difference between Visa debits cards and credit cards. The new card requires further consumer education and usage so people can understand it fully."

The research also found that Irish people are among the most enthusiastic users of cash, compared with electronic payments.

But this is unlikely to change because of high bank charges and the fact that consumers find it easier to budget using cash.

Irish Independent

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