Many people throughout the United States are incensed by the intention of banks such as Wells Fargo and Bank of America to charge their customers a monthly fee for using their debit card to make purchases. The new fees are slated to go into effect in early 2012. Although it possible for customers who wish to avoid the fee to do so by restructuring their account, many can’t maintain the monthly balance minimum or other requirements. According to the floridaindependent.com, large retail banks in the U.S. have lately been seeing some of the highest profits since the recession began back in 2007.
Florida Rep. Jeff Clemens (D-Lake Worth) has shown his support for consumer frustration by filing House Bill 374, legislation that will attempt to ban big banks from being able to implement such debit cards usage fees.
“The banks sold us all on the idea of a cashless society, and now that we’ve bought into their promise of free, easy access to our own money, they want to charge us for it,” Clemens said in a press release. “Anyone with a sense of decency should be outraged.”
That same press release went on to say:
Representative Clemens sponsored the legislation in response to the outrage that many Floridians have expressed over a banking industry that was bailed out by taxpayers, continues to rake in huge profits and now wants to charge consumers for a service the banks have touted as free for years.
“Seeking to please shareholders and continue to pay exorbitant salaries, extremely profitable banks have taken to blaming federal legislation that limits the amount they can charge for so-called `swipe fees’ to retailers,” said Representative Clemens. “But no one is buying the weak explanation.”
Representative Clemens specifically referred to a 2009 Supreme Court case as the precedent for federal banks adhering to state law. However, as reported by The Miami Herald, it’s unclear whether or not that case, Cuomo vs. Clearing House Association, will guarantee that Clemens’ proposed law can be enforced.
Florida Bankers Association lobbyist Anthony DiMarco told the Herald that, “the state cannot impose the law because of the country’s longstanding dual banking system” and that “state banks comply with state law and a few national regulations, he said, and national banks answer mostly to federal regulators like the FDIC… [which means] big banks are allowed to charge fees under federal law.”
Many consumers would heartily agree with Representative Clemens’ statement with regard to big banks: “The greed of these institutions knows no bounds. As soon as you try to end one deceptive or immoral practice, they come up with two more.”