Money News: OFT gets banks to speed up their act on cheques
Sunday 19 November 2006
Banks are to clear customers' cheques within set time limits under a new deal with the Office of Fair Trading.
At present, cheques typically take three days to clear before interest is credited and cash can be withdrawn.
But under new rules due to come into force in November next year, money deposited in any account will start to earn interest - or will count against overdrafts - within two working days.
Account holders will be allowed to withdraw funds from a maximum of four working days after the cheque is deposited.
And, unless the payee is a knowing party to fraud, financial institutions will have only six working days in which to take money deposited by cheque back out of an account. In other words, a cheque won't bounce after six days.
These changes - to apply to all accounts, including "basic" bank accounts - were agreed by the Payment Systems Task Force, an industry review body set up by the Office of Fair Trading. The task force concluded there was no case for a "complete rebuild of the cheque clearing system".
Cheque use is falling by 8 per cent a year, and other changes proposed earlier this year will speed up electronic payments by internet or phone - methods commonly used in preference to cheques. By late 2007, funds being transferred electronically should reach bank accounts on the same day the customer deposits them.
The move was welcomed by consumer bodies.
"Britain's centuries-old cheque-clearing system has for too long been slow and confusing," said Philip Cullum from the National Consumer Council. "This will benefit many customers, offering them greater certainty and better service."
Energy: British Gas ads ruled 'misleading'
British Gas has come under fire from the Advertising Standards Authority for a "misleading" claim in its adverts.
The adjudication follows a string of television and press ads that said: "Every 60 seconds, someone switches back to British Gas".
In Scotland, the same claim was made in reference to British Gas's subsidiary, Scottish Gas.
A member of the public queried the ad after calculating that its claim amounted to more than 526,000 people per year, which he believed was an exaggeration.
Rival supplier ScottishPower also made a challenge. Having won plenty of business from customers switching away from Scottish Gas, ScottishPower said it believed there were insufficient numbers of customers remaining to support the company's claim.
Following these complaints, the advertising watchdog launched a probe.
British Gas provided figures that showed the number of new energy customers (signing up for gas and/or electricity) it had registered across the UK during 2005 and so far in 2006 averaged out at two new energy contracts every minute.
But after investigating, the ASA ruled the 60-seconds claim was misleading as it included new customers and not just previous customers returning to British Gas from other providers.
The gas giant acknowledged that the figures included people who had not previously been British Gas customers and could not be described as "switching back to British Gas".
The ASA ruled that the adverts should not be published or broadcast again in those forms, "unless there is sufficient substantiation to back up the claims made" (see Comment, page 19).
British Gas offered to change the tagline to say: "Every 60 seconds, someone switches to British Gas".
Communications: Broadband deals 'failing customers'
The launch of "free" broadband has led to a "customer satisfaction freefall", according to a new report from price-com- parison service Uswitch.
Its findings highlighted how fierce competition and falling prices have not always led to better service over the past six months. Overall, customer contentment levels have fallen by 9 per cent among broadband users and 4 per cent among home phone users.
There are now 11.7 million broadband and 23 million home phone customers in the UK. Many get both services from the same company (often as a condition of the "free" broadband deal), meaning that they are more likely to have cause to speak to their customer services department.
Virgin.net came top in the broadband study, with 85 per cent of its customers satisfied with the overall service they receive. Languishing at the bottom, each on 70 per cent, were Orange and TalkTalk - both of which have launched free broadband products this year.
In the home phone market, Tiscali overtook TalkTalk to take first position with 81 per cent overall customer satisfaction, but both providers have experienced a sharp fall in ratings since March. NTL came bottom, with a third of customers dissatisfied with its phone service.
Uswitch spokesman Steve Weller said the fall in overall satisfaction levels among home phone users was a direct result of the converging market. "The probability that consumers are coming into contact with customer services on a more regular basis has increased significantly as the developments in the industry raise the likelihood of more and more people signing up for bundles with a single provider."
Mr Weller said the arrival of low-cost broadband deals had boosted the number of subscribers by nearly 650,000 since March. "But it is disappointing to see the majority of providers failing to accompany the growth in customer numbers with sufficient growth in customer service operations and the required investment in their technology to ensure they are looking after customer needs."
Consumer trust in suppliers, he added, was at an all-time low.
"The worst-performing category across both the home phone and broadband reports was the lack of certainty that suppliers are ensuring customers are on the best available deal."
Buying property overseas? Check out these hotspots
Bargain Hunter: Exclusive discount on a SmartGlider - a self-balancing electric scooter
Kate Hudson's online sports brand Fabletics drains your account if you don't say 'stop'
House prices plummeting in London's most expensive boroughs, but going up in the suburbs
Peer-to-peer lending rates put Nisas to shame
- 1 Hair loss explained: How and why men go bald
- 2 Game of Thrones season 6: Jon Snow theorists believe the Stark may have a twin sister
- 3 Artist takes LSD, draws herself over different stages of the 9-hour trip to show its effects
- 4 A pint of water every day is the key to losing weight, scientists say
- 5 Russia 'accidentally reveals' number of its soldiers killed in eastern Ukraine
Dresden riots: Protesters in Germany attack refugee buses shouting 'foreigners out'
France train shooting: US soldiers speak of the moment they stopped gunman and 'beat him until he was unconscious'
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn accused of 'deluding' young supporters with 'claptrap'
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith calls for urgent ESA overhaul as part of drive to cut down welfare costs
iJobs Money & Business
£13000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to be part of a ...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Are you passionate about sale...
£25000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A large financial services company...
£20400 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and highly reputable organisat...
Day In a Page
This four-bedroom home has an annexe accessed from the side of the house, with potential for improvement and conversion subject to the necessary permissions.
In the heart of the hamlet of Wardley, this five-bedroom period home offers countryside views and a stylish interior, with original features and open fireplaces.
Offering countryside views and landscaped gardens, this three-bedroom Grade II-listed lodge has a spacious conservatory and a large cellar that could serve as a workshop.
Set in approximately 1.5 acres, this four-bedroom home comes with a second, detached property that's currently used as an annexe.
In the hamlet of Newchurch, this former parish church is now a four-bedroom home complete with clock tower and eyrie.
Offering scenic views from a large balcony and sun terrace, this four-bedroom home has a wraparound garden and a heated swimming pool.
Offering views across the Humber and East Yorkshire Wolds from a glass panelled balcony, this four-bedroom barn-style home befits a life of leisure.
This four-bedroom home offers versatile accommodation with annexe potential; features include a hot tub, sauna and Norwegian BBQ hut.
Well-located for schools, colleges and the town centre, this contemporary thatched cottage offers flexible living space with six bedrooms.
Built in 1907, this four-bedroom Edwardian period home has been refurbished by the current owners, retaining many original period features.
Surrounded by landscaped gardens, this five-bedroom home offers living space across three floors.
This lovely country home in Burnham Market is currently run as a popular holiday cottage, with five en suite bedrooms and colourful gardens.
This three-bedroom 17th-century former village bakery is just a few miles from the East Sussex coast.
Set on a landscaped plot, this light and airy four-bedroom home comes with a log burner in the lounge, a fitted kitchen and an open-plan ground-floor layout.
Set sail for this four-bedroom farmhouse in Cowes. With five acres of land and an indoor pool, this home oozes character. There is even potential to let a one-bedroom annexe.
Built on a former chapel site, this impressive four-bedroom home boasts balconies, stunning views and contemporary modern living.
This three-bedroom house is situated in a quiet mews and set over three floors. Features include glazed staircases and high ceilings.
A period townhouse set over four floors, this five-bedroom home was built in the 18th Century and retains many original features.
With five bedrooms, this spacious home offers beautiful gardens and modern interiors - set within the popular market town of Bingley.
A few miles from the seaside at Perranporth, this four-bedroom farmhouse sits amongst nine acres of idyllic grounds - including a lake and two barns used as holiday lets.
In the pretty market town of Bungay, this grade II-listed Mill House is arranged over four floors, offering four bedrooms and three reception areas.
This first-floor flat comes with two bedrooms, an impressive open-plan reception room and two lovely roof terraces.
This five-bedroom home comes with a range of outbuildings including a large barn which could be converted into a self-contained granny-flat or rental.
Moored at Taggs Island and reached via a pretty garden, this two-bedroom houseboat has a vaulted reception room and skylit garden studio - currently a beauty salon.
On the edge of the city, this six-bedroom home comes with an outdoor swimming pool and a large garage block that has annexe potential.
A contemporary house spread over three storeys, this three-bedroom detached home has large sliding doors that open out to the River Quaggy.
Moored in Chelsea's Cheyne Walk, this houseboat offers two double bedrooms and a teak deck that's ideal for al-fresco dining.
This former village bakery, dating back to the 17th century, is now a three-bedroom detached home just a few miles from the East Sussex coast.
On the picturesque Isle of Man, this four-bedroom character home has a ground-floor shop that's currently run as a newsagents and a flat that would make an ideal holiday let.
In a new collection of flats, this first-floor two-bedroom apartment offers ample entertaining space and a prime view of Furze Green from a private balcony.
This three-bedroom stone-built cottage currently trades as the village store with a restaurant in the annexe and family accommodation on the upper floors.
Previously two semi-detached properties, this five-bedroom home is spread over three floors with a large breakfast kitchen, orangery, office and gym on the second floor.
This five-bedroom home enjoys countryside views over the Blyth estuary to Southwold, offering flexible living space with a ground-floor annexe - ideal for use as a holiday let.
Close to the market town of Eye, this four-bedroom detached home offers a double-height living room which takes the place of the original, 19th-century, chapel nave.
Dating back to the 19th century, this four-bedroom home needs modernising. Spanning three storeys, the red-brick house has a fireplace, a small terrace and a cellar.
Just outside of Cambridge, this single-storey home offers three double bedrooms, a living room with vaulted timber ceiling and ladder steps that lead to a mezzanine study area.
This six-bedroom Georgian home is on three floors with open fireplaces, a two oven Aga, an annexe, and cottage gardens with outbuildings and a car barn.
A former coach house, Glebe Farm Stable is now a three-bedroom cottage with a double car barn, an attached office, kennels and an outbuilding that's currently used as a gym.
Located beside an impressive Victorian viaduct, this four-bedroom home has an open-plan living area that is glazed on two sides, with skylights and high ceilings.
A former furniture workshop, this three-bedroom home has high ceilings and painted brick walls, in a village setting only fifteen miles from the coast.
This five-bedroom stone townhouse features a pine staircase and an Inglenuk fireplace, double doors from the lounge give access to an enclosed courtyard.
This five-bedroom, detached home blends traditional and modern design; the sleek kitchen features a gas hob and oven set within an exposed chimney breast.
Capitalise on the fabulous views of Trevone Bay by taking two homes and creating one spacious boutique B&B. Just a cliff-top walk from Padstow.
Surrounded by woodland, this five-bedroom manor house has plenty of outdoor storage space in the form of three converted loose boxes, two smaller outhouses and a woodstore.
This six-bedroom home is set amongst three acres of grounds. Currently a large family home, Clift Hill has potential to make a B&B or countryside retreat, subject to change of use permissions.
This Grade II-listed three-bedroom home is situated on a private road, just a short walk from the sandy beaches of Frinton-on-Sea.
Less than five miles from Malmesbury, this four-bedroom cottage comes with equestrian facilities and gardens that extend to approximately three acres.
Spanning three storeys, this late-Victorian five-bedroom farmhouse is a spacious family home with a modern interior and B&B potential.
With an original church arch, this triplex one-bedroom church conversion has a light, spacious, feel and comes with a secure off-street parking space.
This recently-refurbished three-bedroom home has bi-folding doors that lead out to a decked seating area - ideal for alfresco dining this summer.