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Banks protect against account fee limits by imposing ‘management costs’

santander2Portugal’s banks are under pressure to reduce and then limit the amount they charge for running customers accounts, having increased substantially montly fees in recent years – despite heavy criticism from consumer associations and many MPs.

Portugal’s avaricious bankers have turned to the use of confusing packages or service accounts, using a template to deliberately complicate matters and get around what they feel are painfully low charges for running accounts.

The creation of accounts in which a number of products have been aggregated is the new con that banks are using to protect themselves against any limitations on the fees that they charge.

By pooling various financial products into the same ‘account’ – such as debit and credit cards, and intra-bank transfers, among others – the customer can be charged a higher amount than the standard monthly charge. Several banks designate this new andf higher monthly fee as as a “management cost” instead of an “account maintenance cost.”

This sort of bamboozlement is deliberately hard for most customers to unravel and allows banks to raise charges ??- a practice already criticised by entities such as the consumer rights organisation, Deco which now has submitted a 13,000 signature petition to parliament so MPs can debate “the maintenance commission” for current accounts, which now cost an average of of €63.36 per year at the five largest national banks: BPI, BCP, CGD, Novo Banco and Santander – a 45% increase in ten years.

The law in force obliges that commissions correspond to an actual banking service, but rather conveniently, does not define what this service is, nor the corresponding cost. This is why Deco wants to see action taken in Parliament.

The Deco petition asks for the working committee, set up to discuss this issue of bank commissions, to resume work in 2018 after a year of inaction.

The outcome of the parliamentary debate will depend very much on Finnaças guidelines, which in turn will take into account the “orientation” of the Bank of Portugal – an organisation historically disinclined to take any action that might help customers.

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