Monday, February 16, 2009

Bloody Bankers

You'd think in these days of no good news about bankers that they'd at least be doing something to ensure good service for customers. But no. It seems that we're just a human commodity to milk for as much return as possible. At least that's my current experience with Lloyds TSB.

I pay £12 a month on my current account to ensure a reasonable overdraft facility - not the cheapest deal and possibly not the best. But inertia has kept me a loyal Lloyds customer for about 25 years - not that loyalty counts for anything in these bank-crunched times.

Anyway, I exceeded that overdraft by £9 for less than 24 hours last month. As soon as I realised what was happening, I put the account back into credit.

Yet Lloyds has written to me charging me £21 - 225% of the amount I went over - hardly a sum likely to make me feel positive about the bank I now own a part of, and something of an insult given the excessively poor decsions the bank has made in my name in recent months.

Now, having worked for banks in the past, I can see both sides of the argument around bonuses. I actually have little worry around those people in the retail bank who pick up a small sum for a good job in a customer-facing environment. But as for the investment bankers. That's a wholly different story. There's no way they should be rewarded for driving a culture that's taken the world into depression. Perhaps, indeed, they should be footing the bonuses of the rest of the bank?

In fact, the more I read about Lloyds TSB, the less i like them at the moment. They say the average bonus they're paying is £1000 but the total is £150 million. With approximately 70,000 staff, that would account for £70 million - assuming everyone got a bonus....and of course not everyone will. So there's 80 million going over and above - which seems to imply that a number of fat cats are getting fatter at our expense, while I get a bit thinner due to excessive overdraft charging.

Anyway, on hearing about the charge, here's my response to Lloyds TSB:

Dear Mr Williams

I was rather disappointed to receive a letter from you this morning indicating that you plan to charge me £21 for going £9.33 past my agreed planned overdraft for one day.

At 225% of the unplanned overdraft sum, I find your charge excessive and would ask you to re-credit it.

I note your letter was sent yesterday, January 21st. Yet had you looked at my account statement, you would have seen that the account, which generally operates in credit, never mind within the agreed overdraft limits, was not just back inside the agreed £400 overdraft, but indeed over £200 in credit.

Slapping on a grossly disproportionate fee rather than alerting me to my account status first smacks of sharp practice and leaves a very bad taste in my mouth – especially in light of the less than glowing examples the banks have shown in their recent conduct of business.

I would ask you to use your common sense in reassessing whether my misdemeanour was worthy of such a charge, and to reinstate the sum to my account as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely

Mark Shanahan

I've had no response from Mr. Williams at the laughingly-named Privilege Direct Team in Glasgow. Instead today I received a standard computer-generated statement of monthly charges stating the £21 will be taken in a few days time.

Totally ignoring me does not sit well with me - and in a time when banks are under such scrutiny, why should I simply accept such high-handed service? Clearly banks have to make a profit - no more so than today. But it should not be through poor customer service and excessive overdraft charges.

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