Questions Of Cash: 'NatWest is not willing to support my small business, so I'm moving my account'
Saturday 16 July 2011
Q. I have a NatWest current account that I have used for a few months, from which my car insurance direct debit was paid out each month. When I cancelled my insurance I stopped using the account, which went overdrawn by around £44. I forgot about this as I have never used the account since and did not receive any statements. The account has now incurred £6-per-day charges and I now owe them £750, and this is going up each day. I cannot afford to pay this. The charges seem very unfair for going overdrawn by such a small amount. I am also concerned that the debt will have a knock-on effect on my creditworthiness on my business account, which is also with NatWest. JR, Sale
A. As this column has remarked many times, banks' penalty charges on unauthorised overdrafts are often very high and can escalate to sizeable negative account balances in a short period of time. However, the onus is on customers to manage their accounts properly and you failed to do this.
NatWest says that it has not received a complaint from you and wants you to raise the problem with it directly in the first instance. It also stresses that all customers are sent bank statements on a regular basis. As you say that you cannot afford to repay these penalty charges, we suggest you contact Citizens Advice to assist you in drawing up an income-and-expenditure statement and then to reach agreement on a reasonable settlement with NatWest. The bank points out that NatWest and RBS offer systems of text-based alerts to assist customers to avoid accidentally going overdrawn.
Q. I have banked with NatWest since I started in business as a sole trader more than 15 years ago. Since then, my business has grown substantially, with the bank supporting us throughout with a business overdraft facility.
As I am in the construction industry, there are sometimes cash-flow problems which involve higher short-term demands. These have been supported by NatWest through temporary increases in overdraft limits, or, on occasion, short-term loan facilities.
About 18 months ago, we asked our relationship manager to increase our overdraft from £75,000 to £100,000 to help our cash flow. He increased the overdraft for six months and it became obvious that we required this on a continuing basis. Our cash-flow situation has not changed and we asked for the higher overdraft to be renewed on a permanent basis. The temporary facility ended in April 2011.
Despite NatWest having a fixed and floating charge over the assets of the company – with a value of £235,185 – and a second charge on my house and other securities – which are valued at £2.7m – NatWest has refused to approve the continuation of a £100,000 overdraft and £235,000 long- term loan. The security seems to me to be more than adequate. I even offered to borrow £40,000 on a mortgage on my home to reduce cash-flow requirements. I feel that NatWest is not willing to support small businesses such as mine. NS, Birmingham.
A. We have had several complaints in recent months from people with overdrafts on individual and business accounts on which banks seem to have begun taking a tougher line and several of these criticisms have related to the NatWest division of RBS. With regard to your complaint, RBS says: "We've tried to help the customer over a number of years through temporary credit extensions, but they have consistently failed to fulfil their commitments to the bank. Unfortunately, this has reached unacceptable levels and leaves us with no alternative other than to ask them to seek alternative banking arrangements."
You tell us that you have now reached an acceptable arrangement on lending terms with the Lloyds Banking Group and that you are moving your accounts to them.
Q. After a sale of a house to me had been agreed, the local branch of an estate agency failed to advise me of an offer made by another party, which was accepted. I was then wrongly advised on several occasions that I could not make a further offer. The agency's manager admitted to staff having made mistakes for which they had been disciplined. But the head office denied this and blamed me for the problem.
I eventually bought the home, but had to pay even more in the end. I made a formal complaint to the Property Ombudsman. I was told that his terms of reference allowed him to investigate only one of my four complaints. This he upheld and awarded me a mere £50. This was paltry compared with the £4,500 extra I had to pay because of the agency's errors. I have refused to accept this as a matter of principle. PL, Cheshire.
A. The Property Ombudsman is an industry scheme and not an independent body, backed by statute, as is the case with the Financial Ombudsman. Maurice Hardy was Property Ombudsman when you lodged your complaint, but Christopher Hamer has since taken over the role.
Mr Hamer says: "I should explain that I am not a regulator of the estate-agency industry or a consumer guardian. It is my role to review complaints made by members of the public against member agents on an impartial basis, based on the evidence that is submitted to me, considering an agent's obligations against the requirements of the [Property Ombudsman] code of practice. I am able to provide redress where I am satisfied that the actions of the member agent, in respect of the complaints that I have supported, have disadvantaged a complainant... The reasoning for my predecessor's decision was fully explained within the review... I do not consider that it is appropriate for me to now comment on the details of a case that was closed some time ago."
Questions of Cash cannot give individual advice. But if you have a financial dilemma, we'll do our best to help. Please email us at: questionsofcash@ independent.co.uk.
Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown
Use the new pension freedoms to boost your retirement income
10 tips for taking out a personal loan
The 10 Best money-saving sites
Bank-beating exchange rates on your international payments
Simon Read: Payday loans that are marketed at kids? Why not? They're already brainwashed into wanting products
- 1 2015 General Election: Green party will not appear in TV debate alongside Ukip – says BBC
- 2 Canadian actor punched in face after 'Islamophobia' experiment goes wrong in wake of Ottawa shooting
- 3 Topshop at centre of row over body image as 'shocking' skinny mannequin photo goes viral
- 4 Kentucky gang rape: 15-year-old boy left in critical condition after sexual attack by group at party
- 5 Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Pope Francis declares evolution and Big Bang theory are real and God is not 'a magician with a magic wand'
Huge surge in Ukip support after EU funding row, according to new poll
Ukip ‘exploiting grooming scandal’ to secure party’s first police chief
Nigel Farage: 'There’s nothing wrong with white people blacking up'
Muslims, immigration and teenage pregnancy: British people are ignorant about almost everything
Maureen Lipman says 'she can't vote Labour while Ed Miliband is leader'
iJobs Money & Business
£20000 - £23250 Per Annum pro rata: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pro rata ...
£40 - 48k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Manager to join...
£45,000 - £65,000: Saxton Leigh: Our client is a well-known APAC Corporate and...
£60000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Compensation and Benefits Manager - Compensat...
Day In a Page
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
A three-bedroom, 15th-century cottage with original features in the picturesque village of Sissinghurst
A six-bedroom terraced house with large south-facing roof terrace, cinema room and wine cellar
A new seven-bedroom home built in Queen Anne-style with swimming pool and parkland views in Mortimer
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens
A seven-bedroom Grade II-listed property with a separate self-contained apartment
A five-bedroom Victorian house with three reception rooms and galleried landing, £695,000