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pricing structure that SCH is levying, and this long-time customer is getting close to having had enough. Sad, since I WAS happy with SCH. Here's a copy of what I sent to Schwab today:

To Whom It May Concern:

I have been a Schwab customer for several years, and on the whole I have been very satisfied with the level and cost of service that you have provided. However, the most recent roll-out of Schwab's new marketing of its services really gives me pause.

First, Schwab has significantly increased the required asset and/or trade frequency required to qualify for what used to be Signature Services without incurring quarterly “nuisance fees”. I can certainly understand Schwab's business need to charge enough to cover expenses and make a profit, but it is hard to understand why Schwab feels to need to levy more “nuisance fees” when your commissions and fees are already on the high side for a discount brokerage.

Second, and far more damning in my opinion, Schwab has required its self-directed Signature Services customers to “opt out” of the new pricing structure. If I were not to go to the trouble of specifically calling Schwab (twice, to get it right), my accounts would automatically start getting hit with “nuisance fees” for services that are of relatively little value to me. To add insult to injury, Schwab appears to have nearly doubled its account transfer fees a scant six months prior to implement a new, higher pricing schedule.

Third, it is increasingly clear that Schwab does not particularly value self-directed investors. Schwab appears to be slowly moving to drive us out of your customer base by steadily raising fees. I have remained a Schwab customer despite the ready availability of lower cost services elsewhere because I always thought that Schwab cared about me as a customer and would watch out for my interests. Sadly, this no longer appears to be the case.

Although I remain a Schwab customer for the moment, I must confess that your recent actions have caused me to begin considering other options. Fees and commissions are higher at Schwab than at other brokers, and the steady increase of “nuisance fees” as well as asset and trade activity levels required to qualify for decent service strongly suggest that Schwab does not want my business. I find it frankly amazing that you are turning away customers like myself, who are willing to pay higher than average commissions and monthly fees for online bill pay services (which are offered free elsewhere), especially when my household assets easily qualify me for better service at far lower cost elsewhere.

I have long appreciated Schwab's higher service levels despite the increased costs, and I have recommended your services to family and friends, several of whom have opened accounts with Schwab with considerable account balances. I hope that Schwab will begin to treat some of its core customer base better, and I am willing to forbear leaving Schwab for at least a few months in order to find out. However, I will ultimately have to look out for my interests as best I can, since Schwab no longer appears to do so.



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