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Monday 28th of September 2009
September 24, 2009    

EU: Bank fees violate consumer rights

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by David Masters

Banks are letting customers down and violating customers’ rights with opaque borrowing rules and incomprehensible fees, a European commissioner said this week.

Meglena Kuneva, consumer protection commissioner, said: “Retail bankers are letting consumers down.

“There is widespread evidence that basic consumer principles are being violated.”

Kuneva made the comments at the launch of an EU report into retail banking.

Banking fees at two-thirds (66%) of the banks surveyed were so unclear that the report’s writers had to consult experts to find out when the fees would be charged.

Information on the precise details of accounts is often “incomprehensible, insufficient and presented in too many different ways”, the report said.

Credit agreements at some UK banks were found to take 55 minutes to read through properly.

“Banks need to put their house in order with a culture change in the way they treat customers,” Kuneva said.

Consumer rights group Which? welcomed the report and said British banks must stop taking their customers for granted.

“The lack of transparency around financial products has been evident in the UK for a long time,” said Doug Taylor, Which? personal finance campaigner.

“It’s no wonder customers can’t compare accounts, and end up staying with the devil they know.”

A 2006 report by the Office of Fair Trading found banks generate an average of £152 per year from every account through default fee charges and foregone interest.

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