High bank account fees being challenged
There's few things in life more galling than bank charges. They charge you simply for existing sometimes, which is tough to take, especially given that they're responsible for every single ill in the world right now.
And Which!!!! are going after them, shouting at their turrets and punching the castle walls with their tiny little infant fists. They're saying that there are large variations between banks in the cost of "free" current accounts. They think 'free' banking is a myth.
For example, the cost of going overdrawn without permission for two days a month costs from £120 to £900 a year, which has seen the British Bankers' Association (BBA) calling the report "disingenuous", proffering that customers could get free banking if they wanted to.
Which?!?! aren't having that, saying that even those of you with authorised overdrafts can still run up huge charges and that banks also creaming money from 'free' accounts by whacking fees onto overseas transactions. The consumer group back this up with the opinion of consumers who had been polled, saying that they felt they'd paid a bank charge that was "unfair, hidden or disproportionate".
The Competition Commission, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), the Financial Services Authority (FSA), and the Independent Commission on Banking have all echoed sentiments that the term "free" is misleading.
John Howard, former FSA chair, said: "Customers don't know what the real cost of providing that basic banking service is. It makes it more difficult for new banks to enter the market place because it is a very difficult thing for new banks to set up and match this free-banking-if-in-credit offer."
"And it does encourage banks to cross-sell other products, in some cases far too eagerly, and we have had too many instances of mis-selling."
Which!!! chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith says: "It's a disgrace that the very people who bailed out the banks are being asked to pay more for the most basic accounts, while the industry continues to be rocked by scandals like PPI mis-selling, Libor rate-rigging and IT failures."