13 Nov 2013

Legal action on fees takes in Kiwibank customers

4:41 pm on 13 November 2013

Kiwibank is to be the next target of a group taking a class action against bank fees.

The group, Fair Play on Fees, argues that exorbitant charges have been levied for unauthorised overdrafts, honour and dishonour fees, and late and over-limit fees for credit cards.

Lawyer Andrew Hooker, centre, with Kiwibank customers Gary Watson and Leanne Briggs.

Lawyer Andrew Hooker, centre, with Kiwibank customers Gary Watson and Leanne Briggs. Photo: SUPPLIED

Its lawyer Andrew Hooker says 6000 Kiwibank customers have signed up to fight the case, along with almost 15,000 customers from Australian-owned ANZ and National banks.

Mr Hooker said on Wednesday that Kiwibank customers are particularly disappointed by the fees.

"My clients who have contacted me - 6000 of them who have registered - a large amount of them are very, very sad that this bank that was established to take on the Australian banks seem to be mimicking what the Australian banks are doing."

Auckland mother Leanne Briggs has joined the action, saying she opened a Kiwibank account because she thought it was the people's bank.

However, Ms Briggs says she was charged more than $1600 over seven years in fees, including a $10 fee when a mortgage payment put her two cents into overdraft. She says the problem would snowball, as the fees that were charged would put her further into overdraft.

The class action against ANZ and National banks is the first that Fair Play on Fees is pursuing.

Andrew Hooker says the fees that banks charge are out of proportion to the cost of administering them electronically. The group estimates banks have charged about $1 billion in fees over the last six years.

The litigation already has the most plaintiffs of any class action in New Zealand's history.