Campaigner widens assault on Midland

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The Independent Online
IAN EDWARDS, a Hertfordshire bookseller, is trying to widen his one-man campaign against Midland Bank by asking anyone who has been affected by bad service from the Midland to join an organisation he calls Griffincheck.

Mr Edwards, from Hatfield, contends he was overcharged more than pounds 6,000 over several years and his business suffered due to the worry that resulted - even after the Midland paid him compensation in 1992 of more than pounds 15,000.

He said he planned to publish a book about his experiences and those of others who he claims have suffered at Midland's hands.

A spokesman for the Midland said: 'We are well aware of Mr Edwards's views. We consider him to owe a considerable sum to the bank, and believe that this exercise is substantially a smokescreen to cloud the issue of repayment.

'Errors did occur on his account, but he has received complete refunds and an ex gratia payment that we consider, with hindsight, to be excessively generous.' The spokesman added that the bank would be happy to co-operate with an investigation by the Banking Ombudsman, should Mr Edwards wish to make a complaint.

David Gold, chief executive of Bankcalc, a company that runs checks on bank account charges, said that Midland Bank was one of the worst offenders for overcharging.

'One of my clients is a professional golfer,' said Mr Gold. 'In February, we found that he was overcharged by more than pounds 17,000. We contacted Midland, who asked for six months to sort out the problem on something which had only taken us a few days to sort out.

But that view is not universal among banking observers. Stephen Alambritis, of the National Federation of Small Businesses, commented: 'I would not say that one bank is much worse than any other. I am slightly surprised about Midland Bank, because in the past year or so they have tried to make improvements. They are now offering pounds 10 to new customers if they make a mistake transferring their account. They have also been active in regional councils for funding of small businesses.'

A spokesman for Bank Monitor, based in Essex, another account-checking company, said: 'From our experience, we have not found Midland to be the worst offender in terms of either private or small-business accounts.'

Griffincheck, tel 0707 274200.

Bankcalc, tel 081-954 7227.

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