November 29, 2011 14:12 ET

Banks Still Feeling Pain Over Debit Card Fees

New TRiG Study Finds Consumers Credit Themselves for Standing Up to Financial Services Industry, but Damage Remains Even After Fee Reversal

FT. WASHINGTON, PA--(Marketwire - Nov 29, 2011) - During the past month, nearly all major banks considering charging a fee for using debit cards for purchases have abandoned that decision: is this consumer revolt a watershed moment for how Big Banks listen? The Research Intelligence Group (TRiG), a market research consulting firm, today released new data from its continued research on the Financial Services Industry. Its latest findings, a result of an online survey among 1,000 U.S. adults, offer new insights on how recent bank actions are affecting consumer perceptions.

This new study follows research released by TRiG on October 18, 2011 that found that nearly one-in-three consumers would leave their bank if it charged for debit card payments.

Consumers believe their collective voice delivered a strong message to institutions... "change your policies or feel our wrath"
More than three-in-four (76%) believe the most important reason banks abandoned the debit card fee centers over a fear of consumer consequences, most specifically a fear of customers leaving their bank (55%) and further negative impact to credibility (21%). Very few (7%) believe the primary reason for this change of heart had anything to do with increased value placed on customers.

Financial institutions are still mending their wounds
About two-in-five (42%) consumers expressed that, if their bank decided to offer a debit card fee and then reversed their decision, such an action would not improve the opinion of their bank.

  • 30% report the opinion of their institution would not change.
  • 12% indicate the impression they would have of their institution would continue to decline.

"While moving away from the debit card fee is a positive step, financial institutions need to continue to find ways to embrace customer needs and enhance communication to maintain and build positive consumer opinion and loyalty," says Bruce Shandler, CEO of TRiG. "This will be a critical component to enhancing their credibility and brand strength."

Public discussion of debit card fees may have raised consumer awareness of bank fees, in general
While previous research by TRiG indicates poor consumer awareness of checking account fees, nearly all consumers (91%) were aware some banks planned to introduce a fee for debit card purchases with the vast majority (79%) recognizing that banks have abandoned such a plan.

For more information on this survey and/or to receive a free copy of this report or to discuss another survey with The Research Intelligence Group, please contact Rob Kaplan-Sherman, President, Services Division, at (215) 643-8754 or

About TRiG
The Research Intelligence Group is a member of Leger Marketing, the largest independent Canadian-based marketing research company. Leger Marketing and TRiG have maintained their separate identities and independence, which is central to TRiG's core value of providing a specially-selected team of US-based research professionals who have a shared history of bringing their combined experience and knowledge to bear in every research engagement. TRiG's sister organization, Leger Marketing, was founded in 1986 and now has over 600 professionals. Leger provides with TRiG a strong legacy and proud history of world-class professional standards which have continuously earned the prestigious Gold Seal certification from the Marketing Research Industry Association. This legacy of outstanding achievement is foundational to TRiG's mission to provide unparalleled excellence in every aspect of our offering.

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