Banks will lose customers if they charge for current accounts

12 November 2007
Eighty per cent of people would ditch their bank if it started charging current account fees, according to research from Which?

In a poll of more than a thousand people, Which? discovered that eight out of ten would consider writing providers if they started charging for every-day banking and 70 per cent said that they felt it would be unfair for banks to start charging extra for a current account.

The survey also revealed that if banks were to start charging doe current accounts, 90 per cent of consumers would expect the Government to make sure the fees were not excessive.

“This is a clear shot across the bows for the banks – consumers don't want to be charged for their current account and will vote with their feet if their bank introduces a monthly or annual fee,” said Which? personal finance campaigner Doug Taylor.

“Banks shouldn't need to be forced to treat their customers fairly. Although our research shows that customers would support government intervention to make sure banks don't overcharge for current accounts, we would be very disappointed if it came to that.

The research follows reports that some banks have said they will have to start charging for current accounts if the high court rules that unauthorised bank charges are unfair

Earlier this year, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) said that many of the fines banks had been charging customers who had gone over their overdraft limit - up to £30 in many cases - were unfair.

The OFT is now seeking legal clarification on the issue – the high court case’s decision is due to be made in the new year, and banks are now saying that if the ruling doesn’t go their way, they will have to start charging for normal bank services that have always been free in the past.

But Which? says the banks have brought it on themselves; “Banks only have themselves to blame for the damage that the overdraft charges saga has done to their reputation, “ continued Mr Taylor, “Which? urges the banking sector to put its customers first.”

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