MORE than a million customers of Bank of Ireland have been warned about a controversial new fee structure for current accounts that has come into force.
Those who do not keep €3,000 in their account at all times will be hit with fees and charges.
A consumer lobby group claimed most of the bank's estimated 1.2 million personal customers would end up having to pay.
The chief executive of the Consumers Association, Dermott Jewell, said: "It beggars belief that this is happening.
"Very few people can leave €3,000 in an account and earn no interest on it. Most people have not got €3,000 to spare.
" Bank of Ireland is as good as guaranteeing that most people will get caught with bank charges."
This is the second time since 2011 that the bank has changed the criteria for avoiding transactions charges.
Up to yesterday customers could avoid fees by lodging €3,000 to their account once a quarter and making at least nine debit payments each quarter. They could have escaped charges by keeping €3,000 in their account during the entire quarter.
From now on the only way to avoid fees and charges on the Pay As You Go and Flat Fee accounts will be to stay in credit of €3,000 every minute of every day. No interest will be paid on this.
Those who do not keep enough money in credit in their accounts will be charged 28c for internet transactions and ATM withdrawals.
The new regime does not apply to student, graduate and golden years current accounts.
Charges for replacing a lost or stolen debit/ATM card have gone up from €5.90 to €8.
Last month the bank put up its variable and loan-to-value mortgage rates for residential and investor owners by 0.5pc.
The bank is also reducing services at more than 40 branches. Counter cash services will only be available at these on certain days of the week.
And the bank has removed the option of paying credit card bills with cash in branches.
It also said yesterday its old Laser cards will be cancelled from December 10. It has been gradually replacing these with Visa debit cards – where people can only spend money they have in their current account.
The bank admitted that some customers had not received the new cards because the letters had been returned or they had asked it not to send them letters.