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Govt to force Spain Banks to reconsider charges

Source: El Pais - Sun 28th Aug 2011

The Ministry of Finance and economy wants to enforce banks to give clearer explanations to customers and cease imposing high charges, an aim it plans to achieve by means of a ministerial order scheduled for mid-September.

Some of the reasons behind the measure is the increase of annual bank commissions to as much as 34%; an accumulation of complaints from consumers hit by abusive charges with no prior warning; and, above all, the severe reprimanding it received from the European Commission over the costly operation of the Spanish banking system.

Last July, the EU identified Spain, along with Italy, as the countries that charged current and savings account holders the most and that least explained the small print related to the figures to consumers.

The draft of the ministerial order allows banks to impose the commissions they consider appropriate, but stresses that communications from banks to customers need to be made "with sufficient time so they can change their mind"; that explanations be clear and sufficient to be understood by clients of all cultural levels; and, especially, asks that commission charges not be "deceptive." To this end, it will require that all banks display a table showing their commissions in a clear place on their premises and on their websites.

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