As the surprising success of the consumer movement against fees charged by major banks begins to fade into memory, some have started questioning whether it was ultimately a success.
The recent outcry that swept through customers of the nation's biggest banks was sparked largely by their decision to begin charging fees for using debit cards, generally in the range of $5 per month.
Banks were shocked by the opposition voiced against this plan and quickly backed off when others failed to back up their decision.
But many pointed out that the banks would have little choice in whether they increased fees, simply because of the lost revenue from the recent banking reform bill. The caps imposed on debit card transaction fees collectively lost the financial sector more than $12 billion annually.
The New York Times reports that many banks have not waited to explore options for further fees. Bank of America has already imposed a new $5 fee to replace a lost debit card with even higher charges for faster delivery. U.S. Bancorp now plans to charge 50 cents for mobile deposits and TD Bank intends to charge as much as $15 for having money wired to an account.
Even before the debit card fee fiasco, Bank of America had already raised fees for its MyAccess checking account, along with banks that were uninvolved with the debit card fees like Chase and Citigroup. These charges increased anywhere from $2 up to $10 per month to as much as $12 from potentially nothing.
The Times notes that while consumers have voiced their disapproval of new fees, the $12 billion shortfall amounts to between $15 and $20 per month from each American banking customer to meet their prior performance. With the economy struggling, the financial sector could also see another $8 billion in lost revenue from reduced lending.
Complaints have grown about customer treatment, with many suggesting that banks have made it more difficult to change accounts to save money. Many financial executives have expressed confidence consumers will not switch away from the big banks, but CNN reports that this particular complaint is the most salient among consumers. Connecticut-based consulting management firm cg42 suggests that the primary reasons people would consider switching banks are, in order, poor customer service, fees and unfair charges.
"I can see a 'dump my bank' as a popular [New Year's] resolution this year," John Ulzheimer, a credit specialist at SmartCredit.com, told the news source.