While Australian governments and watchpuppies do nothing, US Congress is following the UK Office of Fair Trade example and having a close look at legally dubious bank penalty fees.
But you can’t keep a good gouger down – there’s more than a passing suspicion in the UK that banks are quietly increasing other charges and introducing new ones to counter the bottom-line impact of having their pirate penalty fees scuttled.
Yet the British banks are mere amateurs – it looks like Australian banks are increasing various fees and charges while still being allowed to pull the penalty fee con by our couldn’t-care-less regulators. I wonder if, in the great tradition of Willie John McBride, they are merely “getting in their retaliation first”.
Whether it’s higher fees for overseas transactions on credit cards or new charges for paying out a mortgage, I seem to be getting flyers with unpalatable fine print from one bank or another every couple of weeks.
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So if we’re being mugged on the swings and robbed on the roundabout, it becomes more important at least to extract the penalty fee refunds to which we are legally entitled. Thus Crikey is ripping off a good idea from The Guardian and, starting with the easy case of credit card late payment fees, supplying a form letter to use at will (get the Word doc here):
INSERT TODAY’S DATE
INSERT YOUR HOME ADDRESS
INSERT THE NAME OF YOUR BANK
INSERT THE ADDRESS OF BANK
Re: Credit card late payment fee on account number
INSERT YOUR ACCOUNT NUMBER
I refer to the late payment charges which have been applied to my account by
INSERT THE NAME OF YOUR BANK, which amounts to INSERT THE
FULL AMOUNT OF THE BANK CHARGES.
I have been a customer of INSERT THE NAME OF YOUR BANK for
INSERT THE LENGTH OF TIME YOU HAVE BEEN A CUSTOMER
WITH YOUR BANK.
I do not believe that the charges applied to my account reflect the true cost to the bank of me being late in making a payment. The bank is in fact making money on the interest I incur by not making a payment on time.
I therefore ask that you repay the full amount of these charges, INSERT
THE FULL AMOUNT OF THE BANK CHARGES.
I am happy for you to contact me on by telephone on INSERT YOUR
NUMBER to discuss the matter.
SIGN YOUR NAME
TYPE YOUR NAME