Banks Look to Hike Fees, Customers Strike Back

Bank customers are fed up with fees, so much so that the fee issue is the biggest reason that customers distrust banks. As more banks learn that trust – and not price –drives business and profits, look for more financial institutions to implement relationship marketing programs that might “set the stage” for easier management of bank-related fees.

Bank customers certainly could use the relief. According to the Greenlining Institute, more than 50 million Americans overdrew their checking account at least once in 2009, paying a whopping total of $23.7 billion in overdraft fees for the year.

Worse, the Institute says that half of those 50 million consumers overdrew their bank checking account five times or more during the same year. Given what the Greenlining Institute calls a “common” overdraft fee of $25, that translates into $125 billion? annually in overdraft fees for some 25 million Americans.

Call it the last straw, but a new study clearly shows consumers have had enough. The report, from Mintel Comperemedia released Aug. 26, says more consumers are growing tired of big banks.

According to the report, only 36% of large bank customers trust their financial institution – well below the 57% of consumers who say they trust their credit unions. The reason for the disparity?

You guessed it: bank fees. And banking customers seem hard-pressed to give their banks any wiggle room on overdraft fees.

"Most banks would like to reinstate annual fees on checking accounts and debit cards to make up revenue lost from changes in (financial reform),” comments Susan Menke, vice president and behavioral economist at Mintel. “But banks, particularly the large ones, will be met with substantial resistance from their customers.”

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