Banks brought to account over charges

PERHAPS more through luck than judgment, but more likely because I m such a skinflint that I can t bear to give money away unnecessarily, over the years I have accrued very few bank charges. You know the scenario – a businesslike letter from the mighty fi

PERHAPS more through luck than judgment, but more likely because I'm such a skinflint that I can't bear to give money away unnecessarily, over the years I have accrued very few bank charges.

You know the scenario - a businesslike letter from the mighty financial institution which makes billions of pounds profit a year from customers arrives in the post with the information that you have gone 57p over your authorised overdraft and they are charging you £25 for the privilege.

Or you may have overlooked ensuring there was quite enough in your account to cover a direct debit - and a £30 'fine' is whacked on.

The number of such charges which have come my way could probably be counted on the fingers of one hand.


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But I know that many people - more so the younger ones than the old ones like me - for whom financial pressures are great, find it nigh on impossible to avoid such charges sometimes. And for some of those, it is almost as if they accept that charges are a way of life. But I can't imagine that many would agree the level of charging which has been imposed for years is right or fair.

So I am glad that someone finally had the temerity to challenge such charges - and win their argument.

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Last year there was a ruling that many of the charges which the banks, building societies and other financial companies made were "excessive" which meant they were charging way over the amount it was actually costing them to deal with an unauthorised overdraft or failed direct debit transaction.

And that, I'm pleased to see, has opened the floodgates of claims from people who have been ripped off for years.

They are deservedly asking to have back the money unfairly taken from them.

Some who got fatter on the excessive charges have been giving them back without too much of a whimper but others are putting up strong resistance to their customers' claims.

There is talk of them employing lawyers to come up with all sorts of arguments aimed at not paying the money back or only part of it.

Legal eagles have pledged to put up the stiffest resistance to meeting claims, saying they will fight them out in court if necessary.

But it is all balderdash, I understand. Customers have been made to show an iron determination in pursuing their claims but the word is that when it comes to the crunch the lawyers shy away - not one case has actually made it to court, I am told.

So the message to all those people who should get their money back is simple - don't be put off. There's a pot of gold waiting for you, go get it.

And in future, try to be like me and not incur charges, for you can be sure that banks etc will be intent on setting as high a 'fair' level as possible.

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