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J.D. Power Consumer satisfaction with bank fees drops
WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. (4/23/12)--Consumers grew increasingly dissatisfied with retail banking fees in the past year, with a satisfaction index at 608, down significantly from 625 in 2011 and 656 in 2010, says  a new survey released Thursday by J.D. Power and Associates.

The 2012 U.S. Retail Banking Study, in its seventh year, indicated that overall retail banking customer satisfaction is stagnant, improving by one point in 2012--to 753 on a 1,000-point scale.  The study measured six factors of satisfaction:  account activities, account information, facility, fees, problem resolution and product offerings.

Monthly maintenance fees had the most significant impact on fees satisfaction this year--more so than in the 2011 and 2010 studies--while ATM and debit card fees had less negative impacts on fees satisfaction, said the study.

"The negative reaction to fees reflects customers' irritation about paying for something they didn't have to pay for in the past," said Michael Beird, director of banking services at J.D. Power and Associates. "It also reflects a lack of their complete understanding about what they're getting for those fees. Customers understand why they're being charged for ATM and debit card use, but are not clear on what they're getting for monthly maintenance fees, which drives the bigger drop in satisfaction with those fees."

The study noted improvements in satisfaction with facilities and routine transactions, and with reliability and ease of using ATMs, with the percentage of customers who use ATMs to make deposits more than doubling to 40% in 2012 from 19% in 2008.  Regional banks--defined by the survey as banks with $33 billion to $180 billion in deposits--saw the biggest drop in satisfaction, dropping to 759 from 760, when compare to small banks and big banks.

Big banks still lag other banks in overall satisfaction, but they have improved in reducing the number of problems customers experience and in problem resolution, especially at first contact, said Beird.

Although credit unions aren't included in the study, plenty of recent studies have reported that member/customer satisfaction with credit unions have topped bank customer satisfaction.  Examples include an American Customer Satisfaction Index survey ( News Now Dec. 13),  2011 Bank and Credit Union Satisfaction Survey by Prime Performance (News Now Dec. 8), a 2011 Customer Experience survey by Prime Performance (News Now March 9 ) and a loyalty survey by Temkin Group (News Now March 21).
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