Sam Dunn: Give us our money or get taken to court
One reader who threatened to take her bank to court got £64 back in six weeks
Sunday 14 January 2007
So, in the second week of 2007, which of your brave New Year's resolutions are you still pursuing?
Perhaps the idea of jogging every workday at lunch has been quietly revised to Mondays and Thursdays only, or the blanket ban on chocolate bars temporarily lifted.
Or maybe that resolve to fight off the financial flab and overhaul your personal finances has weakened.
The application to switch your current account lies half filled and your hunt for a better- paying savings account or cheaper mortgage has got no further than a cursory glance at the "best buy" tables on page 22.
If your determination to sort out your finances has been stifled by the mid-January torpor, let me rouse you from the sofa - it looks as if the odds of a healthy financial return are stacked in your favour.
Changing the provider of your mortgage and credit card will produce the usual benefits of a cheaper deal. But you might also find that taking your bank on over punitive current account penalty fees reaps dividends too.
Over the next three months, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is analysing current account charges of up to £39 levied by banks and lenders, and will then announce whether these are fair - and if not, by how much they should be slashed.
The OFT's argument - rightly - rests on errant consumers being asked to pay a fine that reflects the true cost to the bank of their transgression.
It decided last year that credit card providers were unfairly levying penalty fees of around £25 for missed card repayments; £12 is now the limit.
If the OFT were to draw similar conclusions about current accounts, banks would lose another giant slice of income worth up to £4.7bn.
This is where you - and your renewed drive to shake up your finances - come in.
The spectre of the OFT investigation appears to have sparked a discernible change in attitude towards consumers at a handful of banks.
A number of readers report that their efforts to claim back high bank charges - as encouraged by, among others, the Which? consumer body - have met with astonishing, speedy success. One reader who threatened to take the bank to the small claims court, over a £25 charge from 2002, lodged her complaint only six weeks ago.
She received a cheque in the post last week for this amount plus interest (around £9) and a sum to cover the cost of the small claims court application (£30).
This result is not unusual.
Terrified of going to court - and facing the difficulty of proving to a judge that their charges are fair - many banks are instead prepared to "settle" the dispute quietly.
That it takes the threat of legal action to spur a bank into coughing up is no surprise, but it's a tactic that is yielding rewards for plenty of consumers.
Anybody objecting to the size of their current account charges, and who is prepared to invest the time and effort to take on their bank, should consider having a go: www.which.co.uk has plenty of useful information.
A sense of desperation is pervading banks over current account default charges.
Extra pressure was applied late last year by Walter Merricks, the Financial Ombudsman, who made noises about an investigation after noticing that banks were dealing with these complaints in an inconsistent way.
It's not often that banks find themselves vulnerable to consumers, so be bold and brash: it's time to get one back.
Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown
Simon Read: There may be trouble ahead for cohabiting couples who don’t make a will
Why the City Watchdog is concerned with the credit card industry
Money Insider: Would £150 make you switch banks?
Bargain Hunter: Find the deals that have real value beneath the Black Friday hype
Gold-plated pensions – the key to retirement freedom?
- 1 I'm A Celebrity 2014: Jungle security stepped up after murder and 'suspicious death' near to camp
- 2 To help fuel their propaganda machine against the poor, our government has now decided to redefine the word 'welfare'
- 3 Jeremy Hunt: 'I took my children to A&E because I didn't want to wait for GP appointment'
- 4 Girl, 7, gets Tesco to remove 'stupid' sign suggesting superheroes are 'for boys'
- 5 This letter from a reader explains why women can’t play football
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Exclusive: UK approved £7m Israeli arms sales in six months before Gaza conflict
iJobs Money & Business
£16000 - £18000 per annum: Langley James : IT Support; Helpdesk, VMware; Manch...
£35000 - £450000 per annum + £3k car, £70k ote: h2 Recruit Ltd: Do you want to...
£Attractive Package: Citifocus Ltd: Prestigious financial institution seeks to...
£Negotiable: Citifocus Ltd: Experienced operational risk professional with ban...
Day In a Page
A deceptively spacious, beautifully presented Georgian home with 3000sq ft of living space and five reception rooms
A five-bedroom Victorian home with four receptions, superb gardens and paddock in Pembury
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