Tuesday, March 6, 2007

ATM Fees - The lunacy continues

As I've observed before the federal government has no business micro-managing bank fees. Even if politicians did have a legitimate role to play, ATM fees would (should) be far down the list of concerns. Having a conservative finance minister continuing to raise the 'issue' with banks is supremely annoying. The Bank of Nova Scotia CEO is right - Flaherty and all other federal politicians should butt-the-hell-out!

This is chickensh*t politics, with the NDP in it's traditional role as chief bank-basher and the Tories pretending to play along because bank-bashing is such a popular sport.

Now PM Harper has weighed in. He says he feels like other Canadians when he 'occaisionaly' 'has to' pay ATM fees. They 'annoy' him. Well, as much as I like and admire our Prime Minister I think his nose is stretching on this one. I demand to see proof that he has ever 'had to' pay an ATM fee. But if he has I seriously doubt that he's thought twice about paying it. And if 'annoyance' is the new gauge for deciding policy, when can we expect to see the GST removed and our income taxes radically cut?


Clive said...

I agree that the government should not be regulating and micro-managing fees; however it's disingenuous to suggest that the customer has choice, when there is no difference between the fees charged by all of the big banks.

The sorely needed improvement in Canada's retail banking sector should come through deregulation and allowing any and all financial institutions to offer retail banking services. Let some foreign banks in and service fees would disappear overnight. The UK has free banking; why shouldn't we? Answer: because our banks are a cartel, and they have a deregulated banking industry.

Erik Sorenson said...

Clive is bang on. I'm sure that it rankled Falherty to have to go to the banks, but his hand was forced by the NDP. But Rick Waugh is really not being "prudent" when he comes up with that response.

As Clive notes, all the Feds would have to do is amend the Bank Act and change the Sched B class to look a lot like Sched A (big 5/6) sans ownership restrictions, and Waugh's profits would come tumbling from real competition.

I suspect this may just be token bluster on Waugh's part, and that the banks will come up with a (less than desirable) solution to Flaherty's request. Pay very close attention to Flaherty's words after his meeting with the bankers.

Flognuts said...

I don't think they should butt out at all. Banks are protected monopolistic entites in Canada. As such , they have to be forced to come to terms with some realities such as they are not entirely free to gravitate totally to market forces.
It is amusing that banks have deep sixed hundreds of thousands of tellers' jobs , at 45,000 a year average, gone out and "hired" a bunch of machines, and now, even with all their savings from the 24/7 machines versus tellers who get sick and needd sleep, they want to charge fees ?
I pay fees on my simple checking account. $7.00 a month for the most basic service which is 50 transactions a month , non-teller transactions. I haven't darkened the door of a bank in years for a transaction. I think the banks are just money grubbing parasites, and conservatism requires they be brought down a peg or two.

JR said...

Clive,erik, People do have choices. They can use a machine from another company and pay $1.50. Or they can use a machine operated by their own bank and pay zip. Or, they could switch to a credit union.

I agree that where changes are needed are at the top level - including deregulation to ensure more competition. This foo-foraw about ATM fees is just plain chickensh*t politics.

And I agree that Flaherty and Harper have been sucked into it by the idiot NDP trying to play Robin Hood. I know it must irk them (Tories) to have to play this silly bugger game. It obviously irks me.

flognuts, "banks are just money grubbing parasites"?? So you think banks operate a service we can all do without (yet you pay 7 bucks a month for it)? Or, you think banks should be in business to lose money and 'help the little people'? Or you think businesses should be in business to create jobs? I think not.

Anonymous said...

It's good politics to "raise the issue". The approach should be to de-regulate retail banking instead but this should get some votes.