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Do Most Of Us Avoid Bank Fees? Doubtful

The American Bankers Association says survey results show 71% of us say we don't pay bank fees.The American Bankers Association is throwing around a new statistic about how “Most Bank Customers Pay NOTHING for Banking Services” — its caps, not ours.

And we’re calling foul.

The ABA, a banking lobbying group, paid for a marketing research firm to survey 2,000 people and ask them what they paid in banking fees.

Seventy-one percent of those surveyed said they pay no fees.

And here’s why we think this information is a load of bunk: the results are how people responded, NOT what they actually pay — our caps, not the ABA’s.

It’s a survey, not a study.

When your doctor asks you how many drinks you have per week, how accurate is your answer? That’s the kind of “survey” the ABA did here.

It did not delve into hard data about what people actually pay.

It didn’t ask its members how much their customers pay on average.

Instead the ABA asked consumers, relying on their memory to be accurate tabulators of how much in banking fees they pay a year — and for the consumer to be honest in saying what they pay.

Off the top of your head, do you know how much you pay in banking fees?

Think about it.

How many times did you hit that out-of-network ATM?

Accidentally take out too much money in one shot?

Pay for something in another country?

I’m pretty savvy about this stuff, and I’ve still paid $32.24 in banking fees on my checking account this year, a mix of ATM and foreign transaction fees.

And I only know what I really paid because it’s tracked for me on my account.

Did those 2,000 surveyed banking customers have the same data at their fingertips? I don’t think so.

So while what the ABA claims is technically correct — that 71% of respondents say they don’t pay any banking fees — it’s a misleading marketing statistic of its own creation and should not be used in a defense that new banking fees aren’t pinching customers.

Off the top of their heads, they just don’t recall it.

“It’s impressive that so many customers avoid paying any bank fees,” said Nessa Feddis, ABA vice president, senior federal counsel and retail banking expert in the press release.

No, Nessa.

It’s impressive how banks have lead people to believe they don’t pay fees.

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