Banking customers divided over 'unfair' bank charges

29 May 2008 / by Joy Tibbs
According, there is division of opinion over the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) 'unfair' bank charges case, as almost a third of survey respondents said they did not want to see the back of unauthorised overdraft charges.

Its research shows that 30 per cent of people think unauthorised overdraft charges – which can be up to £39 a time – should remain in place. The main reason behind this is that those that have been unaffected by bank charges are concerned that they may have to start paying for banking if the case goes against the banks. Approximately 20 per cent of respondents had never paid a fee.

The case, which has been presented at the High Court, has so far ruled that the fees are not penalty charges and that they are explained to customers. However, it has questioned whether the fee amounts are fair. The banks continue to argue that the charges are justified and have launched an appeal against the charges that are being assessed for fairness.

And has raised concerns that if unauthorised overdraft charges are eradicated, the banks' revenues will be severely impacted. As a result, they may choose to impose banking charges for all account holders.

Company founder, Sean Gardner, said: "Customers who have never paid a fee for an unauthorised overdraft understandably take a different view from those who have.

"People who've paid charges are also understandably keen to get their money back and are convinced the banks have been unfair.

"The worry, however, is that the banks have a lot to lose if the case goes against them and if they lose they will look to get their money back. We'll get rid of one set of charges only to be stung with a whole other set of charges."

Thousands of people have already managed to successfully reclaim bank charges, and many consumer groups, like are encouraging people to continue claiming back bank charges despite the FSA's freeze until the outcome of the legal process.

© Fair Investment Company Ltd