James Moore: Consumers have reached the end of the line

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The Independent Online

Any hope of redress for the hundreds of thousands people who complained about allegedly unfair overdraft charges looks to lie with just how much influence Vince Cable can wield over the new government.

While the Office of Fair Trading has said it is "monitoring" the situation, having lost the court case over the issue of unauthorised overdraft charges, it appears to be powerless to take any action. The watchdog is planning to launch a probe into barriers to entry to the banking industry, but that's highly unlikely to do much to help those people who complained to the banks over the fees they were forced to pay.

If complaints are rejected – and the vast majority of them will be – there is always the option of lodging a complaint with the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). But it is not easy to see how that body could intervene without going beyond its powers, unless there have been incidences where the banks have pushed people into financial hardship and then dealt with these situations poorly.

There are probably rather more of these scenarios than meet the eye, given that banks' trite homilies about taking customer service seriously are rarely borne out by the reality when people have the temerity to question the way the way they have been treated. The trouble is that many of them won't ever approach the FOS, if they have even heard of the organisation.

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