There was once a time in our country when dark nights, deserted paths and the onset of robbers could mean only one thing…that your money won’t be yours for very long. But, nowadays, this process of “loot” has become much easier than before.
There is no need to get out at night or be mugged by robbers anymore…you can simply stand at a petrol pump and get looted, by buying 200% costlier petrol, you know? Or, you could get scammed by the builder mafia and keep paying EMI for the rest of your lives, and that too, without the house ever being delivered!
Taxes have harassed the middle class since time immemorial. Now, banks have added icing on the top of this “loot cake”. From 1 November, ICICI bank – which is counted as one of the biggest banks in India – started levying “convenience” fee from customers.
- If you use the services of bank’s ATM anywhere between 6 pm to 8 am, then a fee would be charged.
- A fee would be charged by the bank if you deposit a sum of 10,000 Rs or more in the account
This ain’t happening with ICICI account holders only…other private banks such as AXIS bank will also charge their customers…a fee for using banking services in “non-banking” hours, plus if money is being withdrawn more than 3 times in a month, then one must pay 150 Rs to the bank. In other words, “paise withdraw karne ke liye bhi paise bharo!”
Banks want us to keep our “precious monies” in the bank accounts only, which is why they’re rolling out excessive fees, hidden charges, and what not! But, we the people, as their customers have a problem…why don’t banks provide us “smart interest” rates, because if they did, we would’ve kept our monies in the banks only, right?
Not very long ago, an account in the bank would mean free and assured basic services…But just like we need to pay money for a window seat in budget airlines today, in much the same way, we need to pay to get things done in the bank.
Well, the economy is already in shambles and the NPA list is getting longer by the day, hence, the banks are in a sorry state themselves. Meaning: “Agar vo bole to bole kya, kare to kare kya?”
ATM transaction fee, cash transaction fee, debit card fee, credit card fee, duplicate statement fee, money transfer fee, minimum balance fee, and so on. Whether it’s corona time or whatever the reason for low balance, banks could not care less!
But the problem is not the fees and charges themselves but the fact that they’re many-a-times hidden. That is, banks don’t reveal these costs to their own customers, and deduct the money directly from their account balance!
Every year, banks earn thousands of crores of rupees through these fees and hidden charges. In fact, between April 2015 and September 2018, banks earned 10,000 crores by just penalizing the common man, from just two fees: minimum balance and ATM usage fee!
(If you think about it, banks have looted us to resolve the bad loans of infamous businessmen such as Vijay Malya and Nirav Modi)
Bank selling in-house products
People have not been spending their money due to an uncertainty in the market caused by corona and lockdown. Seeing this behavior, banks advise their customers to invest their monies in bank’s own ULIPs, mutual funds, pension plans, etc. which keep money with the bank and also earn banks hefty commissions at the same time…two birds with one stone!
For instance, 99% of the mutual funds sold by the SBI were diverted to SBI mutual funds scheme. 55% of the overall commission given by the SBI to its mutual funds distributors was back in the account of SBI…in other words: “ghar ka paisa ghar mein!”
Mis-selling of products
A bigger danger is posed to those who are not that financially savvy, especially the senior citizens, who have accumulated a corpus of wealth, having worked hard throughout their lives, but they don’t know how or where to invest. They are sold “high-commission-based-market-linked” products, which make banking systems pleased and senior citizens poorer by the end.
For example: why do banks sell a 10-year non liquid policy to a 70 year old!? Instead of FD, why sell a 7 year insurance policy with 5 year waiting period!?
No-one to check banks
The banks are relieved because the banking ombudsman that oversees them has neither the manpower nor a lot of rights. But even then, complaints related to mis-selling have doubled in the period between 2017-18 and 2018-19.
The problem lies with us also, as we depend upon our banks, a little too much! From their perspective, we are only customers, and their job is to earn profits off of us. If we trust them too much, we may end up, like the distressed PMC bank depositor.
Solution to bank heist
You and I, as customers, must awaken! We must read bank statements, boring as they may be, we must read all the terms and conditions thoroughly. Credit card bills must be kept in check. Offers must be thought upon twice, before accepting. If anything suspicious, send an immediate email, by which you can keep a record of your exchanges with the bank. Seek relatives or mentors who have deep knowledge of and experience with financial instruments.
Banks seek your notes just as much as politicians seek your votes! Educate yourself well before dealing with them and question them both!