Four banks have decided to drop newly-imposed debit card fees after consumers nationwide cried foul over what they viewed as gouging.
SunTrust Banks Inc., Regions Financial Corp., Wells Fargo & Co., and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. have each all done an about-face in a rare concession to customer demands.
"We talk to our customers. We listen to them," Wells Fargo spokesman Jay Lawrence said. "We want them to tell us how they feel about things, and we make changes and respond."
"We've listened to our clients' feedback and will provide the convenience and security of check cards at no additional charge as part of all of our checking accounts," said Brad Dinsmore, a consumer-banking executive at SunTrust.
The news was a clear victory for consumers.
"It shows you hit 'em in the wallet, they listen," Wells Fargo customer Mark Gilbert remarked. "You vote with your money."
Bank of America also implemented a $5 a month debit card fee just last week. But BofA executives have already said they're working out a set of options to allow customers to waive that fee.
Bank officials had sought to justify the new charges, saying they are feeling the pinch from federal regulations that cap certain types of income and that the money lost needs to come from somewhere.
Sen. Richard Durbin, D-lll.,was pleased with the banks decision to drop the new fees, but he remains suspicious they'll find some other way to raise funds at consumers' expense.
"It's not over by a long shot," he told his Senate colleagues. "The big banks still have enormous power and resources and they're going to continue to find ways to make money at the expense of their customers."