Fair Play on Fees files suits against Westpac, BNZ

RICHARD MEADOWS
Last updated 15:54 20/08/2014

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Fair Play on Fees has filed lawsuits against Westpac and the Bank of New Zealand at the High Court at Auckland this afternoon.

The campaign group is seeking to recoup millions of dollars of allegedly unfair fees banks have charged for the likes of late credit card payments and unarranged overdrafts.

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It has now taken action against ANZ, BNZ, Kiwibank and Westpac, with ASB still in the firing line but delayed due to "logistics" issues.

The banks have vowed to vigorously defend themselves against the claims.

The latest suits have been filed on behalf of more than 8000 Westpac customers and almost 5500 BNZ customers.

BNZ said it was aware that court documents were to be filed, but had not yet been served with proceedings.

Acting director retail David Bullock said the details would be reviewed when they were served.

"All our fees are fully disclosed," he said. "We listen to our customers and work hard to help them avoid fees where we can and the particular fees being singled out in this case are all avoidable."

Westpac spokeswoman Haley Ritchie said the bank would "review the proceedings when we receive them" and continued to encourage customers with concerns to make contact directly.

No court dates have been set, as Fair Play on Fees awaits the outcome of similar legal action underway in Australia.

In a test case against ANZ, the Australian Federal Court has ruled that late-payment credit-card fees charged were "extravagant, exorbitant and unconscionable".

However, it has thrown out claims relating to other fees, with both sides appealing the decision.

The argument hinges on whether various penalty fees charged to customers are a reasonable reflection of the banks' actual costs.

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