Customers of Norway’s largest and highly profitable bank, DNB, have long complained about branch closings, poor service and high fees. Now those fees are going up again, just as employees are complaining that they’re losing some of the advantages they’ve had as mortgage customers.
Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported this week about how DNB hasn’t only raised its interest rates lately. The bank, which recently reported more record profits, is also raising the monthly electronic fee charged for posting loan payments, making total loan payments effectively higher than the central bank’s interest rate hikes.
Then DN reported how employees are protesting cuts in their own mortage benefits. They’ve been receiving a 20 percent discount on loan terms but now that’s being reduced to a maximum of 0.7 percentage points below DNB’s best customer rate, and only on loans up to NOK 6 million. Loan amounts over that won’t qualify for discounts.
Reaction was swift, with employees calling the cuts “petty, extremely disappointing” and noting that they’re coming at a time when DNB is delivering strong results and executives are receiving million-kroner bonuses. One employee complained on the bank’s intranet that even after 42 years of service and witnessing a gradual reduction of employee benefits, “I’ve never seen an uproar like this.”
DNB’s CEO Kjerstin Braathen seems taken aback by all the criticism from employees and said she understands the cuts are “unpopular.” She also apologized for the timing of the cuts and admitted “there was a lot we could have done differently.”
She’s not reversing the cuts though, even though rival banks are not reducing their employees’ benefits. Nordea is, however, also raising its fees charged customers for the pleasure of making payments.