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Rising bank charges are hard to justify

On a negative note…

It is difficult to see how a hike in charges by HSBC can be fully justified.

Yesterday the banking giant, which recently unveiled plans to cut thousands of jobs worldwide, announced a series of rises in banking fees and charges on the Island.

Perhaps this is too much of a simplistic approach, but when times are tough in a place like Bermuda isn't it time to cut people a little slack? A rise of $5 to $8 a month for a chequing account maintenance fee might not seem a lot, but it will stick in the throats of many of the worst off people on the Island.

It is extremely bad public relations and the justification that “We considered several factors before deciding on any banking fee adjustments and continually assess whether the fees we charge cover the costs of providing our banking products and transactions. Overall we are confident that our pricing is competitive and represents fair value for the service we provide to our clients,” simply does not work.

The comments on the story yesterday on www.royalgazette.com bear this out. This was a fairly typical comment: “It's time to keep your money at home. Is it really necessary to go so high? In this economy, the Government can't appeal to the banks to hold off? That increase will only add more debt to people. It may not seem like much to the banks but when it hits someone's wallet it is hard. Come on banks.....take a break!!”

And why is it that in other countries, there is no charge when using another bank's ATM when withdrawing cash, but here there is a significant charge?

HSBC is not the only bank which has been criticised Butterfield Bank has also been in the spotlight when it introduced new fees. Maybe it is time for the Government to encourage other banks to enter our market. There is nothing like competition to lower prices and increase the number of products for the consumer.

Now on a positive note …..

This newspaper must congratulate the National Sports Centre's Board of Trustees for completing what will hopefully be a fine addition to the Island's sporting facilities.

The Island's first 50-metre pool, part of the new $23.4 million National Aquatics Centre, should significantly aid our national swimmers who have done the country proud in overseas events such as the Carifta Games and who now have access to a top-class facility.

It is an amazing statistic that a 50-metre pool is available for approximately every 590,000 people in Canada, every 700,000 people in the USA and every 1.2 million people in the UK. Here it is available for approximately 65,000 people.

Apparently there has been some mutterings of discontent behind the scenes, but taken on face value this is a fantastic facility and should be celebrated as such.

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Published May 29, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated May 28, 2013 at 6:45 pm)

Rising bank charges are hard to justify

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