Kiwibank becomes latest Fair Play of Fees target

State-owned Kiwibank is the latest New Zealand bank to be sued by class-action group the Fair Play on Fees, over overcharging and unfair penalty fees.

Spearheaded by Auckland lawyer Andrew Hooker, the campaign was created to combat unfair bank fees.

Launched by Hooker, large Australian lawfirm Slater & Gordon, and New Zealand’s Litigation Lending Services, the campaign plans to sue all the major trading banks for charging unnecessary penalties on their accounts, which it states do not fairly represent the costs sustained by the bank.

Over 35,000 clients of some of New Zealand’s major banks – including ASB, ANZ, BNZ, Kiwibank, and Westpac – have registered for the cause.

Public perception

Hooker said compared to consumer numbers, Kiwibank has a disproportionately high proportion of unsatisfied parties who had registered to join the campaign.

Part of the problem has been the public’s perception of the brand.

Many choose to change to Kiwibank due to the perception it was different from other, Australian-owned banks.

Yet instead, Kiwibank is said to be “mimicking” its competitors, changing disproportionately high fees Hooker claims are unwarranted.

Auckland couple Leanne and Sydney Briggs are the case’s lead plaintiffs.

The Briggses, who has banked with Kiwibank for over six years, were charged nearly NZD 2,000 in default fees.

Leanne Briggs expressed her gratitude towards the case, noting she could not have taken Kiwibank by herself.

Briggs was charged NZD 105 in dishonour payments and account fees in September 2008, and subsequently left the bank.

A spokesman for Kiwibank said it had no comment to make on the case.

ANZ trail

High Court proceedings against ANZ have already started – with the next hearing expected to take place on November 28th – and the National Bank, which the former acquired in 2003.

A trial date is expected to be set in the first quarter of 2014.

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