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View Diary: House Democrats ask Justice Department to investigate banks over debit card fees (71 comments)

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  •  Slightly, but mostly not. (0+ / 0-)

    It is a real problem that businesses have to deal with.

    In the case of retail banking, I think it's likely that, without the various fees that folk are complaining about, retail banks could spend 30% of their branch human resources on the 5% of their customers that are least profitable -- if so, the 95% subsidize the 5%. I know people who have tiny balances who go to the bank, in person, several times a month because they "don't believe in checks" - why should other customers pay for that absurd waste of resources?

    There really is no reason that a bank shouldn't charge for distinct services - it has to pay the tellers, the rent, the electricity bills, ATM purchases, ATM servicing, mailing statements, etc. I, for example, still get paper statements. I don't understand why my bank doesn't charge me for this (in which case, honestly, I would probably go electronic only or switch banks -- the latter they may fear).

    Surely you would not argue that a bank should not be able to charge for bounced checks (either those you bounce or those that you deposit that bounce)? These cost the bank money in exception handling and the inevitable round of calls to customer service which the customer could have avoided (either by maintaining their balance or by not taking checks from deadbeats).

    Should banks send a courier with cash to your door to save you from going to the bank for no charge? Of course not. Why is talking to a teller when the transaction can be done completely at a machine any different? Should they provide you with cashier's checks for no charge? Of course not (unless, of course, they want to).

    One normally expects to pay for services received. When one goes to a fast food restaurant, they expect lower prices than a full service restaurant. Why would one expect anything different from their bank?

    I think some regulation is appropriate. I would support bans on "account closing fees" (if the banks can't get by without them, they should charge "account opening fees" to cover the eventual "closing" charge). I would support a ban on allowing an account to go negative without a FULL., CLEAR, and INFORMED consent by the customer (a reasonable default would seem to be to bounce checks and never let the account go negative and if a fee takes it negative for more than 30 days, close the account and waive the negative balance due to fees). If the customer wants overdrafts, they can elect to subscribe to that service with full disclosure and possibly monthly charges or per-overdraft charges. Banks should be required to give full disclosure of changes with sufficient notice (perhaps 90 days) and not just by reissuing a tiny type leaflet with subtle changes buried in it -- rather by itemizing the "changes only" in plain language.

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