A report published by Finweek in August last year stated that ABSA was at that stage the most expensive bank to do business with. This may come as a surprise to some but many of the banks consumers have been aware of their high charges for some time.
ABSA may be the most expensive but they are certainly not alone in charging what many South Africans feel are ridiculously high bank charges. South Africans pay almost double the bank charges of other nations to use a cheque account. Nedbank was touted as the most the most expensive bank to use in the past but have since amended their charges to a certain extent and are now considered to be one of the cheapest banks to do business with.
What many consumers find confusing is that there was a major inquiry into bank charges by the Competition Commission that took almost two years to complete, the findings were released and banks were advised to change their pricing structure and lower costs to the consumer. What may have been unclear is that the Commission was not investigating any kind of illegal or cartel activity, with the result that they could not force the banks to do anything. They could merely encourage them to give the consumer a better deal.
Some banks did attempt to comply but the majority have just implemented their annual fee increase as though nothing had happened. The biggest complaint among consumers seems to be that they are not only charged high rates but also that they are charged for so many different things with each charge adding up to a very expensive total.
There are banks in the country that offer really low cost banking, such as Capitech, but their list of services on offer does not seem to be as comprehensive as those of the larger more established banks.
We usually do not have any choice but to interact with banks but maybe we should start to thoroughly investigate our options and not remain with one bank out of blind loyalty or ignore another because of preconceptions we may have about them. It is always your responsibility to get the best deal for yourself and maybe we consumers should raise the subject of bank charges again so the banks know we have not forgotten.
What do you think? Who is the best bank to bank with?