Last week, an audio recording of a customer confronting a bank teller regarding a RM2 fee charged in an over-the-counter transaction went viral
In the three-minute audio clip, the male customer asked the customer service staff member about the unfamiliar RM2 fee he paid when he made a loan repayment over the counter at a bank branch recently.
The audio clip was shared over 1,000 times at the time of writing, with 99% of the audience voting against the fee.
The bank staff told him that the charge is a new fee for over-the-counter transactions, while RM0.50 will be charged for transactions made through cash deposit machines (CDMs) too
He called the fees "grossly unfair".
"We are already paying so much interest on loans and you further charge us RM2 for using your services," the customer reasoned with the customer service staff member over the call.
He also expressed that the bank's online service is often down, which is another reason not to take such a fee from customers.
In the comment section, many netizens vented that they were charged by other banks too.
"I was paying my car loan and I was charged RM0.50. I wasn't charged before this," one netizen complained.
Another added, "So it means the total loan amount will increase by RM2 every time lah. Is this even in the contract?"
According to The Star, more banks will follow the move to charge customers for not using e-services when making loan or credit card repayments
Affin Bank, CIMB Bank, Public Bank, and Standard Chartered have started charging their customers these fees, the English daily reported.
Meanwhile, AmBank and Maybank have notified their customers about the fees, which come into effect on Tuesday, 1 October. However, the latter is said to have taken down the announcement on its website.
Despite the uproar, the Association of Banks in Malaysia (ABM) defended the fees, saying that it is to encourage customers to adopt online payments
"In order to encourage customers to move from cash to e-payments, some of our member banks currently impose fees for cheque and cash payments for credit card and financing payments performed over the counter (via teller at a bank branch) and via CDMs," the bank group said in a statement, as quoted by Free Malaysia Today.
"These fees may be debited from your credit card and/or financing account."
Additionally, ABM said that the new fees will not be imposed on customers aged above 65 years and the disabled.
Political leaders have since urged Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) to cancel the fees which are deemed to be a burden to the low-income groups
Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) deputy chairperson S Arutchelvan claimed that many Malaysians are unaware of the extra fees, reported Malaysiakini.
He urged BNM to intervene and stop the "greed of commercial banks", adding that the move could also put counter staff out of jobs.
Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) reached out to BNM in May this year following complaints of the fees, but its president Mohideen Abdul Kader said the central bank has not responded to them till this date.
Echoing Arutchelvan's view, Mohideen said, "BNM can start by cancelling the counter and cash deposit machine transaction charges. After that, they should also look at all the other unfair practices imposed by banks on their customers."