Nationwide axes pledge to treat all customers equally

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Nationwide, the UK's largest building society, yesterday ditched its pledge to provide the same deal for all of its mortgage customers, only five years after it first launched the policy.

As of Friday, the group will charge customers who are remortgaging more than those who are taking out their first mortgage or moving home.

Although Nationwide was quick to point out that new and existing remortgage customers and new and existing first time buyers will still get the same deals, mortgage brokers hit out at the lender, accusing it of performing an "amazing U-turn".

Ray Boulger, the senior technical manager at Charcol, said thousands of customers who borrowed because of the "fair lending" policy would now find that they would not be able to get the same good rates as new buyers when they came to remortgage.

"Many of Nationwide's borrowers are likely to have been attracted to them partly because of the key USP they have been promoting for years - recently with some excellent and witty adverts starring Mark Benton as a bank clerk in a competitor bank criticising other lenders for reserving their best deals for 'brand new customers'," he said. "Nationwide claimed to pride itself on not discriminating against loyal customers. There can't be much pride left after today."

Stuart Bernau, Nationwide's executive director, said it was changing its rates to "achieve greater flexibility".

"By making these changes we will ... be better placed to offer all our mortgage customers exactly what they want," he said.