Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Why Most Banks Will Survive The Meltdown

Abbey National PLC
PO Box 1109

25th September 2008

Dear Sirs,

Re: Account 12345678

I doubt you’ll remember me but I last wrote to you on 3rd September 2007. My knickers were all in a twist over your excessive bank account charges. In fact, I got so wound up by your habit of fining me hundreds of pounds over several years (although you might consider it my habit of going overdrawn by dozens of pounds over the same period) that I wound up being interviewed on Channel 4 news, vindictive little bastard that I am. You may also like to refer to The Times of August 2007 where I was afforded the opportunity to bitch about Abbey like one of those blonde LA valley girls slagging off their girlfriends.

Anyway, let’s get to the point. I no longer bank with you. We used to bank furiously together but you took advantage of me so I left in disgust. Nonetheless, I kept my account open in case of an emergency.

That emergency appeared this July. I had dared to treat myself to a holiday away from my desk, and needed to buy a return ticket from Eastern Europe. The Easyjet website seemed to dislike my current visa card, so I was forced to blow the cobwebs off my Abbey card and transferred the princely sum of Fifty Pounds Sterling into my dormant account. To my infinite pleasure I discovered that the card was accepted by Stelios. I believe I even allowed 24 hours to elapse before booking this ticket, but I can’t be sure. Yes, I’m aware that this little titbit of information will be all you need to justify your exaggerated spiteful charges, but what the hell. I’m an honest kinda guy.

So… bought the ticket, went on holiday, now bitching to you.

I received my monthly statement from Abbey tonight. It says:

14th Aug; Balance brought forward from previous statement: -£0.58
4th Sep; Unauthorised overdrft/ Overdrft monthly fee: £25.00
Instant overdraft request fee – Paid item card
Payment to Easyjet Air EDN5TZF000000: £35.00
13th Sep; Balance carried forward to next statement: -£60.58

Needless to say, I was a little shocked, so I immediately called Abbey’s call centre in India. (As an aside, I was actually able to cook - ok, warm up - then eat a foul Tescos meatfeast pizza throughout my time spent on hold. I dearly wish I could tell you I ate a green salad followed by grilled chicken and vegetables, but I was hungry and skint, and the pizza was cheap. I’m sorry.)

The first lady I spoke to, post-cheese on disc, cut me off. I didn’t swear (cross my heart and hope to die) but I did raise my voice a bit. The increase in decibels occurred when I said Abbey’d fined me £25 and she pointed out that I'd missed the £35 charge too.

So I set the phone back down and ran off to check this account online. Clear as day, it showed that I’d transferred £50.00 into this account, and that Easyjet went on to deduct £50.58. I’m still not sure how. A hidden charge, maybe? Nonetheless, I had gone, blindly unaware and unknowingly, 58p into the red. So you've fined me £60.00.

To recap: I accidentally get overdrawn by 58 pence, and you charge me SIXTY POUNDS. That’s one pound per penny, plus a pound for each finger you’re sticking up at me.

Anyhoo, I get back on the phone to India for a second time where I spoke to a charming young lady. She sympathised about as much as a young women in the Asian subcontinent could with irate British folk 8,000 miles away. But sympathetic she was. She even rescinded the £35 fine as a ‘goodwill gesture’ but sadly she could do nothing about the other £25; that would have to be filed under ‘Tough’ - I had broken the rules, and thus I had to pay. She also advised me that if I didn’t cough up the remaining £25.58, I’d be fined another £25 in a week’s time.

So to recap again: I accidentally get overdrawn by 58 pence two months ago. I discover this today and in eleven days time, had I not called, I’d be EIGHTY-FIVE POUNDS in the hole. Eighty-five pounds, because of 58p.

That’s £85 in fines.

Due to being 58 pence overdrawn.

So here’s the deal: Remove this final £25 charge. Promise not to add a new £25 charge come a week on Monday. Then give these ridiculously over-the-top charges to Ms Ambika Babu at your Indian call centre. She is probably paid a pittance anyway (value for money for Abbey though). She deserves it for having to deal with Brits made puce with anger by Abbey, and who are hopefully Guardian readers and don’t get all disturbingly Daily Mail down the phone.

And finally, I want an apology. I don’t want a pre-printed letter of generic contrition. I want a proper apology, a sincere and earnest one, for fining me so extortionately over pennies - and don’t you dare mention ensuring I have the correct funds in my account, or that these are standard charges for breaking your rules. Seriously. Don’t. I’ve heard it all far too many times before and I’m well aware of it. Need I remind you that it is due to the unfairness of these standard charges that this matter has gone to court in the first place?

I shall be sending a copy of this letter to Banco Santander Chief Executive Antonio Osorio for a laugh. He can set fire to it so he can light his Havana whilst reclined on his yacht as it bobs idly in the warm waters of the Caribbean.

In summary:

It was an accident.

It was 58 pence.

You should be ashamed of yourselves.

Yours sincerely,

Blah blah blah.


Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

Oh god. I got angry just reading that. Abbey have done exactly the same to my sister and she is in the process of trying to claim back her charges for the past 7 years or whatever it is, and it's running way into the hundreds. She's just waiting for the legislation to go through banning them from doing this shit.

Abbey are a joke, and as I used to work somewhere that dealt with these sort of complaints, I know there are thousands and thousands of other people getting completely ripped off for going pennies into the red.

I'd love to see the reply to that letter, but I have a feeling I'd be disappointed if I expected anything other than an automated letter.

Anonymous said...

I could call the bank again, or perhaps even go to into the local branch. If the person you are speaking to can't help you, ask to speak to their manager. Be persistant and try to keep calm. I've had all sorts of bank and credit fees waved by just asking nicely. Godd luck

Complex Girl said...

Amazingly, since the bank charges thing going to court I am sure that Abbey have put their charges up! Before you would get a £25 charge for the overdrawn transaction - now you get the £25 charge PLUS a £35 charge for being over your overdraft! WTF!! I know this, as have £60 of bank charges going out of my account in 2 days time. They better find in my favour for the £1800 claim I have, and then I'll be submitting a new one for the charges since! Bastards!

Great letter.

Trixie said...

You think that's bad? Back in February, I went £1.35 in the red, expected the £25 overdraft fee, but they didn't notify me about it till April, and instead of charging me the one fee they started charging me $5 a DAY for the overdraft, when they first told me this, I was fined £150! I've been complaining to them since, letters going back and forth, (all generated by them of course) and it's now up to £600! They've finally put the charges on hold until this freaking court case is settled. (this is Alliance and leicsester) They aren't getting a PENNY out of me!

Angelalala said...

Ah, it's just like the old days of hilarious ranting! That little holiday has done you the world of good.

Dom said...

Please tell me you've actually posted that and it's not just a tirade on the internetwebz to help vent your anger. Keep us up to date with how you do, and if nothing else the ire caused by Abbey has lead to my amusement via your excellent letter which is worth £25* if you ask me :)

* Your £25, not mine :D

Girl Friday said...

I do wonder if the people on the other end of that phone have experienced any of this personally? I called Lloyds last week as I had gone £1.50 overdrawn and wanted to see what I could do as I was out of the country and couldn't make a deposit for at least a week. The guy basically said, mmm, tough situation isn't it? Well I can't do anything, but I can tell you that if you don't put money in today, you will be charged £6 each day that you are overdrawn. I kind of sighed and said, ok, thanks. He says, Yeah sure, no problem, my pleasure. Anything else I can do for you?

If he had been in front of me, I likely would be in court today pleading temporary insanity or something for grievous bodily harm.

The Unbearable Banishment said...

Surely you are exercising your improvisational writing skills, aren’t you? This didn’t actually happen, did it? No? Well, thank heavens for that. Things like this just don’t occur in a civilized society. Try something more believable next time.

i am not your freud said...

he's not excercising his improvisational writing skills... and don't call him shirley.

fweng this is ridiculous beyond belief. i don't understand why anyone would do business with these people

fwengebola said...

PDEWYMO ~ I'm also waiting to hear if I get my 100s of squids worth of overcharged fines back, but I doubt it. It all happened a long time ago, and I doubt banks'll care less, or get hammered by the courts. But I am intrigued to see what they write to me.
Anon ~ I've had charges waived too, but I normally just put stuff in writing.
CG ~ They're utter scum. I don't mind being charged (well, in this case, I do: 58p???), but their charges are so absurdly, disproportionately high. £60's ridiculous. I think they believe they can get away with it.
Trix ~ What the fuck? That's just as bad! Write to them some more! Kick up an almighty fuss. In fact, write to the CEO. In my case above, it's worked. They've cancelled all my charges.
Ang ~ I feel sooo much angrier.
Dom ~ Erm, all real, I'm afraid. I try my hardest not to make stuff up. That's for my so-called 'novel', and frankly, it ain't as interesting as real life.
GF ~ What a fucking arsehole, and so full of shit. He's talking as if you've got a terminal disease and he can't help you. Just rescind the charge! Ridiculous.
UB ~ Unfortunately, it happened, and I did write that (including copies to the TV folk, and to their CEO. I was feeling vindictive and bored. Sorry.
IANYF ~ Because there's no other option - all banks charge ridiculous rates for these accidents. After all, I can't imagine any people go overdrawn on purpose.
God, they're BASTARDS!

BlackLOG said...

58p are you mad, if those sort of bad debt levels make it to the press Abbey will be the next financial institute to become toast. Hmmm actually that sounds like a good idea.

New track write to the Daily Mail stating the Abbey dept levels are spiralling out of control. Then stand back and watch the fireworks....


write to the chairman/head of the board, it is the best way to get results in these cases.

On the bright side it did leave you the legacy of a a great blog. A bit expensive from your point of view but great for the rest of us....

BobLordyPants said...

Thats exactly why nobody gives a shit when Loads of bankers get made redundant at Lehmann brothers.

BobLordyPants said...

Thats exactly why nobody gives a shit when Loads of bankers get made redundant at Lehmann brothers.

Inarticulate Fumblings said...

The same thing happened to my partner... only, he left the account open with a positive balance of about $10. It was a business account which cost $3/month for unlimited transactions. When he finally went to close the account, he owed $45. He closed the account and told them they could fuck themselves. He bitched all the way up the line to some manager and never ended up paying.

Lying, cheating crooks.

fwengebola said...

BL ~ Welcome. And I'm ashamed to say that I did write to the CEO, and the matter has since been resolved. As well as clearing the fines, they have also removed the 30-odd pence still outstanding. KerCHING!!

Still bastards, though.
BLP ~ Twice you may have said that, and I still don't give a shit. Which was your point anyway.
And welcome too.
IF ~ Scum, third-world leeching, public abusing, evil rich fat cat motherfucking cunts. You may (but probably won't) be interested to know that UK banks tend to offer free regular bank accounts to anyone, provided you guarantee them your wages into their coffers.
And then they fine you $70 for going into the red without asking them if you can, and an additional $50 per month for going into the red.
Because they're motherfucking cunts.

Quote said...

It should be yours faithfully if it's Dear Sirs.


Tom said...

I recently went into Abbey to deposit some cash. I had some direct debits coming out of the account in the next few days and obviously I wanted to cover them. Unfortunately, the bank branch had run out of paying in slips, and couldn't take my cash.
I told them I didn't want to receive any bounced direct debits because the branch had ran out of paying in slips. I was told - get this - that if I had a problem with any direct debits, then to ring up the call centre and explain what had happened.
The direct debits failed because Abbey were not organised enough to accept a cash deposit. I have charges pending, What did the call-centre tell me to do? Speak to the branch manager. He was supposed to call me back on Thursday afternoon. It is Sunday afternoon now. I am still waiting. Put it simply, Abbey are swindlers.
The banks will survive all this meltdown because we're bailing them out with our public money.

fwengebola said...

Quote ~ Yes it should, but this is an edited version replacing the actual Abbey representative involved with a generic Sirs, my actual letter is correct. Even if my post isn't.
Tom ~ Hullo. And that's sickening. If I've learnt anything from my time as a workerdrone, it's that you can pass the buck quite easily and say whatever it takes to get people out of your face.
I'd write a strongly worded letter. It worked for me.