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Monday, 27 March, 2000, 09:14 GMT 10:14 UK
Are you happy with your bank?

People are paying too much for access to the so-called "Big Four" - NatWest, HSBC, Lloyds TSB and Barclays, according to the UK Government's inquiry into banking by Don Cruickshank.

Mr Cruickshank has called for more competition and transparency to get a better deal for customers. But as we're more likely to get a divorce than switch our bank accounts will they pay any interest?

Should we as customers stop being so complacent or should the onus be on the banks to be more competitive? Do banks offer a fair service at a fair price or are they operating a monopoly? Tell us what you think of your bank. HAVE YOUR SAY

Unfortunately, I don't have an account in UK because for some reason the banking Industry makes it so hard for black man in the UK to open an account. Anyway, banks business is money, the only way they show profit is charging for opening their doors to you. They charge just enough to keep their heads above water but excess profit is stealing from the hand that feeds.
Phillip A Bakare, Nigeria

My bank has been charging me to use ATMs since 1993...even though it's on the link network. Then it leaves them out of service so i have no choice but to be charged.
Zachary Mann, England

Not all is so bad as it seems. My bank (HSBC) bent over backwards to help me finance 6 years at university, and to cope with the difficulties that arose after university when I had built up a large debt. The new innovations, so harshly criticised here, are useful. I find telephone and PC banking very convenient and useful. At the end of the day, banks are not charities and people should stop considering them as such.
Steve Eke, England



We are finding it increasingly difficult to justify our bosses demands.

Monica Hayward, UK
I work for one of the so called "Big Banks", and yes, I think a lot of the charges are extortionate. As highly as I rate myself, it would only take me a couple of minutes to write a letter to a customer telling them that they were overdrawn. At 25 per letter, I am apparently worth 750 per hour! If only.
Please remember that it isn't the branch staff that set these charges, we only implement them, very reluctantly in most cases. We are the ones that take all the flak and complaints from the customers and we are finding it increasingly difficult to justify our bosses demands.
Monica Hayward, UK

Here is another nasty trick the banks are up to. They run a clearing on Sunday night and if that puts you over your overdraft limit they will bounce cheques never mind that you pay in cartloads of money on Monday morning.
Of course, what we all have to learn is that banks are run for the convenience of banks and not for the convenience of their customers!
Ali, Scotland

The sums charged by some banks for sending a letter to tell a customer that he or she is overdrawn are clearly punitive and extortionate. I have know such outrageous fees to be levied on students who have no income and who struggle to pay university fees. A charge of 25 pounds is not uncommon.
John Gormally, England



I do retain a degree of sympathy for frontline staff as most of them look as cheesed off as I was.

Fiona, UK
The banks are only interested in profits and shareholders. Customers or staff don't come into it. The recent complaints about them are the same ones that have been doing the rounds for decades. I should know, I'm ex-staff. I hated every minute of working for them and finally resigned when things got even more shameless in the 1980s and us staff were expected to sell credit to people who were already quite clearly in trouble. I couldn't live with myself and have never regretted quitting for a moment. I've had the usual spats as a customer, but I do retain a degree of sympathy for frontline staff as most of them look as cheesed off as I was.

As a student, I qualify for a hefty student overdraft limit on my account. What Lloyds do not tell you is that once you graduate, they turn into remorseless pursuers, and are only satisfied when you take out there graduate loan, to cover the amount you are overdrawn! I too find that the banks are thoroughly impersonal, and too interested in profit making to realise who really matters... The customer! I am currently doing a work placement in Southern Germany, and was assured that my Mastercard and Visa card would be widely accepted, this however is not the case, and means paying up to 5 pounds to withdraw currency from ATM's. The bank have subsequently offered no apology, and I have to pay these charges, even though a Student account, is supposed to be free of charge!
Charles O'Brien , UK



I think we will even see higher bank charges soon if you do not move your account online.

Hugh Acland, UK
Okay people listen to this! Who do you think owns the new internet banks offering better rates and better service? Guess who? The high street banks and building societies. Why are the "old" banks doing nothing to keep you loyal? Because they WANT you to move to internet banking. They can then close 90% of their branches and - if they want - run the business from India with ridiculously low costs and sit back and take advantage of the new economy kicking in. I think we will even see higher bank charges soon if you do not move your account online. Simple.
Hugh Acland, UK

There is no logic to banks; all they want to do is to make as much money from its customers, without giving us anything in return. If I have to make a withdrawal, they keep you queuing for hours, and then sneer at you, but if you want to borrow money, they will see you straight away - where is the sense in that?
How can they explain this as a fair service, all it means to them, is that they will be losing their interest on my account, whereas all it means to me is that I'd rather find a bank that listens to their customers, and will actually work for them. Please let me know if there is such a place, and the rest of the country and myself might find some happiness with our banking.
Zoe Day, United Kingdom

I received a letter from HSBC saying that I could now use EVERY UK cashpoint, however at the same time they limited the number of FREE cashpoints - I could only use HSBC & NATWEST. I now bank with Royal Bank of Scotland, they have a policy of NO CASHPOINT FEES - ALL cashpoints are Free.
I suggest everyone moves to a bank that doesn't charge, the other banks will then have to drop their charges.
Pete Gale, UK

Being an expatriate "Brit," I have dealt with banks on both sides of the Atlantic and I can safely say that it's no different here in the US. They're all crooks...
Yaasin Hanif, USA



I have dealt with banks on both sides of the Atlantic and I can safely say that it's no different here in the US. They're all crooks.

Yaasin Hanif, USA
If you think British banks are bad you should try living here. We get 8 free transactions a month and then are charged for everything after that. The banks make $billions a year and are constantly shutting down branches, both in the city and in the country. The service is terrible. You would be hard pushed to find an Australian who is happy with their bank.
Teresa, Australia

At least it's not just us Aussies getting ripped off. Banks here are closing branches (also reducing employment especially in regional areas)and then charge you a fee for using a ATM. All this when they make billions in profit each year. Must be a world wide epidemic.
Mark Schuller, Australia

It strikes me that the banks want to have their cake and eat it. How many times have you heard that they want to lend you money when you don't need it and demand it all back again just when you need it most. As long as we realise that banks are just businesses making profits for their shareholders, we will be under no illusions. If you want co-operation and help, don't go to a bank - go to a friend.
Andrew Hunt, UK

I moved from Lloyds to the Co-op because I wanted to bank with a more ethical investor. However, partly because the bank is ethical, it is small - they have only one cash machine in my city as far as I know. It has been one of the few banks speaking up against these charges, but it is ignored because the power of the bigger banks that put very little emphasis on the nature of their investors is greater. Why is it that people like me who are responsible with their money should be penalised? At this rate I will be charged for virtually every withdrawal!
Anna Richerby, UK

If I 'withdrew' something from a shop which I knew did not belong to me I would be taken to court - for a second, third, fourth offence, I would end up in prison. If a bank charges me for doing the same thing, that is an example of the banks grasping attitude! Could someone explain the logic?
Neil, UK

Where I do feel unhappy with banks is their treatment of the so called "Lemons", the individuals who have been forced into self-employment because they are unable to find employment or the "new poor" who are unable to provide the banks with rich commissions for investment business. Surely these people require food, clothing, shelter and other creature comforts which provide considerable profits for other bank customers?
R Brisley, England



I left one penny in my Midland account and received statements from them for 10 years before they realised the account was dormant! Served them right!

Don Pearce, England
I was charged 50 some years ago by Midland for going overdrawn by 50p My reaction was to ditch Midland and move carefully to Nationwide Building Society Flexaccount, I have been satisfied with them ever since. PS I left one penny in my Midland account and received statements from them for 10 years before they realised the account was dormant! Served them right!
Don Pearce, England

I've been with Barclays, HSBC and Natwest and I have had reason to leave every one of them. I'm now with Smile (part of the Co-op) who are streets ahead of anyone else. With a credit card rate of under 10% they certainly can't be accused of overcharging. Oops, starting to sound like an advert here.
Carl Prescott, UK

Having been with NatWest and ripped off for 13 years, I have now changed to Virgin One Account which has excellent mortgage strategies and no extra charge for using any SWITCH cash points, except Woolwich & Co-op. Hence more choice & flexibility, less charges, can also recommend Egg & Sainsbury's Bank for Savings accounts.
Eva, UK



What is the final straw, in my opinion, is that branches of banks in small villages are closing and neglecting their customers.

Neil, Scotland
What is the final straw, in my opinion, is that branches of banks in small villages are closing and neglecting their customers. They are customers just as someone in the centre of a city so why not provide an acceptable service. It is long overdue that an enquiry is launched but I hope it is not just a PR stunt by a government with a fading popularity!
Neil, Scotland

In this "computer age" why does it STILL take three days for a cheque to clear? The behind-the-scenes time is irrelevant, but when I'm paying in a cheque, the money should be deemed to reach my account (for purposes of avoiding going overdrawn) the moment that the cheque touches the cashier's hand.
Martin, England

Barclays should be Big Hearted and change their policy on closure of small branches. It is another nail in the coffin of small local rural communities.
Jacky Heath, UK

Happy with my bank? Delighted - but then I'm with First Direct, and no, I don't get paid to push them.... Yes, they make the odd mistake, but - wait for this - they put it right and then they APOLOGISE. Refreshing, eh?
Tim Lee, UK Expat in Belgium

In the US, the bank system is similar to what is happening in the UK. You have to buy your own cheques, pay for your debit cards, pay a fee to your bank and the bank you withdraw from if you don't use your own branch. There are very few "free" checking accounts on offer in the banks and most require some kind of fee for the upkeep. Although the UK banks are unfairly charging to withdraw money from your account they are still way ahead in the world of banking.
D Bower, USA (British Ex-pat)

Isn't it amazing how a big bank like Barclays can spend big money on big advertising campaigns of which the big stars alone must have cost big bucks? Why not have small adverts that cost small money and keep the small branches in small communities going? After all, a bank won't survive without it's customers. Vote with your feet - I already have. I've been with HSBC, Nat West, Barclays and Lloyds - and moved to the Co-operative Bank a few years ago. They are head and shoulders above the rest and don't charge a fortune.
Mark Wayt, York, UK



Small businesses and personal customers get a very poor deal from the main High St banks

Ed Green, UK
Small businesses and personal customers get a very poor deal from the main High St banks. I asked Barclays what they were going to do and was told that there would be some changes in the new year, I asked again this year and it'll be in six to eight weeks - too bad by that time I'll have shut down the account and gone to Flemings!
Ed Green, UK

Yes, I'm happy with my bank. I have free phone banking from anywhere in the world, I've been banking by internet since 1998, and I can use any cash machine in the country (except Amex machines) without being charged. But then, I'm not with any of the British high street banks - I moved to Citibank.
Simon Lacey, UK

As some one who has run up a debt of over 60,000 (due to a combination or personal problems and the bank's willingness to lend money willy-nilly), the Banks have me stitched up good and proper with ATM fees. I wrote to mine about it to complain and asked for justification for the charges, together with the 30 they charge me for 'bouncing' a direct debit or standing order. "Administration charges" came the reply. Why, when asked, do the Bank directors decry the figures quoted in the Crooks-bank (sic) report yet fail to give any figures of their own? Can't do the Math is my reckoning!
Tony Martin, London, UK

I have had accounts with the Halifax for nearly three years since my first job, and had ISAs, Cashpoint card, and now have opened a Current Account, with debit/cheque guarantee card, cheque book and full telephone/internet services. I have no complaints, and being on the Link network cuts down bank charges, forget the BIG FOUR, go to Halifax, or Co-operative. Cashback is also very handy in supermarkets.
Matthew, England



Banks are the blood sucking vampires of the modern age.

Krishan Cnagasabey, UK
Banks are the blood sucking vampires of the modern age. They function as the tool, which continues the enslavement of the third world and any underclass in the developed world.
Krishan Cnagasabey, UK

It isn't that difficult to change one's account from one bank to another, and I suspect far too few people make the effort to do so. Well, that's their own downfall. I changed from NatWest to First Direct when the former started charging overdraft fees as soon as I ceased to be a student. Obviously they weren't interested in waiting a little longer to reap the benefits of my future earning potential, so I told them where to get off! My father did the same thing in solidarity, as he was having a few problems with NatWest too. Vote with your feet, people! I'm considering doing the same again now that I've discovered that First Direct (HSBC) charge a disloyalty penalty at other banks' cash machines. I don't need bank branches, I only need a telephone account and easy access to my cash, hence my belief that my satisfaction does not require great expense in the form of bank fees and spurious charges. It may be time for me to tell HSBC where to get off...
Michael Kilpatrick, Cambridge, UK

I have been with my bank for nearly 9 years, and although I find my local branch to be friendly, helpful and efficient, the bank has decided that in order to improve efficiency they would divide everything up into dedicated centres. Which means that during working hours, I have to speak to someone who has never met me, doesn't know my history or situation and I end up explaining everything four or five times. Well, it's nice to know they've got time to sit around chatting...
Lizz, UK

My ex-bank recently demanded instant repayment of my loan account. Was I behind in payments? No. Can I not show the income to cover the payments? No. The reason for them to demand the money is because of a technicality. I had told them that I was dissatisfied with their service and would be opening business accounts for my Internet start-up company with one of their competitors. Their response was to draw on the fine print of the loan - which says that I must bank with them - and use this as an excuse to register me as a defaulter with the credit checking agencies. This is precisely the kind of petty, childish, and vindictive behaviour that led me in the first place to move my business banking in the first place.
Andrew, Belgium / UK

I should also like a real explanation of why in this age of communications the banks take 4 - 5 days to clear a cheque other than to use my money for their own purposes.
Grahame Lynam-Carter, UK

Banks in Australia charge for every transaction made and it actually costs money to do an over the counter transaction. On top of this branches have been closing and the service received is woeful. I have found complaining does work especially when you threaten to take them to the Banking Ombudsman because the service is free to the customer, but very expensive to the Bank as they have to pay all costs. State and Federal governments also charge a percentage on every withdrawal.
Joe Neill, Republic of Australia (Scotish National)

Too many businesses fail because banks rely on getting people into debt to make their money, instead of competently checking a business plan and then working in partnership with small entrepreneurs as in Germany. The main reason the UK is choked off from Net commerce is the sheer ignorance and obstructive bureaucracy of the banks. Ignore them. Use a building society for (free electronic) business accounts, and go straight to a Net bureau for Net credit handling.
S. Jayran, UK

Wouldn't it be great to have High Street financial institutions which have no shareholders, good savings rates and low mortgage deals? Well, we do. They're called Building Societies. However, if the Carpetbaggers carry on with this relentless campaign of forcing them to convert to banks we will deserve all we get. Carpetbagging is viewed as harmless fun in many areas of the press, but it isn't. People's jobs are put at risk by branch closures when the societies convert to PLC and we are losing vital institutions that keep the banks on their toes.
S M O'Keefe, England

The UK Government's inquiry into banking by Don Cruickshank is another example of stating the obvious. You can point out such rip offs like price of cars, music CDs and banking charges until your blue in the face but it means nothing if the government fails to act. At the moment this New Labour government is more interested in 'window dressing than minding the shop'!
Malcolm McCandless, Scotland



The UK Government's inquiry into banking by Don Cruickshank is another example of stating the obvious.

Malcolm McCandless, Scotland
I have a current account with Lloyds for which I have a debit card and make many direct debit debit/standing order payments. The cost to me is I guess the loss of interest on an average balance of 800, say 40 a year. I may be alone but I think this is a pretty reasonable deal. And no I don't work for the bank!
Steve, England

I am a student in my final year and, as most students do, I find myself broke at the moment. In the past I have found my bank(HSBC) extremely uncooperative and unsympathetic about my situation. That was until recently when, during an inquiry about services, I mentioned the job offers I had for when I finish my degree this summer. Their whole attitude changed and finally I am the banks' best friend all of a sudden......Shallow.
Rick, UK

Banks provide abysmal service these days. It seems that 'Managers' have no say in any matter other than staffing. Every decision is made by a computer, and the computers are programmed to fleece you!
Cai, UK

I've banked with Lloyds (TSB) for the last 10 years - and the service they've provided me with has been good. I would say, however, that given the rise of Tesco Personal Banking and the like, Lloyds are no longer competitive in terms of the loan and interest earning rates they offer, even to said Gold Account Holders - which is disappointing. Also, they only give you an overdraft window of 10 before the charges kick in. Even organised overdrafts from 10 upwards cost 5 per month plus interest. I shall doubtless seek a more competitive current account in the near future... Lloyds and the like - "Watch Out" I say!
Clare, London, UK



I HATE banks. Dont even TALK to me about them. Just having written about them, Ill now have to go and lie down

Graham Bell, Brazil
Here in Brazil I pay 8.5% per MONTH when overdrawn, I am charged to maintain the account, charged for a statement, charged for the chequebook, charged for cash withdrawals, charged for absolutely everything, not to mention the 0.375% federal tax on every transaction. On top of this, the queues are so absurd that I have to employ somebody to go and stand in them. I HATE banks. Dont even TALK to me about them. Just having written about them, Ill now have to go and lie down...
Graham Bell, Brazil

I give my bank a lovely low interest loan (circa 1%) and I increase this each month. For this I am expected to pay charges? Fine, I'll start charging them for my wasted time waiting to be served, on hold, reading their junk mail etc. Fair's fair!
JI, Scotland

I have a Belgian bank account. If there are insufficient funds in it to meet, say, a standing order, the money is simply not transferred and the issue lies between me and the person who is expecting the money. It costs me nothing. Two months ago, I was in the position where money did not arrive in my Barclays bank account in time to make a payment. Barclays, however, transferred the money from my account anyway and on the same day, pulled it back into my account charging me GBP 25.00 for the privilege!!! British banks are institutionalised criminals.
Granite, Belgium



If you want E-banks who push all the costs of money transmission and cheque clearing onto traditional banks you cannot complain.

Ian, England
It seems obvious to me that you can either have lower charges or small costly branches but not both so make your mind up Joe public. Also if you want E-banks who push all the costs of money transmission and cheque clearing onto traditional banks you cannot complain when those banks charge you for using the service.
Ian, England

Bank Charges structure needs reform. Banks would argue that they already compete but this needs investigation. The charging by number of transactions when your account goes into over-draught is a restriction of use.
Finally, lack of co-operation between banks makes it very awkward to change banks. Changing banks should be made as easy as possible in order to encourage competition.
Steve Richards, UK

At the end of the day people need bank accounts. You can't get paid without one in most places. The big banks have been allowed to get away with ripping us off for so long that they now treat it as the norm. Nice sentiment from the Government but I don't see them breaking the status quo.
Stuart, UK

I would definitely recommend people to look around. The internet offers great deals now e.g. Egg and in particular Smile. However, as always the mutuals come out on top especially the Co-operative Bank - don't be a snob when picking your bank, you just end up being ripped-off.
James, UK



I don't understand why people having trouble with their high street banks won't move elsewhere.

Derek Mottershaw, England
I don't understand why people having trouble with their high street banks won't move elsewhere. Despite being a Royal Mail employee, it took me several years to overcome my prejudices and bank with Girobank (now owned by Alliance & Leicester). Not only do I get convenient 'phone banking, including direct debits etc, but I can get cash over the counter at any Post Office (with a guarantee card). Post Offices are actually open when the public demands, and by changing banks you may help the threatened rural Post Offices from closure...simple Eh?
Derek Mottershaw, England

It's not just the hole in the wall charges that are extortionate. Charges made for sending a letter to a customer telling them they've gone overdrawn by 20, and that the letter notifying them of this is costing them a further 30 seems daft. Neither good for the bank or for the customer, although the bank won't suffer nearly so much as the customer now trying to find 50...
Gingertop, UK

I'd like to know where all the money goes when you have to wait three days or whatever it is for a cheque to clear? In this modern digital age, why do transactions, from one account in the same bank to another take days?
Why is it that when the interest rates go up, mortgage rates go up instantly, but savers' rates go up months later?
Why is it that savers rates always go down instantly when the rate falls, but mortgage rates take longer? Why are we charged to take our own money out of cash machines? Are banks a rip off? Until I hear some sensible answers to these questions I can only assume that they are!
David, UK



I firmly believe that all non-customers of the bank or building society involved should be charged 5 per withdrawal.

John, UK
I am quite happy with the service provided by my bank (1 of the big 4). They stuck with me and my family through the lean years (at a cost to us of course). Now things at looking far better they are very helpful.
What I do find objectionable is the whinging by customers of the smaller banks and the building societies about the ATM issue. For me it is quite clear - if you want the convenience of using the ATM networks of the big 4 then get an account with 1 of the big 4. Otherwise you are stuck with the smaller networks.
My local bank branch is closed Saturdays and therefore once the ATM is filled late on Friday the money has to last until Monday. I find it infuriating to see people park outside the building society but find it's ATM is closed and then wander down to the bank to get money from a different network. When they are charged for the service they start whinging to the watchdogs.
For the record: I firmly believe that all non-customers of the bank or building society involved should be charged 5 per withdrawal since the banks provide the service for THEIR CUSTOMERS not the customers for somebody down the road who are offering 0.25% more interest to try to poach customers.
John, UK



Remember who owns a bank's assets? Its customers.

Bob, UK
Join the protest! Everyone I know is writing five cheques for the value of 1p each and swapping them with their mates with a view to paying them all in on the 3rd April. It costs a bank 27p to process a cheque, so at least we have a chance to hurt the driving force behind bank greed, namely their shareholders.
I hope enough people take part to cause a collapse in the antiquated cheque clearing system. Banks seem to have forgotten that they are only "agents" bringing lenders and borrowers together and charging a fee for it! Remember who owns a banks assets? Its customers.
Bob, UK

The internet is giving greater price transparency and it is only a matter of time before the big banks challenge the newcomers. Power rests with the consumer. I cut up my bank credit card some years ago due to the annual fee. I now have a goldfish card which costs nothing and gives me back 1% on everything I spend.
I also changed my bank account to First Direct where you get to speak to a real person 24 hours a day. Their service is far superior to the faceless call-centres that the big banks have become.
john, UK

I moved my current account to the Nationwide from Natwest thirteen years ago. Since then I've had no reason to look elsewhere. Nationwide's policy enabling free national and international ATM withdrawals has to be applauded.
Alex Mitchell, UK



The only way I avoid exploitation of MY money is to physically go into the bank, withdraw cash and pay it back in!

Vicki, UK
I currently hold two current accounts with the same bank, at different branches; one of the big four no less. If I transfer money between the two accounts it disappears into the 'clearing system' for three days. The only way I avoid exploitation of MY money is to physically go into the bank, withdraw cash and pay it back in! This does not make any sense, in the age of telephone and internet banking.
Vicki, UK

If I keep at least 1 in my current account, my bank will provide me with:
- Free Debit / Cheque cards;
- Free, unlimited chequebooks;
- Free clearing of cheques;
- Free on-line banking and software;
- Free telephone banking;
- Free standing orders and direct debits;
- Free monthly statements;
- A maintained network of cash machines;
- A network of staffed branches nationwide;

My bank supplies all this without a penny of state subsidy.
David Sansom, UK

The banks obviously have short memories, didn't they use "Well, you can use other ATM's" as their excuse to close branches to save money? I've one or two spare cheque books to use up - I think I'll be swapping money between my accounts with a large number of 1p cheques.
Ange Hodgson, UK

On Radio 5 Live this morning a representative of the UK banks claimed it was easy to switch Banks in the UK. While in theory I would agree with this, in practice issue arise that make it difficult. For example many Bank's will not give you the amount of overdraft you currently enjoy until you have been with them for a while. Also credit worthiness is affected by the length of time with the bank.
Jon Farmer, UK

My wife runs a small business that sells items over the internet. We started by using our HSBC account to cash the foreign currency cheques that we received. To our horror we discovered that the HSBC charge a minimum 4 + 1% per transaction. We now use our old Dutch Bank account that does not charge at all for this service. HSBC were totally unhelpful and inflexible when we challenged them about the charges. We were fortunate to have this account available otherwise our small business would have been killed at birth.
Steve Allen, UK



People don't have to bank with the Big 4 but those who choose to do so should stop whinging, get off their backsides and seek an alternative.

Jenni, UK
Isn't this a bit of a non-question, given the alternatives opening up on an almost daily basis? People don't have to bank with the Big 4 but those who choose to do so should stop whinging, get off their backsides and seek an alternative.
I use HSBC for my current account and have never had any complaint about them. They always respond swiftly and efficiently to my queries - if this is the service I get at the expense of extra interest, so be it. My savings are in a telephone-operated account - these accounts, historically, provide far better rates of interest. So what you lose on the one hand, you can gain elsewhere if you bother.
Jenni, UK

Yes, I am quite happy with my bank - Alliance & Leicester / Giro. I never pay bank charges and I get monthly interest (albeit at a low rate) on my current account. I never have any problems, have never been refused a loan when required and have telephone access to balance enquiry and other services. Why bank with anyone else?
W Butcher, England

Most banks are immoral, opportunistic gluttons. They are parasites on society and should be recognised as such. What I've never understood is why the public is so supine and tolerant of their increasingly abhorrent behaviour. It would be nice, naive but nice, if enough customers of 'big bad banks' took the plunge and told them to stick it.
Constantly Disgusted, UK

When one opens a current account, one does not expect to get significant interest on the balance as one would with a savings account. As such, the money one deposits is effectively a free loan to the bank, which it then invests and with which it earns income. Naturally, this income is not passed on to the account holder (or if it is, it is at a derisory low rate - I get 0.25%). The quid pro quo of this is that the bank does not charge one for running the account, including ATM withdrawals.
If the banks wish to charge customers for running current accounts, then they must expect to cease to have free use of the customers' money and find that the customer expects in return a rate of interest on the balance which is nearer that of savings accounts.
E Coleman, UK



I changed banks because of banking ineptitude and now I have more of the same.

Mike Barton, England
Happy with my bank? That's an emphatic NO. I changed banks because of banking ineptitude and now I have more of the same. You can't win! Currently they want me to pay for being overdrawn despite the fact I have statements (from THEM), showing that I had funds in the account at the time ... you tell me!?? They don't understand customer service and their charges are not justifiable...
Mike Barton, England

I moved my account from Nat West to Royal Bank Of Scotland after a series of problems with my account. I have been much happier with the service from RBS and given the lack of interest shown by Nat West when I moved my account and the relative ease with which the move was achieved I would advise that any one else who is unhappy shops around and moves. Trouble is now I am likely to be charged for using ATMs as RBS have so few - looks like I will just have to use "cash back" in supermarkets - but will not move back to the big four as a result of this rip off with charging to withdraw my own money.
Rachel Pollard, UK

After 10 years with the Halifax, including a Mortgage, I found them branding me 'disloyal' because there's no Halifax Branch or ATM within 3 miles of where I live. The choice I have is to spend 1.30 bus fare to get to the next town, or forfeit a 1 charge for using the local ATM to get my own money out. On Saturday I closed my account with them, and am in the process of remortgaging. If I'm going to be accused of being disloyal, then I damn well will be!!
Paul Clare, UK



One of the real scandals has to be the length of time it takes for a cheque to 'clear'.

Dave French, England
All the talk of how internet banking is taking over misses one key point. What about the masses of individuals and small businesses who deal in real money - cash. It has been mentioned about Post Offices fulfilling this role but even these are under threat with the payment of benefits directly into accounts.
One of the real scandals has to be the length of time it takes for a cheque to 'clear'. Five working days is not acceptable. What this demonstrates is that the banks do not want its customers to use this 'old fashioned' method of transferring money about. As a result, I use cheques as often as I can.
Dave French, England



British banks are amongst the worst in the developed (and developing for that matter) world.

Anton Zimmermann, UK
My experience of banks in South Africa and Spain as well as Britain leads me to believe that British banks are amongst the worst in the developed (and developing for that matter) world. The time which transactions take to be processed by the big UK banks is inexcusably slow in the modern computerised era especially considering the fact the Britain is a G7 economy and that London is continually touted as the financial capital of Europe.
Anton Zimmermann, UK

The amount of times that the cash machines run out of money is irritating at best, but when you then have to use an alternative machine (even if you've bothered to travel further to use the correct machine) and they expect you to pay for the privilege, it becomes unacceptable!
I'm fed up and can't wait for the 50 limit on cash back to be abolished. As a student I have to watch my pennies as it is, and I don't like paying to take my own money out of a machine so I can go and buy a can of baked beans or whatever...
Alex Banks, Wales

I think the banks have been allowed to remain in a cosy set-up with little competition for far too long. For personal customers they pay lousy rates of interest on current accounts. Also, incredibly, they still insist on taking 3 or 4 days to transfer amounts amongst themselves, even with electronic online services.
I have rejected my bank's business banking offering on the Web as they want to charge 10 per month for the privilege of dealing with them in this way.
Richard, UK

I've had so many problems with the banks, they have this superiority complex when it comes to treating their customers. But recently I have come into a lot of money and now my bank is bending over backwards to give every assistance, what did I do, closed my account and moved to egg.
Ruaridhs, Scotland



I don't think people realise quite how much running a customer's current account actually costs a bank!

Paul, UK
I don't think people realise quite how much running a customer's current account actually costs a bank! For most customers who stay in credit, banks don't charge for everyday services at all, but that doesn't mean that they don't pay for the cash points they have, the direct debit, the statements, the issuing of debit cards and the huge technology costs to provide a 24x7 service that bank customers take for granted!
While I certainly do agree that some of the banks customer service is poor (even very poor), I think that people should recognise that banks don't make much money out of running a normal, in credit current account.
Paul, UK

Main High St Banks are robbers and customers the "swag in the bag". Their attitude to customers beggars belief.
JE, UK

I went overdrawn by 50, the first time in over 5 years, and was immediately charged 54. For the rest of the month I was 3000 in credit, interest paid was 7p.
M Harrison, UK

The public should be more demanding about the service they receive from their banks and vote with their feet when they are given poor service.
However this doesn't mean that much more scrutiny should be placed upon the banking market. It seems to me inconceivable that UK banks do not operate a cartel. Their mealy mouthed whinging over the need to fleece customers every time they withdraw money is only their latest insult to their customers.
Eric Christison, UK



You do not owe any loyalty to an overcharging high street bank with a poor service record.

Duncan, UK
I abandoned the main high street banks years ago and moved to First Direct - an excellent service. I recently moved from FD to VirginOne because of the preferential mortgage interest calculation method. I have also briefly had an Egg account. My advice would be to shop around. Telephone and internet banking is here to stay and will almost completely displace high street branches within the next few years. You do not owe any loyalty to an overcharging high street bank with a poor service record. It is easy to move so why not try the new kids.
Duncan, UK

The banks aren't exactly helping their public image over the whole ATM charges issue. However, anyone who feels that British banks are treating customers badly should be thankful they don't live in the US.
Chris Brown, UK

We have accounts at NatWest due to having lived in London for a year. Compared to what we have in the States, we've been very displeased with the level of service, high fees, and low interest rates paid on our accounts. Perhaps Mr. Cruikshank could look to the banking industry in the US to provide some ideas for reform in the UK.
Shelley Dumoulin, USA



I am quite happy with the service my bank provides.

Andrew Kelly, UK
I am quite happy with the service my bank provides. Of course I would prefer lower charges. However the only way to force banks into reducing charges is people power. Unfortunately it is impossible to get everybody to agree to taking action against the banks.
The French, when faced with spiralling charges I believe used people power, with a large number of people damaging the barcode on their checks making it difficult for the bank to process them and forcing them into re-thinking their charging strategy. Maybe we should do that in this country?
Andrew Kelly, UK

I can't help feeling that banks get confused about whose money this actually is. I earn it and the bank gets the use of it before I ever see it, then charges me for drawing it! How about banks paying us for the ongoing loan of our money?
lynne, UK

Big Banks are impersonal and totally profit oriented. Far worse service now.
I R Hewitt, USA


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20 Mar 00 | Business
Report raps British banks
19 Mar 00 | Business
Backlash against UK banks
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