herald

Monday 20 August 2018

AIB's new fees 'show two fingers to public'

AIB was today accused of showing "two fingers" to struggling taxpayers after the bank introduced a raft of new charges.

Up to one million customers of the State-owned bank will be hit with fees of around €90 per year -- despite it being rescued to the tune of €20bn.

The bank will punish current account holders who cannot keep their balance above €2,500.

The bank is set to be met with fury by customers who will now only avoid fees if they meet strict new rules.

The move has been met with anger today with one Independent deputy accusing AIB bosses of "showing the two fingers" to the public.

Consumer groups described the move as "insulting" and are advising the bank's one million customers to shop around with the view to moving savings.

As well as the attack on current accounts, savers will be hit with quarterly charges of €4.50 and transaction charges of 20c to 30c if their balance falls below the new level.

The measures -- which come into force from May 28 -- will strip up to €90 from customers' savings. They include:

•20c charge for every debit card transaction

•30c charge for every staff-assisted transaction -- including withdrawals, cheques and lodgements

•20c fee for every cash withdrawal from ATMs using AIB banklink cards and AIB debit cards

Up to 60pc of the bank's customers will be affected.

The changes follow similar moves at Bank of Ireland, EBS and National Irish Bank (NIB) to make it more difficult for existing customers to avoid fees.



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However, those over 60 on AIB Advantage, student accounts and graduate accounts are exempt from the measures.

Defending the move, the bank said it was necessary in order to "become a strong and viable entity again".

"Free banking offerings across the industry have changed significantly in recent times," said AIB director Bernard Byrne. "While this was a difficult decision to make, it is a necessary one if we are to continue to create the conditions in which we can become a strong and viable entity again."

Chief executive of the National Consumer Agency (NCA), Ann Fitzgerald, described the move as "insulting".

"This is really unacceptable. We will be writing to the Central Bank, as well as the regulator for the bank and asking, 'is this is the consumers' best interests?'"

And Independent TD for Dublin North Central Finian McGrath said the move represented a showing of "two fingers" to customers.

"We are talking about a bank that has had billions of taxpayers' cash pumped into it. It is nothing short of outrageous. AIB are showing two fingers to its customers."

hnews@herald.ie

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