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RBC – Notice of Service Fee and Account Changes aka We’re Going to Screw You, and No, You’re Not Going to Get Kissed First

Published April 29, 2011 - 2 Comments

I just picked up my mail.  Oh look, an envelope from Royal Bank of Canada.  Perhaps they’ve discovered several thousand dollars that should have been paid to me over the years, and are attempting to make amends.  Let’s open it and find out!

“At RBC, we are committed to providing you with a wide range of products and services that offer you flexibility, convenience, value and choice.  That way, you can receive the best features and benefits to meet your needs.

Effective June 1, 2011, we are making changes to our service fees and accounts.  While in some cases we are increasing prices, in other instances we have been able to reduce them.  For a complete listing of service fee and account changes that may affect you, please see the enclosed brochure.”

I put my favourite part of that letter in italics, so it’s worth repeating… While in some cases we are increasing prices, in other instances we have been able to reduce them. Really?  You’ve been “able” to reduce them?  No kidding!  That’s mighty accommodating of you! I know that *I* certainly appreciate you digging into your own pocket to help me (the little guy) out.  Thank you!

But wait a second…  I’m looking at the brochure that you sent me, and I’m noticing something a little odd… you claim that While in some cases we are increasing prices, in other instances we have been able to reduce them.  I certainly see where you’ve increased them, but I’m having a hard time locating the ones that you’ve decreased.  Oh there’s one!  Email transfers were $1.50 and are now $1.00.  That’s nice.  I use these on a semi-regular basis, so I appreciate saving that $0.50.  But where are the other fees that are being decreased?  Do you seriously expect me to believe that you “have been able to decrease them” yet there is only a single banking fee that has gone down!?  By a whopping $0.50?  Whereas every other fee in your brochure is increasing, some of them by a substantial amount?

You are the Royal Bank of Canada, not some backroom loan shark!  You are the largest bank in Canada, with $726.2 billion in assetsYour net income for last year was $5.2 billion!  That’s pure profit.  $5.2 billion! You’re Q1 results for this year were a record $1.84 billion!  In just three months, you recorded $1.84 billion!  That’s not revenue.  That’s profit!  And somehow with all this fantastic growth, you have the nerve to send me a letter telling me that I will be paying more for nearly every service you offer me, with the exception of one, all the while trying to make it sound like you’re doing me a gigantic favour by being “able” to reduce that single service fee.  And let’s be honest for a moment, shall we?  The only reason that the interact email transfer fee is being lowered is because it was too high to begin with.  Emailing money to someone is incredibly convenient, but people felt that $1.50 was a little too steep for that “privilege”.  By lowering the fee, the expectation is that more people will take advantage of the service, more often, driving revenue upward.  And you’re absolutely right.  I have no doubt that this will be reflected in the end of year results.

I don’t even know where to go from here…

I give up!

Hidden Danger at Mint.com?

Published April 24, 2011 - 6 Comments

I wrote a post a while ago about a new (in Canada) service called Mint.com, which took all your financial information from different sources and combined it into one easy to view site.  It’s been extremely helpful for me to be able to view all my different accounts, and track my spending across different areas.  Mint.com automatically begins to create a budget for me based on my spending habits, and alerts me when I have gone beyond my normal spending.  It shows me my net worth, and has actually become a bit of a game for me, as I check it frequently to see how close I am to breaking even.  (Currently around $ -3000, but I include the mortgage for the house that I don’t live in, so as soon as my name is off that house, my net worth will skyrocket).

I’m a huge fan of Mint.com, so it was quite a surprise to see an article titled Hidden Danger at Mint.com in my latest copy of Money Sense magazine.  They warn that “by disclosing your passwords to such sites, you might be nullifying an important agreement with your bank that covers you in case of fraud.  Ouch.  To be honest, that never occurred to me.  I suppose that it makes sense on some level.  Of course Mint.com takes a different approach, reminding users that they use bank-quality security measures.  And really, are the banks really taking as good care of your information as they could?  Too many stories of lost laptops, or pages and pages of customer data being faxed to the wrong person.  I think I’ll take my chances with Mint.com.

I did think that the end quote from a Toronto lawyer was interesting: “If there is fraud on your account, even if it’s not related to Mint or another aggregator site, there is still a potential that the bank will deny you fraud protection.”  Can’t say that I agree with that, but I’ve never felt that the banks have had my best interests in mind.  They seem to be doing quite well, though.  RBC (my bank) posted record profits again in Q1 of this year.  It’s nice to know that the pain I feel every time I see my service charge fees is going to a good cause.

Back to the issue of Mint.com and what it means for me, I’m disappointed that the banks would take this approach with the company, but it will not change my use of the service.  For me, the positives outweigh the potential negatives, but when I read the article, I felt that I should make note of it here, because of my previous post championing the service.  I’ll let you decide whether the bank’s bullying is enough to change your mind.