Why Charging for Mailing Paper Bank Statements May Cost the Banks the Big Bucks

CIBC recently introduced a fee for receiving paper bank statements. A close relative had a US Dollar account with CIBC that used to issue quarterly paper statements. There is no passbook option for this account. This US Dollar account pays a low rate of interest. And that’s partly why it is now going to cost CIBC a lot more money to do the same business than it cost to print and mail one statement every 3 months.

My relative phoned CIBC to discuss this new fee of $2/statement. She does not have a computer or a cell phone, nor does she

intend to get either. In the past, she reviewed her quarterly statement to make sure the transactions were correct. She also made a note of the interest paid each month for when she filed her tax returns.

How Can One Be Held Responsible for Transactions that May have Been Booked in Error by CIBC?

When this customer phoned CIBC to cancel paper statements because of the new fee, the customer was told she was responsible for ensuring she reported any errors in the account transactions within 30 days of the end of the month. She would be deemed to have received the e-statement at the end of each month.

“Customers must review their account transactions through CIBC Online or Mobile Banking, CIBC Telephone Banking or CIBC bank machines at least once every 30 days and examine all entries and balances at that time. If there are any errors, omissions or irregularities, customers must notify CIBC in writing within 60 days after the date on which the entry was, or should have been, posted to the account.” https://www.cibc.com/ca/chequing-savings/us-personal-acct.html

How, she asked, would she know what transactions had been booked if she couldn’t see the statement? There is no passbook option for the account. CIBC could erroneously book a transaction against the account.

The support person said she could telephone CIBC to check the account balance. (She could also perhaps check the actual transaction history by telephone, that was not clear.)
The customer said “So you mean I’m going to have to now telephone every month to check on my account instead of reading a paper bill once every three months. How is this improving my service?”

The support person had no direct answer. Instead, the support person pointed out that both Rogers and Telus are already using e-statements.

The customer said that comparison has no value. Those are cell phone companies not banks. And the customer does not have a cell phone.

How Can One Check One’s Taxable Earnings without a Statement from CIBC?

Next, the customer explained she had been using the statements to report her interest earnings for income tax. The customer support person said a T5 would be issued for interest over $50. The customer countered that while that is true, the interest on this account would never be high enough to result in a T5.

The customer support person then ALMOST said but you don’t have to report the interest on your taxes. She didn’t quite say it, though it was implied.

The customer explained she always reports all of her interest income and has no intention of breaking the law now. The customer support person then agreed that she could check her interest earnings by telephone each month.

The Cost of One Quarterly Mailed Statement from CIBC vs 12 Telephone Calls to Their 1-888 Number

As a result of this change to a fee for paper statements, this customer has cancelled her paper statements. Instead, she is planning to telephone each month to check her balance, in case there are any unexpected transactions, and to determine the interest paid on the account.

So CIBC is going to have to pay a customer service representative to answer a phone call each month to check the account balance and the transaction history.

I wonder whether the $1 they save on mailing a paper statement will be enough to pay for the time their CSR will be wasting? Not to mention the increased customer dissatisfaction when other banking customers can’t get through to a CSR because the phone line is clogged up with calls checking on transaction balances.

Ridiculous Fees and Ridiculous Demands May Cost CIBC Customers and Free Money

My relative also warned the CIBC customer support person that she may just close the account altogether.

Since CIBC was paying a very low interest rate on the money in that type of account, CIBC will effectively be robbing themselves of using that money for free. Multiply that effect by a few thousand customers and that could be significantly more than the cost of mailing out a few statements.

In conclusion, I think CIBC didn’t really look at all the costs and benefits of these paper statements. Cancelling the paper statements could result in increased call centre volume, increased call centre hold times, losing customers and accounts, and losing access to money at well below overnight posted borrowing rates. It will all depend on how much customers are willing to push back at the banks that are charging their customers money to hold their own money. (Some of us are old enough to remember when banks paid you money to hold your money. And sometimes even gave out toasters with new accounts!)

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8 thoughts on “Why Charging for Mailing Paper Bank Statements May Cost the Banks the Big Bucks

  1. Hi there,

    We’ve been CIBC customers for 9 years, and this last $2 fee plus an increase of $1 for the unlimited checking account has done it for us. When I saw that the monthly charge had gone up by $3 this month I called them up, they explained as to your relative the $2 paper statements, I cancelled them, then I was warned about having the obligation to check the online statements and contact them within 60 days otherwise it was essentially my problem if there was an error. Then the fact the they are increasing the monthly charge by $1 for services I would not use was irrelevant, it was mandatory and would not back down. In all this I told them that no warning had been given, they claimed they sent flyers, I told them I always check the mail, nothing to the effect of fees raising came to my home. No solution was offered. Since in spite of continuos profit records they have, more fees for using our money, so we’re currently shopping around and intend to say bye to them as soon as everything is transferred. Those $3 have cost them a client.

    • I understand exactly how you feel. We’ve recently opened chequing accounts with PC Financial (free cheques although they are a very plain design) and ING Direct (only the first 50 cheques are free). Neither of them sends paper statements, though, which means they wouldn’t suit my relative. Both of them have no fees for basic chequing functions like deposits, using a debit card, writing a cheque. PC Financial is the easiest to use if you like to withdraw money from a bank machine, as you can make free withdrawals from any CIBC machine. For ING Direct you have to check their website for the nearest free ABM–usually it’s one at a Credit Union.

      I do think this endless charging of a fee here and a fee there is going to lose the banks many customers.

    • Silly but they know they still have lots of clients. Seems like they tell you every way to stop fees but then they increase the fees you cannot get away from. When they had people on the payroll (tellers), fees were reasonable. Get rid of the personal touch (tellers) and charge you $20 a month to use a machine (debit or ATM). At least using tellers were free.

      • I remember when BMO first introduced ABMs they started charging to pay bills at the Teller but letting you pay them for free at the ABM. That was an approach that worked, at least for a while. Of course I’m old enough to remember paying bills with a cheque sent through the mail.

  2. Been with CIBC since 1980. All my loyalty appears to have done is cost me more money while they give me less and less perks. Recently, we wanted financing for a new home. I went to Scotiabank and received 0.5 percent better than CIBC’s BEST rate to me. Even after telling them, they would not come down. Shows me how loyal they are to me. Scotiabank is getting my loan business from now on.

  3. Something else to get on your nerves. If you go to the ATM at CIBC (not another brand ATM) and check your cheque account balance, your saving balance, your credit card balance, transfer cash, and withdraw cash, you will be charged for 5 transactions.
    It may be the same for other banks too but I do not know.
    I guess that makes the ATM computer hungry with all the energy it uses.

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