Though Bank of America surely expected a certain amount of attrition when it announced it would begin charging a monthly fee for some customers to use their debit cards to make purchases, it probably didn’t expect that it would see a full 20% increase in the number of customers saying “bye-bye” to BofA.
But that’s exactly what the bank says happened during the final three months of 2011, during which fed-up account holders opted to move their money elsewhere.
“I’d say that yes, we had some impact from the $5 debit fee,” said BofA CEO Brian Moynihan during a conference call with bank investors about the “elevated level” of account closures. “That’s why we made a decision to reverse it.”
Ed Mierzwinski of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group tells ABC News that there is much for banks and other companies to learn from public relations debacles like the BofA fee.
“The BofA fiasco… should be a lesson to other banks that consumers are angry that their practices wrecked the economy and that consumers now realize that they have choices,” he says. “Banks will now be careful to only attempt to impose fees that add value, as opposed to nuisance or “gotcha” fees.”