Banking charges that could just break the bank for customers

26 March 2004
"Local banks are still ripping off customers by charging massive amounts for their services."

That's the opinion of Alasdair McDonnell, SDLP's deputy leader who has called for an enquiry by regulation authorities.

"Northern Ireland consumers have been suffering overcharging by local banks for years and it is time that regulation authorities stepped in to investigate local practices."

This follows findings from a study undertaken by Natwest Building Society into the service charges local banks are levying on customers in Northern Ireland. These excessive charges are for routine services, such as setting up standing orders and direct debits.

Mr McDonnell went on to say, "Occasionally people do need to use their overdraft and it is unacceptable that such severe penalties are levelled at some customers."

He urged consumers to compare rates at other providers to ensure they received the best deal possible: "I would call on consumers here to take a careful look at the amount of charges imposed by their bank and to vote with their feet if necessary. Shop around and compare different bank accounts. Changing your bank may seem difficult but it could reap significant savings."