TD tells bank customers ‘to vote with their feet’

An opposition TD has called on bank customers to “vote with their feet” after being hit with unexpected 50% hikes on charges linked to some accounts.

Fianna Fáil finance spokesman Michael McGrath made the comment in response to the move by Permanent TSB in recent weeks.

In a move that has been defended by the bank, PTSB has drastically increased the cost of charges on what it described as “older legacy current accounts”.

The increase was confirmed in letters to customers in recent days, and involves quarterly rises from €12 to €18 and in rare cases from €3.18c to €18.

The bank said the older accounts were out of the sectoral norm and the increases were “to bring them into line with the market generally”.

A spokesperson said people over the age of 60 can apply for the charge increases to be “waived” and that affected customers “may be able to take steps to reduce or eliminate the charges” by maintaining a current account balance, using online banking, and lodging a certain amount each month.

“This review does not impact customers who signed up to the former ‘fee-free banking’ current account which was the key current account offering for a number of years up till 2016,” said the spokesperson.

“The review does impact older ‘legacy’ current accounts. PTSB is advising customers that some fees and charges will increase to bring them into line with the market generally.”

While the increased charges were approved by the Central Bank and are in line with others offered by rival institutions, Mr McGrath said that customers should make their anger felt.

“Customers need to make their voice heard and vote with their feet. There are some good deals out there, the same as with gas and electricity, and they can make their voice heard on this by going elsewhere,” he said.

“Customers should be aware of ways to lower charges, and in particular I would like to see more people paying for transactions electronically. But nobody wants to see bank increases, from a consumer’s point of view or elsewhere.”

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