France: Consumers still suffering from high bank charges
15 Dec 2011
Banks in France have reduced their charges for consumers
in certain areas but in other key areas they are on the rise. So
says a high-level report evaluating progress over the last two
Back in 2009 French banks were asked to moderate charges that
were judged to be too high, but the impact has been mixed,
according to the Comité Consultatif du Secteur Financier (CCSF).
CI's French members
UFC Que Choisir and
CLCV are both members of this influential committee.
Bank increases with decreases
Overall, the report found that in the period 31 December
2009 to 5 July 5 2011 about as many charges went up as went down.
Those areas which have seen improvements include fees for being
able to check your accounts online, receiving text alerts and
making transfers online.
Costs associated with direct debits (for utility bills etc) have
also gone down. In terms of improvements, the report also
highlights better information provided to customers.
Bank card fees on the rise
On the negative side, bank card fees are among the areas causing
concern. Cards represent 40% of transactions in France and are
getting more and more expensive.
According to UFC Que Choisir "The services that have gone
up most are those we can't do without, like cards. They have gone
up more than inflation, when they were already, for example, 50%
more than fees in Belgium."
Taking money out of machines outside your own bank network has
also gone up, as have insurances against loss of theft of cards.
Banks should also make more effort with costs relating to moving to
another bank, many believe. While closing an account is now free,
and guides on changing banks are now commonly available, most banks
will not cancel direct debits for you without a charge.
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