Simon Read: I'd like to claim a victory for RBS's move to scrap teaser rates, but I just don't trust it to play fair
New RBS boss Ross McEwan was totally frank on Thursday when he unveiled the taxpayer-owned bank's latest set of results. "We are the least trusted company in the least trusted sector of the economy," he admitted.
A brave move? Not really. Everyone knows that RBS's reputation has hit rock-bottom in the past few years. If senior management hasn't been busy destroying the business, a series of IT cock-ups has been destroying the bank's relationship with long-suffering customers.
And let's not ignore the fact that RBS, which also owns NatWest and Ulster Bank, made a record loss of £8.2bn in 2013. (To fully understand how much that is, it may help see it written out in full. Here you go - £8,200,000,000. Wow!)
But now Mr McEwan says he wants to change things. And he has correctly identified trust as being key to rebuilding the bank's battered brand.
How can it rebuild trust among customers? Among a whole range of moves he says should help improve relationships, Mr McEwan plans to scrap teaser rates, a move I've long been calling for.
The main problem with them is that they sucker us in with tasty interest, and then leave us languishing in a pathetic account when the upfront offer ends.
He also plans to get rid of introductory rates. These are cracking deals offered to new customers to entice them to join the bank. The problem with them is that they penalise loyal customers who miss out on all the best deals. That makes them unfair, so outlawing them is also a pleasing move.
Another departure is that the bank will stop offering zero per cent balance transfer deals. It currently has a 28-month offering, so this is a major departure. But it's also progress.
The problem with zero per cent deals is that there is little inducement to reduce the debt. So people go from year to year, switching from deal to deal, and actually adding to their debt by paying a transfer fee of up to 3 per cent each time they switch.
When announcing the ending of zero per cent transfer deals Mr McEwan stated: "We will not be in the business of trapping people in debts they cannot afford."
For all these changes I applaud the bank. If rivals follow then we could actually get back to a much fairer banking system where customer service is more important than best-buy deals. The problem is I don't yet believe Mr McEwan. I've seen too many similar statements from bosses of big firms to swallow what may be just a load of PR guff.
The bank hopes than by 2020 it will have reversed its position as Britain's most despised bank. By then it hopes to be "the number one bank for customer service and the most trusted bank in the UK".
That is six years away. Right now I'm a long way from trusting the bank and I won't change my mind easily. I will give it six years to put things right and start playing fair with customers. But you can rest assured I'll be watching the bank closely and reporting back on any future unfairness or dodgy dealings.
Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown
It scooped up an unprecedented 11 Academy Awards when it was first remade in 1959
Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas
- 1 iPhone 6 review: bigger, thinner, faster, brighter - Apple proves you can make the best better
- 2 Sports Direct security guard allegedly banned Jewish schoolboys and told them: 'No Jews, no Jews'
- 3 Pakistani passenger power forces two politicians off plane
- 4 Say yes to 'no-poo': It's been three years since I stopped washing my hair
- 5 John Travolta addresses former pilot's gay romance allegations publicly for the first time: 'That was the lowest I'd ever felt'
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Scottish independence: Yes campaign feels the heat as Alex Salmond's NHS claims come under furious attack
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'
iJobs Money & Business
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: The SThree group is a world lea...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Real Staffing are currently lo...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35,000 first year: SThree: The SThree group i...
£20 - 24k (Uncapped Commission - £35k Year 1 OTE): Guru Careers: We are seekin...
Day In a Page
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
A six-bedroom farmhouse with five acres of land in a former cloth-making village
A secluded seven-bedroom detached house with large private garden, £490,000
A three-bedroom cottage overlooking Sarratt village green with open fires and solid oak floors
A three-bedroom maisonette flat in a Grade I-listed, Georgian townhouse in a sought-after location
A one-bedroom apartment located within a private gated development, north of Turnham Green
Look forward to a brighter future at two-bedroom Sunny Cottages, ideal for Londoners looking to downsize
A three-bedroom red-brick cottage with outbuildings and pretty gardens, £200,000
This three-bedroom flat within a former textile factory spans the corner of the fourth floor and has a balcony