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Bank of America delays fees set to take effect at year’s end

Bank of America will delay contentious new fees that would have taken effect at the end of the year, potentially holding off on imposing the fees until late 2013.

The bank, America’s second largest by assets, came under fierce criticism after it announced that it would begin charging a $5 monthly debit fee to customers who did not maintain a minimum balance or use certain services. Bank of America decided against the fee earlier this year after public outcry, including protests and a petition signed by more than 300,000 people, ABC News reports.

Bank of America intends to encourage approximately 10 million customers who maintain low account balances and forego other services to set up direct deposit or utilize the other services offered by the bank.

Several other banks, including Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Key Bank, PNC Financial and U.S. Bank, also announced that they had no plans to charge consumers debit fees, according to ABC News.

Anthony Polini, an analyst at investment firm Raymond James, said that Bank of America faces an ongoing struggle with consumer product pricing due to a “challenging regulatory and political climate.”

“However, we expect the company to primarily focus on customer service and account retention, with product pricing taking a back seat,” Polini said, adding that he does not expect “any adverse consumer reaction,” ABC News reports.

Molly Katchpole, who is responsible for starting the petition requesting that the bank cancel plans to charge debit fees, said that she is not surprised by the bank’s other plans to charge its customers.

“It’s disappointing,” Katchpole said, according to ABC News. “But I guess that’s what you get with a huge bank that doesn’t seem to care about its customer base.”

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