Last week, the Viet Nam News asked readers for their opinions about a new rule that allows banks to charge fees for ATM withdrawals. Many respondents said they disagreed with the rule, complaining about ATM services in Viet Nam, while some said they would not mind as long as bank services were improved with the fees.
Beaches in Nha Trang, Phu Quoc, Da Nang, Hoi An and Quang Ninh have been listed as some of the world's top beaches by famous websites and magazines such as National Geographic, Forbes, CNNGo and concierge.com.
One of the major reasons for foreign tourists to visit Viet Nam is its crystal blue seas and picture-perfect heavenly beaches, untouched by construction projects.
However, many of these beaches are getting drastic facelifts. Entertainment centres, restaurants, resorts and public places are popping up by the day, and many resorts have cordoned off beaches for private use.
Subterranean projects for shopping and entertainment centres are also being considered.
What's your favourite beach in Viet Nam and why?
What do you like to do during a trip to the seaside? Do you like lying on remote, unspoiled natural beaches and exploring, or spending time in modern entertainment centres, casinos and shopping malls?
If local authorities plan to make changes or build more developments on or near beaches, do you have any suggestions? How about planning regulations in your country? Do you have any legal regulations or management mechanisms?
Please reply by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org, or by fax to (84-4) 3 933 2311. Letters can be sent to The Editor, Viet Nam News, 11 Tran Hung Dao Street, Ha Noi. Replies to next week's questions must be received by Thursday morning, January 24, 2013.
Le Phuong, Vietnamese, Ha Noi
I personally think that it's irrational to pay ATM fees for withdrawing money from your own bank. It's OK if other banks charge users. It must be noted that Vietnam is trying to become less dependent on cash transactions and this would certainly dissuade people from putting cash in the bank.
Unlike other countries, the people who will suffer mostly from this are workers and other low-income earners. Frankly speaking, who would see the high-income earners, or their bosses, come to regular ATMs and withdraw money?
In addition, who can guarantee that the services provided by our banks will be improved with the new fees? I have never ATM's of such low quality, getting overloaded during the holidays and causing unacceptable errors.
Generally speaking, the new fees would add pressure on most people, who already have to struggle with so many types of fees and price increases these days. Give us a break.
Tuan Cuong, Vietnamese, Ha Noi
In my opinion, i think the charging of fees are justified. First, the fees for those using ATMs and making transactions at other banks are insignificant. VND1000 is not a big thing.. It's the same price as a cup of water offered on the pavement or a tiny candy. I don't know why everyone is so tense.
Secondly, the charge will make banks maintain ATM operations and improve customer services. With the collection of fees, banks will have more money to hire employees to make transaction procedures faster. After all, we pay for the service so I think it will promote the development of that service.
Park Ye Jin, Korean, HCM City
I hear Vietnamese people are complaining a lot about the fees charged for ATM withdrawals. My Vietnamese friends have asked me if South Korea applies similar fees. Well, my answer is both yes and no. One doesn't have to pay fees for withdrawals within one's own bank ATM but we do have to pay fees for withdrawals from other banks' ATMs.
In my opinion, banks should not charge fees for cash withdrawals from their own ATMs. Many people may not care about VND1,000 per transaction but a lot of Bank customers are students and low-income people and charging fees will deter them from using ATM services. While banks can raise revenue from collecting the fee, they are putting more burdens on customers.
With regards to ATM services in Ha Noi, most shopping malls and crowded areas have ATMs so it's convenient to withdraw money.
However, I think the quality of ATMs should be improved as many times they are out of service. In addition, I prefer using ATM cards to pay for my goods, not cash (Now most places only accept visa/master cards but not ATM cards).
Hai Nguyen, Vietnamese, France
Pricing is a traditional way to regulate and maximize the use of resources and help service providers improve their services.
When the banks introduce their new pricing policy, what kind of services do they offer in return? And how will the services be provided to the customer?
In many other countries, the customer also has to pay a monthly card fee or bank fee for each account. In return, the customer is provided free services such as ATM, e-banking, Visa/Master card, 24/7 support etc and will be charged an extra-fee for some rare operation (such as an international bank transfer).
I'm okay with the charging of a fee for using ATM/e-banking/ VISA, Master card but not for the current banking services in Viet Nam.
Harry Dickson, Singaporean, HCM City
I have seldom used ATMs in Viet Nam. On a rare occasion, I withdrew money from the ATMs of HSBC and found no reason to complain.
Regarding the fees for ATMs, I am not sure whether it is reasonable. ATMs were set up for the convenience of customers, to avoid long queues at tellers. However, it is also convenient for banks as they can reduce manpower costs if customers use ATMs for transactions. Levying fees for the use of ATMs would discourage customers from using them and negate whatever benefits ATMs might offer.
Also, I have read of cases where customers were electrocuted when using the ATMs of local banks. Who would want to pay the fees and run the risk of getting electrocuted?
The problem with the banks, as with many other businesses, is that they are putting their own pockets ahead of providing a quality service to customers.
Andrew Burden, Canadian, Ha Noi
If charging an ATM fee can somehow translate into better service at Vietcombank, then I am all for it. The proposed fee is so small that it's almost unnoticeable. Therein lies the problem. As Vietnam modernises, you will be in constant danger of falling down the slippery slope.
Canadians are well versed in creeping fees, expanding fees, higher fees and even paying federal taxes on fees. The fees never go away. Then service industry people expect you to tip on top of that! Someone's getting greedy, someone's getting rich.
As for Vietcombank, I have just closed my Ha Noi and Sai Gon accounts. I will never return. Head office is closed at lunch time, how can I conduct my business? I was then directed to another (lunch closed) branch because I am a foreigner. Discrimination or illogical bureaucracy?
My temporary and replacement passports, plus in-person signature, were challenged. Their scanned sample was distorted, yet they said I was thrice suspect! A previous visit without a passport, due to a visa renewal, resulted in refused service at the counter (no valid ID) and then being relegated to the impersonal ATM machine that I had never used. They agreed to accompany me to the ATM.
On second thought, maybe I will stick to machines and pay the fine, I mean fee. Just not at Vietcombank. — VNS