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ALMOST 40,000 bank customers have registered for the nation's biggest class action, with litigation funder IMF Australia expecting to sign up 250,000 to 500,000 claimants seeking reimbursement of "exorbitant" exception fees.
A day after IMF foreshadowed up to 12 class actions against several banks over $5bn of fees levied in six years, the number of registrations yesterday evening was 38,378.
A month later, the bank took the surprising step of announcing it would abolish monthly account fees on a number of transaction accounts, taking effect from January 22.
"So the situation we have here is that a person overdraws the account in breach of the contract with the bank and the bank's entitled to charge a genuine pre-estimate of the actual cost of that.
"Now that genuine pre-estimate would be, in some cases in relation to credit cards overdrawn, several cents. In relation to cheques, maybe $2.
"They've [banks] been charging $25 to $60.
NAB put a notice on its website explaining that an increased "exception fee" on business accounts in 2002 and 2003 was incorrectly charged to some customers at $50 instead of $30.
A spokesman for consumer group Choice, Christopher Zinn, says while NAB refunded customers' money after a technical glitch, it underlines the shaky ground that these penalty fees have been built on.
"The fact that people were charged - often they didn't know it - often they were charged for things that they shouldn't have been charged for, and this particular instance seems to have been going on for some years," he said.