Banks Make It Clear: We’re Sticking It To You With Fees

An article in Boston.com highlighted the fact that many big banks still don’t understand what customer experience is or why it’s the biggest single driver of business success for most companies.  

Apparently Citigroup is about to join a “growing number of banks and credit unions” that have adopted some version of a one-page disclosure form. That form makes it easier for customers to see and understand fees.

Now don’t get me wrong: Making it easier to understand fees is a step forward. After all, ease of doing business is the second level of the customer experience pyramid and only slightly less important than meeting customer needs.

What has me shaking my head is the next part of the article. It says that these new summary pages come in response to complaints about rising fees, including fees that few customers knew about in the first place, like a fee for getting a paper statement and — my personal favorite — a fee for closing an account.   

A fee for closing an account? Really? I may be old-fashioned, but I’m used to paying people to perform a service for me, not paying them to stop performing a service for me.

Here’s why the whole “fee transparency” thing misses the point: Your bank really, really wants you to open more fee-generating accounts with it. When you add a savings account or CD to your checking account, or take out an auto loan or a home equity loan, you ring its cash register.

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