Big banks risk losing as much as $185 billion in the next 12 months as account holders say no to being nickeled and dimed, according to a new report by boutique management consulting group cg42. Bank of America, Chase, Citibank, Wells Fargo could make up nearly three-quarters of that loss, the survey said.

For consumers looking to hit banks back, the sobering news is that $185 billion represents about 9% of total retail bank deposits. Together the top 10 largest banks hold more than $2 trillion.

The survey looked at the brand vulnerability at the top 10 retail banks in the United States, surveying 5,600 customers in June 2011. Their number one frustration: Fees. They are fed up.

Too bad fees are what the banks -- similar to the airlines -- are specializing in these days. Even as banks have dropped debit-card fees, dollar by dollar they are adding it up elsewhere to keep the much-needed revenue coming. There are fees to get a replacement card, or get cash wired to your account, or make a mobile deposit, or get an extra paper statement.

In fact, banks must recoup at least $15 to $20 monthly per depositor in order to earn what they did in the past, according to recent story in the New York Times. Meanwhile, it costs banks between $200 to $300 per customer to cover everything from staffing branches to covering insurance premiums, the story also reported.

But that is not the only gripe. In the survey, other customer frustrations included not being offered competitive rates, being hit with overdraft changes and that banks were making promises they don't keep.

"These frustrations are driving vulnerability," said Stephen Beck, the founder of cg42.

While anger about fees united how people felt about all the institutions, each bank had unique challenges, he added.

For example, Wells Fargo customers complained that the bank tried to sell them on products they didn't want or need, while nearly 50% of Bank of America customers reported that they preferred to minimize human contact and use more technology over in-person transactions. CapitalOne customers reported being frustrated with basic customer service issues. PNC and SunTrust were the least vulnerable to losing customers according to the survey.

Where that that $185 billion goes is still the big question. Already nearly $5 billion in new deposits has appeared in credit union coffers in the last six weeks.

Catherine New can be reached at

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Credit cards ! Thank God I was young (19 trs. old) when I realized that credit cards were designed to withdraw money from MY pocket and deposit it into the BANK'S pocket ! Here's what I "discovered" ! When I'd buy something on credit I'd get my monthly bill and I had the option, of course, to pay only a minimum payment BUT the balance would be tagged with OUTRAGEOUS interest fees if I paid off my debt THAT way - monthly ! Before I knew it I was paying off an increasing balance that was way beyond the amount I had originally intended to spend. Therefore, I decided from that moment on to have only ONE card - a gasoline card ! I would use that card ONLY for unavoidable repairs or tune ups for my car that I couldn't afford in cash at that particular time. NEVER would I use it to fill up my gas tank because THAT would mount up BIG time ! When I got my monthly bill I would pay as much as I could afford to reduce that balance on expenses - (remember - repairs or tune ups ONLY). Bottom line: Don't ever believe that you NEED a credit card. I mean, if you don't have the money in your pocket when you want to make a purchase then you probably need to wait until you DO ! Makes cents. . . eh ? I mean makes SENSE doesen't it ?

December 11 2011 at 7:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

In my 63 years I have only had one bank account briefly. I have always used a credit union. I get more interest on my money, I have not paid a fee in years. The credit union is insured just like the FDIC. LEAVE THE BANKS AND JOIN A CREDIT UNION.

December 06 2011 at 12:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Just curious, why hasn't any one considered extending existing mortgages to fixed 40 years. It would lower payments for those struggling to keep up with monthly payments and ,most certainly, decrease the number of stressed real estate entities.
On average the life of a mortgage is shortened by the borrower's decision to adjust to changes in his life. there by returning the borrowed money to the lender and , in a sense, completing the economic cycle of life.

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November 21 2011 at 10:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

With the artificial ly low interest rates created by Fed actions banks are making big money by paying savers low rates of interest on their savings. Those seniors who planned for their retirement by putting some money aways have watched their returns drop from 5-6 % a few years ago to nearly nothing and they have dipped into their principal and for many it has been depleted. In Texas there are hundreds of thousands of senior citizens who have enrolled for welfare stamps, etc. for the first time in their lives. For many who tried their hand at the stock market this too has been a losing battle for some. People should withdraw their money from banks in protest of the low rates of returns. A local bank pays .40% on a one year $25,000 CD and lends the money out at 4% for car loans. Perhaps a national day of bank withdrawals might wake the banks up to the power of the consumer.

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