Bank Fees Kill Customer Satisfaction: Study

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Consumer satisfaction with banking services has improved but fees continue to be a major sticking point with consumers, according to a study done by J.D. Power and Associates released last week.

The 2011 U.S. Retail Banking Satisfaction Study found that overall satisfaction of retail banking customers increased to an average of 752 on 1,000-point scale in 2011, up from 748 in 2010.

Banks that scored the highest for customer satisfaction were: Rabobank with a score of 796, Hancock Bank ( HBHC) with a score of 817, Umpqua Bank ( UMPQ) with a score of 794, Regions Bank ( RF) with a score of 789, and Eastern Bank with a score of 791.

Satisfaction with feel levels tumbled in 2011, with 18 percent of customers saying their fee structure had changed for the worse during the past 12 months, compared with 16 percent in 2010. When fee structures are changed, bank satisfaction decreases by an average of 84 index points, the study points out.

"While there has been a concerted effort made by the banking industry to get back to basics and provide customers with a satisfying retail bank experience overall, the well-publicized attempts by banks to recoup lost revenue due to Reg E debit card revisions by dropping free checking and repricing accounts has clearly had a negative effect," said Michael Beird, director of banking services at J.D. Power in a statement. "The good news for consumers, and the challenge for the industry, is that banks are being forced to clearly define the value they're providing for the prices they're charging."

--Written by Maria Woehr in New York.

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