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Bank information must be effective

Have you ever compared the service charges of your bank with that of others to see how competitive the rates are? If you haven't, Pushpa Girimaji tells why you should.

business Updated: May 10, 2009 22:24 IST
Pushpa Girimaji
Pushpa Girimaji
Hindustan Times

Have you ever compared the service charges of your bank with that of others to see how competitive the rates are?

Banks impose charges for basic services such as collection of outstation cheques, and carrying out standing instructions and levey penalties for not maintaining minimum balances or for excess debit entries in your savings account.

You also lose money if you close an account within 12 months of opening. Some banks offer a 50 per cent cut in service charges for senior citizens..

If you click on the icon ‘Useful Information’ on the Reserve Bank website dedicated to “Common Persons” you will see a link that connects you to the websites of over 40 banks on ‘service charges’.

The list of banks include public sector, private sector and foreign banks. The link gives valuable insights. Some banks for example, calculate the minimum balance required in an account on a quarterly basis, some on a monthly and yet others on an average daily basis.

You can also get a good look at the service charges imposed by your bank — and I am sure you will be quite surprised at some of the levies!

The idea of providing such information to consumers is good, but if it is to serve any useful purpose, the information should be more structured and provided in a way that facilitates price comparison.

With most banks, the links take you straight to the ‘service charges’ page, but with some, they do not and you have to search for the ‘service charges’ icon.

And each bank has its own way of providing the information, making comparisons difficult. Some sites have outdated information.
The Reserve Bank has to come up with a specific format for the information and insist on banks updating the information regularly — in a consumer-friendly manner.

Banks also should provide information on their customer charters and their implementation.