Friday, 17 August 2012

When does 'Free Banking Forever' mean at least £7.50 mth?

We seem to have a new bank mis-selling scandal on the horizon.

We received a letter today stating that Santander will start charging on a "Free Business Banking Forever" account we opened back in 2003.

Marketeers seem to have a problem with vocabulary - like internet providers and mobile companies' interpretation of the word 'unlimited'!
Don't let them get away with it - I have the evidence in black and white from when we opened the account - call Santander on 0845 606 1721 and lodge a telephone complaint. We’ll be taking it up with the Financial Ombudsman if they don't back down. Enough complaints will hopefully force a re-think, although the Financial Services Authority’s (‘FSA’) Lord Turner has ruled that free banking has to end as it “stifles competition”.  Really?  Is free not competitive?

If we can’t win against the FSA, then perhaps class action is called for through the courts.

Who's with me?

[Would also refer you to this Facebook group - not set up by me]

[Tell BBC's Watchdog about it here - choose 'Finance' in the drop-down box or Rip Off Britain here]

Petition here

ANOTHER broken pledge (this time on mortgage rates) here.

... and did you know the sort code of their business accounts ends in '666'? I just put that in for mischief - I don't actually believe they are: ... (look closely at the logo) ....

Update 23 Aug 12: Just spoke to Ralph Tetlow (Santander Exec Complaint Team Manager - Tel: 01908 934552) to give him a right of reply before escalating my complaint to FOS. I said their written response did not address why they don't think they mis-sold - only to say they were sorry I felt they had. He insists their Legal department says the changes are in accordance with the T&C's.  I imagine, though, that Legal have looked at these in isolation and not in the context of the marketing campaign used to promote the product. Keep the pressure on them - call him, join the FB groups, go to Watchdog, Tweet like there's no tomorrow!!!

Update 6 Sep 12: RESULT!!! Santander have backed off - Reported in HuffPost here. 


  1. Yes Roy it is endemic everywhere .. My heavy Machinery operators tickets that once attained were your for life are now subject to an annual reissuing along with the FFS of Approx $60/ticket .. Found out much to my amusement the other Day that I am no longer a certified Welder of several disciplines either same deal but as the certification renewal (never neede) was sent to your last known postal address in my Case several thousand K's away in SA You won't believe the time and money that will need to be spent to be able to legally say this on my resume again. I repeat at least Ned Kelly had the decency to Threaten your Life while he was robbing You.... these bastards just empty our pockets with no recourse....

  2. The FSA would be some kind of gov qunago entity would it? Like an Ombudsman? You know, set up to protect the public from abuse by those they in theory oversee?
    History does not suggest a great precedent.
    OFCOM on telecoms.
    LGO & PHSO on elder care.
    Plus a few financial industry 'quirks' of late.
    All of which my MP runs away from even talking about sensibly.
    Not a great lover of legals either, as only the lawyers win, but you may in this case be right.
    Maybe give t'internet a wee while to spin up a reaction from 'em first.
    Just my tweeting and Facebook moans are already around the world.
    And they tend to shy away from bad PR that has a public head of steam worldwide.

  3. So let me get this straight. Santa Clause has turned mean and opened a bank and now he wants to charge you monthly fees. I KNEW his old business model didn't work, what with handing out all that free stuff at Xmas etc. What's an Elf cost to employ these days anyway? What about reindeer? Surely they can't last forever and one can't just go out and round up a few new ones off the Tundra whenever the mood takes one. I'm fairly sure the Laps would have something to say about that. I'll bet those bloody Elves are pressing for higher wages now and poor old Santa has to get the dosh from somewhere. I think the Germans are probably pressing him for a few payments and he need to take "austerity" measures. There goes your free bank account and it's not Santas' fault...It's the Germans!!!

  4. As usual, an outspoken comment from 1philistine - what grinds my gears is the justification - 'We're giving you extra service' (in-branch business advisers and access via the Post Office)...'and you can't expect to get something for nothing'. Hello? I was happy with the account I had and didn't ask for (or need) anything else. It's like saying 'Here's a free car, but the mags we've put on it will cost you ... the price of a car'.

  5. Read your Terms and Conditions and the various variations to those that they've probably posted out over the past 9 years. I suspect you will find clear evidence of them preparing for the impost of a fee. There will be mention of all the wonderful new services, of which you can avail yourself and some time lag between that and your latest correspondence. Not strictly an con. Possibly immoral.... probably legal. Ombudsmen and the like are more about placating voters than justice, so I would simply start looking for more afordable alternatives. They're all sharks, so just look for one that takes a smaller bite.

  6. I still don't get it - 'Free Forever' is unambiguous as a definition, whether you water it down in stages or not. It's like wanting black paint and someone keeps adding white through Fifty Shades of Grey. You went into the shop to buy black paint and that's what it said on the tin.

  7. I agree with all of this and your fight. My free banking for life was taken out with Abbey and as Santander took them over I'd expect it to be honoured. But there's no such thing as a free lunch. Personally, I can't be bothered fighting this as they have done their homework and will get away with it. I have always thought Santander to be a dreadful bank with their service being appalling. I tolerated it because it was free but now I have left and hope never to deal with them again. Santander epitomise everything that is wrong with the banks and why people hate the banks. Quite frankly I don't want anything to do with them and hope one day they flounder and go under as they deservce to fall.

  8. I've written a post about this:

    I am voting with my feet and opening a HSBC Business Direct acccount which is free (for the moment).