Banks appeal ruling on "unfair" overdraft charges
If I'd charged Natwest for every time they'd screwed up my internet banking, I'd be rolling around naked in £50 notes. Yet whenever I make the slightest mistake, such as trickling over my overdraft limit once in three years, £30 is robbed from my account. DAMN YOU, NATWEST.
No bank is keen to make life easy during the credit crunch, and they're doing everything they can to keep every penny they have. In April, a high court judge decided that several high street banks and a building society were charging too much for overdraft charges. It was a test case that meant the Office of Fair Trading could assess exactly how much a fair bank charge should be, given that campaigners claimed the actual cost to the business was as little as £2.50. The financial institutions involved weren't best pleased, because once the assessment was complete, customers could claim hundreds of millions back from them.
That's why today the banks have struck back, launching an appeal against the high court ruling. What does that mean, exactly? At the moment, very little - nobody can apply for a rebate until the final ruling is complete. However, the outcome will have serious financial consequences for us, one way or the other.
If the appeal is successful, then we may well be stuck with £30 charges when we spend a penny or more of the bank's money without their say-so. But if the appeal is rejected and the Office of Fair Trading wins, then we'll be able to claim back some of the overdraft charges we've been forced to pay.
That sounds like good news, doesn't it? Actually, it probably won't be; no bank is going to put up with paying out several hundred million pounds, certainly not during a credit crunch. If the appeal goes against the banks, expect to see an end to free banking; whether your bank charges you a monthly fee, for cash withdrawls or every account transaction, you'll get little choice in the matter.