David Prosser: Royal Bank of Scotland drops a clanger


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The Independent Online

Some banks really don't help themselves. Royal Bank of Scotland, 83 per cent owned by thetaxpayer, is banning customers with "basic accounts" from using cashpoints operated by other banking groups on the grounds it can't recoup the costs it incurs when they do so.

These accounts were the products developed by the banks when the Government told it to tackle financial exclusion. They don't come with overdrafts, but give people on low incomes access to basic financial services. Crucially, though, they don't make the banks any money.

RBS says providing access to other banks' ATMs is now unsustainable. Well, maybe the costs would be a bit more sustainable if the bank hadn't had to put £850m aside to cover the cost of sorting out customers who had duff payment protection insurance policies stuffed down their throats.

Seriously though, the savings to be made by withdrawing this service from a few thousand customers must be tiny – particularly compared to the cost of the further ill-will RBS is generating instead. And all the banks have the same problem – surely it would be possible for them to come to an arrangement whereby they all waive ATM charges for each other's basic bank account holders?

These customers may not be profitable but many of them do pay tax. They might have expected a bit more from a bank they helped to save from oblivion.