/ Money

How would you improve banking services?

Bank charges

The CMA has issued its possible remedies for retail banking, but we’re not convinced it has gone far enough. So how would you improve banking for customers?

Back in February we launched our Better Banks campaign. Part of the reason behind our campaign was that we felt the Competition and Market Authority’s (CMA) banking inquiry was failing to address some of the big issues – notably around overdraft charges. Well the CMA issued a supplemental notice of possible remedies for retail banking on 7 March, but we think they still fail to hit the mark.

From the stories you’ve shared with us about your banking experiences, the picture is quite clear: banks aren’t doing enough to support their customers.

Eye-watering overdraft charges

As C.H.DWYER pointed out, bank charges can be particularly punishing for customers, even for the tiniest slips into the red:

‘I have not needed an overdraft for a number of years but I do think banks are charging punitive amounts for being slightly overdrawn. Matters are worse if you do not check your bank accounts daily to see immediately that you are overdrawn.’

Pam Quelch explained to us how these charges can be the start of a snowballing debt, and an unnecessary worry for her student daughter:

‘My daughter is a first year university student and has been using her overdraft and went a little over, the bank was going to charge her £10 per day. It’s ridiculous as then you just get further into debt.’

For Calchan, the charge without warning seems unfair, and hardly the practice of a customer service industry:

‘In this day and age it should be possible to send an email or text alert to allow say 24 hours to rectify the situation rather than just slapping a charge on. My children have only slipped up once but it was a painful experience for them. Banks need to be more nuanced and genuinely customer focused in what they offer.’

It would seem that banks just aren’t doing enough to support overdraft users, like Simon:

‘Customers are penalised by banks when they should have been more circumspect with their lending in the first place. I got overdrawn but they now refuse to help me out by not changing this into a loan that I could pay off in six years. The money saved in overdraft charges would have paid the loan off. Instead I am faced with several more years of debt before I can clear this.’

And, as illustrated by Mike’s story, the bottom line is that overdraft charges generate a lot of revenue for the banks:

‘My bank also charged me £30 per day for being overdrawn for just £2 for a total of 20 days. Then they also charged me with an unauthorised overdraft of another £30+ interest! Total cost nearly £1000 which was more than my wages! So kept getting charged every month!’

Finding a solution

It appears that the CMA agrees with the issues we’ve raised regarding overdrafts, but it has only listened to us to an extent.

Some of the suggested remedies are a step in the right direction. Requiring banks to give their customers more alerts, prompts, buffer zones and grace periods to help them manage their money and avoid overdraft charges, are all good suggestions.

But the CMA still seems reluctant to take action to control unfair, punitive charges faced by unauthorised overdraft users. And if these charges stay high, generating significant revenue for the banks, then we need to question how incentivised are the banks going to be to help their customers avoid them?

So what do you think needs to be done to improve banking services?

Comments
Member

While the argument is brought up that it is the customers fault if you go into the red even by a few £££ it is obvious that this is a money making exercise for the banks on a massive scale as such they will have zero intention of stopping this . Interest rates are near zero so little gain is made by customer helping the banks case and not yours , I made the remark on another Convo that it would be better to hide your money under the floorboards , surprise ! surprise ! ,it was announced a few days ago that because Japanese banks are in the negative for interest rates the Japanese customer is doing just that ,so much so that the State is having to print extra money this year. In America the money deposited by the customer does not belong to him/her but legally to the banks due to the big rip-off by the banks in the past . The problem all customers have is Direct-Debit and Internet Banking now part of society in 2016 so that in reality your money is virtual and the banksters keep your real money it wont be long till the banks decide what you do with your own money as this modern method is here to stay. What to do about it ? well either ban overdrafts ,which I dont see happening, or bring out banking legislation to curb the greed of the banksters and limit what they can charge but the banks and their sycophants will fight that tooth and nail.

Member

“real money” doesn’t exist – cheap steel coins and paper or plastic have no intrinsic value. You would have to look to gold and silver in that they had real uses other than legal tender – as long as their was a need for those precious metals. So we use tokens; they might as well be electronic as printed. The only real “money” is in physical assets, carefully chosen to continually become scarcer. I do take the point about keeping your tokens under the floorboards. Hope for no house fires and don’t forget about it when you move (wavechange – a reminder 🙂 ).

Member

Hidden underneath the floorboards of my late mother-in-law’s house was a stash of Royal Arsenal Cooperative Society dividend tokens – little tin or brass ‘coins’ which could be redeemed for cash. They were issued in proportion to the amount spent in the stores [like Clubcard or Nectar points today]. Not specie, or treasure trove, but an interesting find none the less.

Member

It is true that modern methods such as Direct Debits and the Internet have contributed to the “cashless society”, but is this not more convenient for all of us. Would you really like to queue in any establishment to draw cash, then to have to take it to physically pay your Gas/Electricity supplier? The fact that money has become virtual has heightened security, with smaller amounts being carried by us and by Security Carriers. This has helped to reduce the total cost of cash handling compared to what it would otherwise have been. The balance in your account still belongs to you!

Member

Duncan Lucas, I agree completely! Another banking scam is the conversion of currency and transmitting it to another country! My bank used to gain on the conversion by offering a poorer exchange rate, then charge £25 per transaction to transfer to a bank account in another country, despite the fact that I transferred it regularly!
I researched other ways to do it and PayPal and the Post Office do not charge for the service at all, though they may make some money on the exchange – a much better deal!
Banks are a rip off!

Member

Folk have been complaining about currency charges for some while now:

Matthew 21:12-13King James Version (KJV)

12 And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,

13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.

Member

And nothing has changed in every sense of the words spoken have they Derek ?

Member

Now that most employees and pensioners are on monthly pay the banks are accumulating vast dollops of money long before it is drawn against. This has been quietly building up over the last three decades as weekly pay and payment in cash have faded into the background. The overwhelming majority of customers probably don’t run a regular overdraft so since almost everyone has a high street bank account these days the banks are sitting on more money than they know what to do with at times. I think it’s time they cut us all a little slack and handed out some carrots to reward us for our loyalty and tolerance.

I remain of the view that taking unauthorised overdrafts is wrong so I cannot agree with the view in the Intro that the charges for that are unfair. I agree they are punitive but rightly so in my opinion.

I expect most banks consider that they have acquired customers they would rather not have. This might condition their approach to charges.

As a matter of interest, why is that those of us who use a high street bank are ‘customers’ but those who use an off-shore bank or some other financial institution are ‘clients’ ?