31.01.08, The Lottery of Banking!

Recently I had a run in with my Bank. It was over an unreasonable fine and interest charge because I was, understandably, 2 days late in paying my credit card balance, when I had substantial funds in my current account gaining no interest. This made me examine my banking experiences over 61 years with the same account. The bank was taken over some years ago and again recently, and each time I have noticed a reduction in the spontaneity between teller and customer. In the old days a telephone call between an official and me saved us considerable time, mutually, and I felt a bond with the bank, I am sure it is a combination of the sign of the times, computerisation, and orders from the new boss, but my current experience smacks of a level of sharpness one would not have expected when it is realised the bank has held substantial sums of ours for very many years, giving no, or very low rates of interest, while having use of the money with which to deal on the Stock Exchange..

The invoice from the associated credit card section gives a date up to which payment must be paid. On the back it informs one, if read, that payment by cheque requires 3 days to be deducted from the payment date for cheque clearance. It would seem more in the interest of the customer, but clearly not the bank, if the 3 days were deducted from the date of payment, and the fact that a cash settlement allowed a 3 day extension were put on the back. Old idiots like me forget that Saturdays and Sundays are days of rest, if, indeed we even know what day it is, in this rather boring old age. The result is our calculations are 2 days out and we get a fine and interest charges for late payment, in spite of having ten time the value of the payment lying in our current account with no interest. The bank will probably say correlation is too difficult. With salaries ranging from £2000 to at least 100,000 pa, the monthly deposits in the current accounts must act as surety, and flagging for solvency and repeated errors could simplify the system and eradicate the resentment by valued customers. If people can run up vast debts, then renege, surely one overdue payment should not bring the bank to its knees?

The ultimate resentment is twofold. How can banks calculate that a delay of 2 days can attract such a Draconian response, when the calculations and responses are electronic, and when also, as part of the worldwide credit card industry, collectively they have allowed a buy-now-pay-never culture? This has been the case for far too long, allowing the whole industry to become unstable. It has caused savers, of whom the OAPs are a fair proportion, to be taxed by a weak government, to repay debts amounting round the world, to a level which should never have accrued, and the whole sequence is being viewed by many, including me, not as tantamount to, but actual collusion in pure theft.

We should all write to our banks and complain. We will be footing the bill, as well as them, but we have had no hand in this debacle and should so not be the ones penalised.

Categorized as General

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