I read a story on NPR’s Marketplace today that really made me stabby. Apparently some banks are now charging fees for customers to receive monthly paper statements. Sure, most of us can access our accounts online and have opted out of paper statements, but that’s not everyone. Banks shouldn’t charge you a fee for providing a core service, like statements.
Who Needs Paper Statements?
I’m sure that’s the question that wealthy bank executives ask themselves. They forget about their poor customers, their rural customers, their elderly customers. Of course, they probably don’t want those customers anymore, but they can’t close the account if there’s money in it, so instead they charge ridiculous fees.
The fact is that some people don’t have internet access, or have unreliable or insecure access. The elderly are a case in point. Although there are some Facebooking Grandmas, most still prefer to do their financial business on paper. It’s how they learned it and how they feel comfortable. They shouldn’t have to spend some of their meager income on a piece of paper that is mailed to their home.
Internet access is also a challenge in rural areas. In these regions, there is no cable or DSL access. Some areas don’t even have landline telephone access, so dial-up isn’t an option. Satellite internet exists, but it’s expensive and unreliable. Why should rural customers have to pay for something that used to be free just because banks have decided that most customers use the internet?
And what about the poor? They might not even have a computer. Sure, they can go to the library, but do you want to print your bank statement at the library? Yeah, me neither. Not to mention that they may be working during rapidly decreasing library hours, which means they couldn’t even print statements there if they were willing to take the risk.
It’s Time to Tell the Banks No
I’m glad that at least one Senator is aware of the problem and urging Elizabeth Warren to do something about it. First it was fees to see tellers, then it was fees to speak to someone on the phone. Now it’s a paper statement? Those are printed by a computer, stuffed by a machine, and mailed by a machine. It’s not costing them that much in salary or benefits, unless those computers are cyborgs, I suppose.
I understand that banks are a business, but they also make money off our money. It doesn’t just sit there in our accounts. They use it to make loans or collect interest on it. Then they collect monthly fees and other ancillary charges. They can spend a few cents a month to send me a statement if I want one.
Charging a business $9.99 a month for a piece of paper and an envelope? I’m sorry, but that’s highway robbery. Pure greed. We shouldn’t stand for that!