Could Making It Easier To Switch Banks Stop Rising Fees?
Bank of America didn’t seem to be entirely prepared for the public outcry it received over the announcement that all debit card holders would be charged $5 a month to use their card. But, unlike restaurants or retailers who are easy to boycott in protest, they probably weren’t too concerned about the fallout and calls from people saying they would be switching banks. After all, transferring accounts is a difficult process — changing autopays, notifying companies, opening new accounts, ordering new checks and cards. Who’s going to go through all of that hassle to save themselves $60 a year?
But what if it wasn’t a hassle?
Democratic Senator Dick Durbin is urging all Bank of America customers to put their money where their mouths are — or where their feet are — and switch to a new financial institution. Durbin, who is being singled out by the bank, who claims that they have to raise fees in order to compensate for the money they will be losing over new regulations authored by the senator, is firing back at those institutions.
“Bank of America customers, vote with your feet. Get the heck out of that bank. Find yourself a bank or credit union that won’t gouge you for $5 a month and still will give you a debit card that you can use every single day,” urged Durbin. “What we are doing is fair to try to strike some balance in an industry that has shown little or no balance. And one of the worst offenders in this is Bank of America, the largest bank in the United States.”
Durbin may be talking big, but Democratic Congressman Brad Miller is proposing action. Miller is working on legislation that would make it easier for customers to simply leave a bank they don’t like and move to a new one without all of the additional complications. According to Miller, “The biggest banks have turned the switch for market forces to the off position. If consumers could shop around for banks the way they can for everything else, banks wouldn’t think they had a God-given right to pay their executives vulgar bonuses and still make enormous profits, and consumers would get a much better deal.”
So what would be included in Miller’s bill? According to the Huffington Post, a bank customer would have the right to close an account at any time, with no fees or punitive charges, via email, phone or in person, and the bank would inform the customers of reoccurring payments and charges to the account for 30 days, to ensure the customer doesn’t wrack up new fees, delinquencies or collections while the account is being switched.
Would you be more likely to switch your bank if it were easier? That question could be the one to make or break the new attempts to regain lost profits on the backs of their customers.
Photo credit: revisorweb