Santander has this week launched a great new regular saver account paying a cracking five per cent. But it has a rotten secret. After a year the rate slumps to a pathetic 0.25 per cent.
The email telling me about the new deal mentioned the five per cent rate three times, including in the header. It mentioned that “new and existing Santander customers can benefit” from the new fixed rate. It also mentioned that after 12 months the account will change to an Everyday Saver.
But there was no actual mention of the paltry rate that customers would “benefit” from after a year. To find that out took some time. First I had to go to Santander’s website and then click on “Cash Isas & Savings”.
On the next page I had to click again, this time to “Find out more” about savings accounts. Yet again I had to click to “Find out more” about the Everyday Saver account. Only then was I presented with the promise that I could “earn a rate of 0.25%”.
Now that information was only three clicks away, but in my view, that was three clicks too far. You’d almost think that the Spanish-owned bank was keen to hide from customers the rate that was actually paid on the account.
Actually, I think that’s probably a certainty. Of course it’s always possible to find out facts, but firms make it as difficult as possible for us to discover the actual terms and conditions of their offers.
I think that stinks. Introductory offers from banks and building societies are just sneaky marketing tricks to persuade unsuspecting people into switching their hard-earned savings into what will prove in the long-term to be a rubbish rate.
Regular switchers will say it’s up to people to ensure they’re not ripped off by such deals. I disagree. It’s time firms published the paltry rates they offer as prominently as the attractive short-term headline offers.
The advertising should read something like this: “Santander’s new account pays a pathetic 0.25 per cent but an attractive five per cent for the first year.” That’s still tempting but not so misleading.