Renee is a respected teacher and head of Maori Studies at Epsom Girls Grammar – one of Auckland’s most prestigious schools. Yet she and husband Mike “surprisingly” raked up nearly $2,500 in penalty fees in just over a year.

 “Do I think it’s fair? Absolutely not,” Renee says. “I had no idea $2500 had been taken out of my account until I looked back at the statements. That’s a lot of money. Banks make money off interest from mortgages and should not be making billions from such a small thing as Kiwis not having enough money in one account to pay your automatic payments. It’s a strategic business move but it doesn’t necessarily need to happen

“I don’t know how banks’ process their accounts. Are they controlled by someone sitting at a desk behind the bank or is it computerised? If it is then why are they charging so much? I understand that businesses need to make money. But to charge $2500 for that service? Ridiculous.”

Asked if she ever approached the banks about the fees Renee says she didn’t think it was something she could speak to them about. “I figured that’s what all banks did and that’s how the cookie crumbles.”

Because the banks took the fees without prior notification, Renee felt there had been a breach of trust. “This is my hard earned money – they are charging exorbitant fees and taking them directly out of my account regardless of my financial situation, and without my consent.”

“You know as an individual that you need to manage your own money correctly. But when you know how much you are being charged a year, you realise how much you are being ripped off really.”

Renee says anyone thinking of joining the Fair Play on Fees campaign should. “If you want to change the banks’ ways and have you say then this is the perfect place to get your voice heard. There is nothing onerous about the process at all. The whole process has been very smooth.”

Westpac, BNZ and ASB customers must register at by 11pm on Thursday 27 February 2014 to confirm their inclusion in the case.  

REGISTER NOW - New Zealanders can join the action against unfair bank fees by registering at



Published: Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Go to the Mobile Site