By Fahd Bin Jolaid
Saudi banks have been imposing various fees on customers for different services and we do not know the reason for imposing most of these fees. In most cases, bank clients will find it hard to know the justifications for these fees as they do not receive a clear explanation from the authorities.
The newly revised banking fees are imposed on customers through an automatic system and every one of us is forced to pay them and keep silent. These include an additional fee of SR10 or above for each cash withdrawal from the Gulf networks.
Banks will also deduct SR3 for checking the balance through ATMs in the Gulf countries. They will take another fee for reissuing an ATM card due to loss or damage. Banks are doing this without any legal authority and without informing customers about such fees.
The fee differs from one bank to another and it depends on the services being extended to clients and their contacts with bank officials. We do not know what will be the situation after the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority announced the new fees for various banking services.
I wish the banks had borne these fees by themselves as a service to customers in lieu of making use of their deposits. We do not have a clear figure of customers’ balance in Saudi banks but without doubt it will be a huge amount. Once the door of new fees is opened it will be difficult to close.
I cannot understand why I should pay a fee ranging from SR25 to SR50, depending on the duration, to get a statement of balance. For me it is my right to know the details of my transactions with the bank, including the amount I deposited and the amount I withdrew during a specific period of time. I consider the issuance of balance statements as the simplest form of customer service. We should also discuss the legitimacy of other fees imposed by the banks.
Some people compare the new fees with those imposed by international banks and say the fees taken by our banks are meager compared to foreign banks. Here I would like to point out that there is a big difference between Saudi banks and foreign banks: Saudi banks do not pay any interest on deposits and the balance of their customers, whatever be the amount.
Saudi banks undoubtedly benefit from the deposits of customers as it strengthens their liquidity and financial status. In lieu of these deposits customers receive only certain banking services and facilities and our banks do not pay any interest like foreign banks.
Moreover, international banks contribute to the implementation of development projects in their respective countries. Unfortunately, we do not see such participation in developmental activities on the part of our banks. We cannot find any major development project financed by Saudi banks apart from some corporate social responsibility initiatives.
In my opinion commercial banks should bear the cost of the new fees imposed on personal accounts and banking services and avoid drawing the ire of customers, instead of opening a new profit-making platform.