Simon Read: It may be called Enhanced or Classic. But a better word is Poor for the way banks treat current account customers


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The Independent Online

One of my regular correspondents, Robert Johnson from Airdrie, writes in with a moan about the TSB: "The '200-year-old new bank' created by Rev Henry Duncan for hard-working local people has just informed us that, as of early November, the interest rate on credit balances in its Enhance current account will be cut by 50 per cent from 3 per cent to 1.5 per cent.

"My wife and I opened these accounts as a means of making up for poor rates in savings accounts. But, as soon as I can find a 0.1 per cent better rate elsewhere, it will be goodbye from both of us to the TSB."

He believes that the bank – which recently split from its former parent Lloyds and floated on the stock market – is now more focused on serving shareholders than customers. "The Rev is probably turning in his grave," he writes.

The bank has, as you would expect, a different explanation. "Following the launch of our Classic Plus account in March, Enhance was removed from sale for new customers," TSB says. "It was a product we inherited from Lloyds bank."

(That's a great bit of passive blame-sharing from the TSB, by the way.)

The bank continues: "Enhance is still a good product for many people and compares favourably with competitor products. However, we have already seen many of our Enhance customers move to our Classic Plus account, which offers a flat 5 per cent interest rate up to £2,000 and is accessible to more people – and we expect others will do the same."

So the account is no longer available and the bank offers a much better one, it claims. But then it appears to be penalising people who don't want to switch to the Classic Plus account, maybe because it doesn't suit their needs so well.

There's nothing new in this behaviour. Banks have long been in the business of launching attractive accounts and then gradually turning them into zombie accounts by cutting the benefits or the interest rate paid.

That seems to be exactly what's happening to anyone with an Enhance account. If you have one too, it's clearly time to switch before you're penalised even further.

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