Thursday, February 15, 2007

bank fees, Ottawa takes on Jack's response!

Ottawa presses banks over ATM fees
Reuters February 15, 2007

OTTAWA -- Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said on Thursday he was not satisfied with the explanation given by big banks on why they charge fees for using cash machines and is pressing them for more answers.

In response to a challenge by the opposition New Democrats, Flaherty said on January 25 he had asked banks to clarify why they charge clients from other banks for using their automated teller machines.

"The banking association basically said that they'd be continuing doing business as they do. It may be an issue with respect to which there may be some difference of opinion among banks, I don't know. But I'll find out," Flaherty told reporters after appearing before a parliamentary finance committee.

"I said I wanted them to have another look at it," he said, adding he expected to hear back from them within a couple of weeks.

Flaherty told lawmakers at the committee hearing he was looking for a "more direct response" from banks and that he had been encouraged to see that some credit unions had waived the ATM fee within their networks, which are made up by several different institutions.

That practice suggests the market does provide consumers with some choice, Flaherty said.

Last year the country's six biggest banks reported total profits of $19 billion (US$16 billion).

The New Democrats have said Canadians used bank-owned ATMs to make more than 1.1 billion withdrawals and other transactions in 2005 and paid $420 million in fees. It said U.S. and British banks do not charge for these services.

**see Jack Layton's petition