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Bank Fees Chase Customers Away

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (UPI) — A growing number of U.S. consumers pulled up stakes at their banks and switched to different financial institutions last year, a research firm said.

A study by J.D. Powers & Associates of Thousand Oaks, Calif., found that 9.6 percent of bank customers switched banks in 2011, up from 8.7 percent in 2010 and 7.7 percent in 2009.

One-third of the time, the culprit pushing bank customers out the door was high bank fees, the firm said.

The Los Angeles Times reported Monday that new fees have sprung up like mushrooms after a rain, as banks try to make up for revenue that has been regulated out of existence, such as certain overdraft fees and restrictions on what banks can charge for customers who use their credit cards.

As banks add checking account fees and other revenue gimmicks, however, some customers have revolted.

“It is apparent that new or increased fees are the proverbial straws that break the camel’s back. More than one-half of all customers who said fees were the main reason to shop for another bank also indicated that their prior bank provided poor service,” said Michael Beird, director of banking services practice at J.D. Powers.

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