NEW YORK (
Bank of America's
(BAC - Get Report) decision to begin charging a
monthly fee of $5
for debit card purchases has generated so much uproar among its customers that thousands are threatening to take their business elsewhere.
TheStreet last week following its announcement attracted more than 7,000 voters and an explosive number of comments. Of those who voted, 83%, or 5,868 voters, said they were "sick of being nickeled and dimed" and would stop banking with the nation's largest bank by assets.
Only 11%, or 845 voters, said they will just find ways to avoid the fee by using cash, and 353 readers admitted that, much as they hated the fee, they were simply too lazy to switch banks. We took that as an indication that customers really meant it when they said they would shut their accounts.
Hundreds of thousands of customers have signed an
to get the bank to roll back its fees.
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Bank of America and other banks including
(JPM - Get Report)
(C - Get Report)
(WFC - Get Report)
are slapping new fees on customers as they seek to offset the loss to revenues from new regulations that limit how much they can charge merchants for processing debit card transactions.
Bank of America has previously said that it expects the regulation, called the Durbin Amendment after Senator Dick Durbin who drafted the rules, to cost it an annual $2 billion in revenues.
Still, Bank of America's fee has been singled out by customers and politicians as a particularly unfair fee. Senator Durbin said on the Senate floor earlier this week that Bank of America's customers should "vote with your feet, get the heck out of that bank."
President Obama also added his two cents, saying banks "don't have some inherent right just to, you know, get a certain amount of profit, if your customers are being mistreated."
Bank of America chief Brian Moynihan defended the bank's actions at the Washington Ideas Forum earlier this week, arguing that the fee was fully disclosed and that the bank had a right to make a profit. "What's important is being clear to the customers, providing the great service we provide and making a profit that we can return to our shareholders," he said.