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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

NatWest Caves In

Congratulations to the unnamed businessman who took a principled stand against the excess bank charges levelled by NatWest, and succeeded in getting them to refund him £36K.

This is believed to be the largest sum ever refunded to an individual customer, since the start of the consumer revolt against excess bank and credit card charges.

NatWest caved in rather than face Justice in court, where it would have had to explain the reasons for its bank charges.

The anonymous Norfolk businessman challenged NatWest over the £26,010 worth of charges he was levied between January 2001 and February 2003. These fees were mainly for cheques and direct debits that bounced. He also claimed £10,280 interest and £400 costs.


"The bank said it was my fault that the company grew too big too quickly - ie didn't have enough cashflow."

However, he claimed that his business had a turnover of over £1M, no mean feat, yet NatWest refused him an overdraft above £10,000.

A case management conference had been due to be held next month, in which he had planned to ask the judge to order NatWest to disclose the real cost of bouncing cheques and direct debits.

NatWest blinked first, and decided that it was less expensive to pay him rather than to rack up legal fees and publicly admit the true cost of bouncing a cheque.

However, before everyone reaches for the champagne, consider this; the banks will find other ways to make their living from their hapless customers. Should they be forced to lower their charges for bounced cheques etc, they will simply start charging for other services previously taken for granted as being free.

This is only a victory in battle, not a victory in the war against greedy banks.

The Guardian has created two proforma letters that you can use to reclaim excess bank charges, they can be accessed here Guardian Letters.

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