The Guardian September 20, 2000

Staff to suffer customer outrage at fees hike

"The Commonwealth Bank's plans to raise its fees just two weeks after 
posting a record $1.7 billion profit is indefensible and its innocent 
front-line staff will suffer the brunt of customer anger", Peter Presdee of 
the Finance Sector Union said.

The CBA publicly denied it was planning to raise its fees last September 
when the Finance Sector Union revealed the Bank was holding focus groups in 
which CBA staff were asked how customers would react to fee hikes.

"Now, not only has it publicly changed its plans, but after hearing how 
angry customers would be, it has announced these hikes on the eve of the 
Olympics, probably in the hope that no one would notice!", said Mr Presdee.

"It's inexcusable that fees for over-the-counter withdrawals are rising by 
50 per cent and credit card holders will now be slugged with an annual fee 
of $45 rather than $24!"

"How will a CBA teller explain to customers why they have to pay $3 instead 
of $2 just to withdraw their money? Many elderly people can't use or don't 
feel safe using ATMs  why should they have to pay more for dealing with a 
human being?", Mr Presdee said.

Many of those who don't use ATMs, such as pensioners, are on lower incomes 
and can least afford the totally unjustified increases.

Apart from directly boosting profits, the higher fees are aimed at forcing 
more people to use ATMs and telephone or other forms of electronic banking.

"We fear this fee hike is just another of the Bank's tactics to close more 
branches, cut more jobs and make more money at the expense of its customers 
and staff  it's like taking from the poor to make the rich even richer."

"It's because of this un-Australian greed and arrogance that thousands of 
CBA staff have been forced to strike, attend stop-work meetings, and march 
in the streets recently.

"CBA staff are outraged that severe and deliberate understaffing is seeing 
personal customer service deteriorate. They're appalled that even though 
the Bank will charge customers (who wait in long queues) more for the 
services of a teller, it's trying to pay its tellers less than any other 
major bank!"

"We're calling on the Commonwealth Bank to have a heart and drop its 
ridiculous hikes in charges", Peter Presdee said.

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