VietNamNet Bridge – Many commercial banks are raising their fees, but the quality of their services has not kept pace.

Fees on the rise


Banking service fees have been increasing since the beginning of the year. Notably, there have been no official statements in the mass media, as only the service users have been informed about the increases. No banker has appeared in newspapers to talk about the decision to increase fees, in direct contrast to what they would do if they instead raised the interest rates on deposits.

Earlier this year, clients of Vietcombank were given a start when they were notified about fee increases for money remittance via Internet banking services. Since January 15, Vietcombank has been charging VND3,300 for every intra-network remittance transaction (the service was free in the past).

The bank’s decision immediately raised the anger among the public. Many clients took to Facebook to threaten to stop using Vietcombank’s services, while sharing the list of the banks offering the same services free of charge.

Only a few clients said they would continue to use Vietcombank’s services, not because they were loyal clients of the bank, but because they thought it was only a matter of time before other banks followed suit and also raised their fees.

Since Vietcombank is a big bank with a huge number of clients, every decision it makes can have a big impact on the market, which accounts for why the bank’s decision is being so widely discussed. Meanwhile, similar decisions by other banks have not attracted as much attention.

Prior to Vietcombank’s announcement, similar fee increases had been announced by Nam A Bank and Tien Phong Bank.

The former raised its annual Internet banking service fee for individual clients from VND20,000 to VND22,000 for its standard service package. Meanwhile, Tien Phong Bank now charges VND5,000 every time a client requests an account balance via SMS.

Techcombank, a major joint stock bank, has announced new fee levels to be applied to online money remittance transactions. For remittances of up to VND50 million, it charges VND5,000 to recipients in other cities or provinces.

The bank has also raised fees for many other services, though there has been no formal announcement of these changes on its website.

TV, a client in the Hai Ba Trung district of Hanoi, said she was astonished when told she had to pay VND22,000 for a payment order transaction in mid-March, a sudden 100% jump in the VND 11,000 fee she had grown accustomed to.

Service quality on the decrease

A number of clients complain that while banks are always attempting to raise their service fees, no effort is made to upgrade the quality of those services.

ATM service quality, for one, has seen no improvement since banks unanimously raised fees for cash withdrawals. The machines are notorious for their bouts of “paralysis”, generally occurring when they are not supplied with enough bank notes to meet the demands of their users.

DAV, a banking client, said he ran into problems in March of last year after buying a VND299,000 item at Parkson shopping mall, making payment with a BIDV card on a Vietcombank point of sale (POS) system.

DAV said that his account was erroneously charged double for the item -- VND598,000 versus VND299,000. Although the issue was ultimately resolved in his favor, it took a lot of running back and forth on his part between BIDV and Vietcombank.

“The money I had to spend to have the case settled was even higher than the amount I got back,” he complained.