‘Fairness’ becomes the latest excuse to shun customers

Aug 6, 2014   //   by Keith McDonald   //   Banking and Savings Accounts, Latest Product Updates  //  Comments Off on ‘Fairness’ becomes the latest excuse to shun customers

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Many of the double-decker buses shooting past our office windows are promoting NatWest’s latest boast about simple, fair products.

It should feel uplifting, but it doesn’t. The problem is that ‘fairness’ has become the latest excuse to give consumers a raw deal.

NatWest and its parent bank, RBS, made a stand earlier this year by removing all introductory offers on savings accounts, credit cards, and so forth.

No more balance transfer cards with 0% offers. No savings accounts with ‘teaser’ rates.

Fairness is all well and good – but what good does this actually do? All in all, it’s making things worse, not better.

The bank moved three million ISA savers from old accounts to a newer deal. But it’s now slashed the rate on its instant access ISA to just 0.75%.

Those who invest more than £25,000 see an even larger cut. They now receive just 1.00% compared to 1.50% previously. The move sends the ISA into the bottom half of the market.

Now, Barclays has got in on the act. It is set to simplify its range in the autumn by closing 11 old cash ISAs that are already closed to new customers and transferring those customers across to the Instant Access ISA.

Of the 2.3 million customers that will be moved, 1.6 million of them – over two-thirds – will receive a worse rate.

The bank’s head of savings, Lee Chiswell, said that the changes would “make it easier for our customers to understand their products and easier for staff to serve them.”

But it’s downright rotten that delivering ‘understandable’ products means poorer conditions for millions of savers.

Consumers continue to be punished for Government schemes that prioritised the housing market over savings and the vast sums of money still being paid out in redress for past and present scandals.

The idea that banks are using ‘fairness’ to dress up their latest round of cuts is, quite frankly, deplorable.

They could learn a thing or two from TSB, which launched as a standalone bank last year.

The bank has modelled itself on transparency, launching an array of educational material to educate customers about how it funds its activities.

Though the bank’s income is supported by a mortgage book on loan from Lloyds, its current account offer is one of the best on the market, with no introductory offers in sight.

At least there’s an attempt to match principles with decent products, which is more than can be said for elsewhere.

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