£800 in bank charges for student who went 8p overdrawn

24 July 2008 / by Rachel Mason
A student claims she has been charged more than £800 in bank fees for going just 8p overdrawn. Laura Gibson told The Times that Lloyds TSB has now threatened her with legal action if she doesn't pay up.

Back in September, Ms Gibson, who is due to start studying for her A Levels in a few months time, made a purchase of £60 which put her 8p in the red and she immediately received a fine for £65.

She did not clear the overdraft, so in October, she was charged a further £30. In December, she got more bank charges, this time of £60 and then in January, she was charged £78. By May, Lloyds TSB - which, according to a recent Moneynet.co.uk survey has the highest unauthorised fees of all the banks - had started charging £20 a day.

Ms Gibson, from Cheltenham, claims that she has already paid more than £300 in bank charges and says the way she has been treated is 'disgraceful'. Describing her ordeal as 'an absolute nightmare' Ms Gibson claims that the stress has contributed to a nervous breakdown.

She told The Times, "Lloyds TSB have been harassing me by telephone and by mail, putting pressure on me to pay this money back. I feel that it is morally irresponsible that the bank can charge people such ridiculous amounts of money especially when some of the charges amount to more than my income each week."

But a spokesman for Lloyds TSB told The Times that the charges that Ms Gibson has incurred are not for a one-off unplanned overdraft position of 8p. "They relate to an unplanned overdraft of varying amounts dating back to September 2007."

The spokesman continued, "In situations where there are extenuating circumstances, such as illness, that may affect a customer's ability to manage their finances, we can consider waiving part or all of the charges that they have incurred. We will be contacting Ms Gibson again to discuss her personal circumstances."

Ms Gibson's case is just further bad press for the banks over the whole unfair bank charges issue which has been ongoing for more than two years.

Earlier this year, following a successful case against banks on credit card fees, the OFT took eight of the big banks to the High Court to get a legal ruling over the fairness of bank charges. The OFT won the first leg, with Justice Andrew Smith ruling that bank charges could be judged for fairness. The next step is for a ruling to be made on what a fair charge is. But, the whole case has been held up because the banks involved appealed against the ruling.

At the start of the case, back in January, the FSA decided to put a freeze on people claiming back unfair fees until a legal ruling was made. This freeze was due to end on July 26th, but on Monday, the FSA extended it for a further six months, which aggravated many consumer groups, with Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com describing the decision as "a kick in the teeth to the millions trying to reclaim."

"The original hold was installed as a test case was announced, because of apparent "inconsistencies, even though the enormous majority of people were being paid out by the banks," he said. "Yet now, a year on, the test case decision is out and there's a legally binding, precedent-setting court decision, so why not allow people the chance to ask for their money back?"

Even though unfair bank charges claims are not being currently dealt with, you can still start the process of reclaiming yours:

Reclaim Bank Charges

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