Simon Read: They do what they want. It's time to bring banks to heel

 

I wrote earlier this week of my anger at the banks and building societies that rip us off by quietly reducing the interest rates on deposit accounts.

I reminded long-term readers of my rage on discovering that my own savings account had been changed behind my back to pay interest of 0.1 per cent.

So I'm glad the City watchdog is finally taking action about the shabby practice. Millions of savers have been hit as big banks deliberately penalise loyalty by paying peanuts.

You may recall last weekend that I reported on the experiences of Independent reader James Simpson, whose Royal Bank of Scotland Isa had its interest rate slashed.

James's tongue-in-cheek proposal of "keeping my money in a box under my bed" was then taken up by another reader. But Robert Johnson went further: "Why don't we all put our savings under the bed? Just temporarily. It would make more than the banks sit up."

I agreed. And so do many of you. So perhaps we organise a day of protest around the time of the next election by withdrawing our mouldering savings? Maybe we should arrange for a giant bed in, say, Trafalgar Square, so we have a potent image for the protest.

In the meantime, another reader writes in with a similar tale of savings woe – and a warning. "The banks try to rob us at every turn," says Stewart Mowatt, who wants to draw your attention to what he thinks is one of the tricks employed by the banks to legitimise their actions.

"A friend of mine who used to work in a bank had customers complaining from time to time that their accounts were now attracting a derisory rate and that they had never been informed of the change," he reports.

"Often, it transpired that the customers, as so many of us do, had ticked the box on a communication from the bank to say that they did not wish to receive offers, information and the like from the bank. Checking this was the first reaction of the bank to any complaint. The bank felt that this discovery absolved them from responsibility for their actions," Stewart says.

In reality, as he then goes on to point out, there should be a clear distinction between advertising communications and essential information relevant to your accounts.

"The moral would seem to be not to tick such boxes and elect to receive all communications and read them, however dull," he advises.

Given the amount of marketing guff spouted by banks, this could indeed be a tedious process. However, it really shouldn't be necessary. If banks are failing to let savers know that their accounts are now rubbish and offering paltry interest rates, they should be forced to do so.

Even better, they should be forced to stop the odious practice of quietly reducing rates to almost nothing.

Your guide to the new age of pensions

From next April the pension rules are being relaxed so that people are no longer forced to buy an annuity with their retirement savings. But what do the rules mean for us and what should we be doing now?

I know that many readers still feel confused about the new opportunities, so I've made a video with the pensions expert Alan Higham, head of retirement savings at Fidelity Worldwide Investments, to find out what we need to know about the new world of pensions.

You can watch the video at the Independent website now by going to ind.pn/1jxgkp3.

We are planning more video guides in the coming months, so do let me know if there are any subjects you'd like us to cover.

s.read@independent.co.uk

Twitter: @simonnread

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Sport
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
sport
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

    £600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

    The benefits of being in Recruitment at SThree...

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: SThree, International Recruitme...

    Test Analyst - UAT - Credit Risk

    £280 - £300 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Test Analyst, Edinburgh, Credit Ris...

    Trainee Recruitment Consultants - Banking & Finance

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

    Day In a Page

    Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

    The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

    What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
    Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

    Finding the names for America’s shame

    The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
    Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

    Inside a church for Born Again Christians

    As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
    Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

    Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

    Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
    Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

    Incredible survival story of David Tovey

    Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little