First, Sun State Credit Union in Gainesville started charging customers two bucks if they had the gall to enter one of their branches more than four times a month. (Heaven forbid you actually encourage customers to come in and give you their money.)
Sun State may also fine you $2 if you don’t have your deposit slip ready when you pull up to the drive-through window. “I was outraged,” said Gainesville resident Karen Soesbe, who got smacked with the fee. via Consumerist
“It’s not a lot of money. I know that. But to be charged $2 just for not having your bank slip at the drive-through teller just seems wrong.”
It’s fair and perfectly legal, insists Sun State CEO Jim Woodward. Besides, he says, everybody does it. “If you look at our competition, you’d see that the fees we’re charging are fair, based on what’s going on in the market right now.”
In other words, it’s OK because everybody’s reaming their customers.
Consumer advocate Ed Mierzwinski of the Florida Public Interest Research Group agrees that the fees aren’t illegal. Actually, financial institutions use them as a profit center.
“Primarily banks, but also credit unions, have a three-part strategy to increase their fee income. They raise existing fees, make it harder to avoid fees and invent new fees. Pretty soon, the way things are going, people (will be charged) to breathe the air in the bank or credit union.”
Banks, credit unions, financial institutions of all kinds give lip service to how much they love their customers, yet they keep slamming us with ridiculous, user-unfriendly fees buried in the fine print of multi-page disclosure agreements.
If I was a member of that credit union, I’d close my account in a flash — and tell all my friends about the shabby treatment I received. (Actually, I do belong to a credit union because it charges fewer fees, among other reasons. Come to think of it, mine once slapped me with a $35 fee for covering a $2 overdraft. Talk about a profit center!)
If a company treats you badly, vote with your feet, people. Take your dollars somewhere else. Financial services is a highly competitive sector. There are lots of other banks around.
Business owners: Want to attract lots of customers? It ain’t rocket science. Respect your customers. Treat them right. Be fair. Good customer service is rare these days. To get ahead, become the exception. The company that customers rave about. Do away with user-unfriendly practices, like predatory bank fees. They may fatten your purse this quarter, but over the long run they tarnish your reputation.
Eventually your company becomes the one that pays the price.