Thursday, 26 February 2009

UK Bank Charges Assessable For Fairness

Breaking news in the bank charges saga: the Court of Appeal ruled today that certain allegedly excessive current account charges can be assessed for fairness under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations.

There'll be no further delay on that little issue, as the banks' request to drag it into the House of Lords was refused. [The House of Lords subsequently granted leave to the banks to appeal, due to be heard in June 2009]

So now, either (a) customers must endure another delay while the banks pompously trot out their evidence as to why the OFT was wrong to challenge their fees as unfair, or (b) the new significant shareholder in many of the banks can put an end to much of this nonsense by insisting they refund what was alleged to be excessive as a "fiscal stimulus".

Of course, a "fair" bank could always demonstrate real leadership on the issue, by simply issuing the refunds of its own volition. But it seems each bank believes that just wouldn't be fair on the others.

Oh, look, this post comes hard on the heels of the one where the European Commission says:
"in the banking sector switching is low and offers difficult to compare. The substantial variation in bank fees between Member States is not explained by differences in expenditure levels". In the first half of 2009, the EC will "assess the problems consumers face resulting from a lack of transparency in retail financial services."

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