Commissions of the big banks continued to increase in 2021 and charging for services that previously had a zero cost is an increasingly widespread practice in our country. Jointly, Santander, Caixabank, BBVA, Sabadell and Bankinter entered a total of 21,043 million euros by paying charges in 2021, almost 6.5% more than in 2020. As concluded in an Adicae report, these figures far exceed 22,000 million euros if the results of three other entities are added: Unicaja, Kutxabank and Ibercaja.
The importance of surcharges as a source of income for entities is increasing. The Adicae report indicates that it maintains that almost one of every three euros that the bank enters corresponds to commissions, equivalent to 470 euros per year per person in Spain. The analysis also shows that commissions thus account for between 25 and 30% of total income from the banking business and they exceed the total profits for 2021 in the sector, a figure set at 19,666 million euros if the five large entities operating in Spain are added.
As criticized by the association, which has collected this data from the 2021 income statements of the main banks in Spain, the commitment to “self-managed” online channels for customer relations has not been accompanied by a reduction in costs that, in the form of commissions, are applied to consumers; but, on the contrary, the extra charges have continued to increase.
"It is unacceptable that the main source of income for banking is the price of services that in many cases should be considered basic for all citizens," says the president of Adicae, Manuel Pardos. “Banking entities have turned commissions in a fundamental leg of your businesssystematically increasing them to manage to clean up their balances at the expense of users », they add from the association of banking users.
Given this scenario, Adicae describes as essential to address the way of establish "fair rules of the game" in the matter» to avoid the transfer of costs to consumers, which, «far from responding to increases in the quality or scope of the services provided, are only based on the search for higher income at all costs to improve balances» , sentence the same sources.
The OCU consumer association also lamented on Thursday the implementation of window commissions by some banks. For the OCU, these surcharges respond to "a policy of saving resources at the expense of user accessibility." Specifically, from January 2021 BBVA applies to its customers the payment of two euros for cash withdrawals at the teller window when it comes to amounts less than 2,000 euros; while Caixabank already limits the number of free operations that can be carried out per month over the counter to four.
It's more, OCU denounces that it is a double commission, since another one is already charged for the cash service, a practice already remunerated through the account maintenance commission. As an argument, cites a judgment of the Mercantile Court No. 1 of Vitoria, where it is considered that said charge is null and void due to "abusive" since it goes against the requirements of good faith and causes, to the detriment of the consumer, a significant imbalance of the rights and obligations of the parties to the contract and limits the rights of the most vulnerable consumers.
OCU encourages those affected to complain to the entity's customer service, with even more reason when it comes to people from vulnerable groups, such as many older people and people with visual, mobility or cognitive difficulties with serious problems of accessibility to digital media, such as an ATM.
For its part, FACUA-Consumers in Action denounced this Thursday that the Bank of Spain refuses to fine CaixaBank for "violating" the legislation on basic payment accounts. Facua's spokespersons they also reproached that the Ministry of Consumption "has disregarded the matter» by not responding to a complaint filed by the association fifteen months ago.
«The Bank of Spain has issued a resolution in which it ensures that the regulations that regulate these accounts do not oblige banks to facilitate the withdrawal of money at the window, despite the fact that both the European directive and the royal decree-law of its transposition they establish this duty clearly and unequivocally”, they insist from Facua.
From Facua they point out that after the complaint filed in November 2020 against CaixaBank for not allowing users with basic payment accounts to withdraw cash in 600 of its branches -the so-called Store-, the Executive Commission of the Bank of Spain has agreed to resolve that this practice is not illegal. According to the association, in the response sent by the central entity it is indicated that the users of these accounts can withdraw money "through the branch or the ATM, without in any case the rule requiring that the provision of this service be guaranteed basic and unlimited by both channels cumulatively, as the complainant erroneously interprets.