Wells Fargo & Co. has cancelled its planned test run of a $3 monthly fee for customers who use a debit card. The trial had been slated for five states, but is now off the calendar, the bank said in statement posted on its website late last week.
Ed Kadletz, head of the bank's debit and prepaid cards division, said in the statement that the fee was cancelled due to customer feedback.
"As we adjust to changes in our business, we will continue to stay attuned to what our customers want," Kadletz said.
Consumers have been adamant and vocal about their dislike of bank debit card fees. Checking account access had been free and aggressively marketed by banks in the past.
An online petition to protest a $5 monthly debit card fee imposed by Bank of America has collected almost 300,000 virtual signatures. The petition also triggered a public relations-minded telephone call from a bank executive to the petition organizer.
Bank of America is reconsidering its fee structure and may offer customers additional ways to avoid the debit-card use fee, according to news reports.
A telephone survey of 1,000 adults commissioned by ING DIRECT, an online bank, found that 43 percent of respondents would change their payment method and 30 percent would quit their bank, rather than pay a debit card fee. Only 13 percent of the respondents said they were willing to pay a such a fee and only if it were "reasonable."
Other large banks have said they won't impose a debit card fee.
TD Bank, a subsidiary of The Toronto-Dominion Bank in Toronto, also said Friday it will "continue to offer instant issue debit cards with no monthly debit card purchase fees."
The pullback on debit card fees doesn't mean banks won't impose other fees for once-free checking accounts or other products or services that were free for many customers. In the end, the issue likely will be more about each bank's overall fee structure than any one individual fee.
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