HSBC strings up small business while RBS relents

Business banking news review: week ending 26 Dec 2013

This week in the personal and business bank account world one major high street bank hangs a small business out to dry while another shows some mercy.

First up is the infuriating story of how HSBC blocked the account of Video 71, a small film rental business based in Camborne, simply for going into the red and using an unauthorised overdraft temporarily. The video shop’s owner, Jason Lessiter, says he’s got no way of paying his staff or ordering inventory for his business until HSBC stops playing with him, but the bank has yet to address the problems Mr Lessiter is encountering, even when approached for comment from the press.

Can you believe this? Honestly, Mr Lessiter said he only went a couple of hundred pounds into the red but sorted his account quite promptly. This is the first time in a decade that the man has had to use an overdraft, and the bank shuts his business account down completely? How is that even remotely fair?

Speaking of fair, maybe Mr Lessiter would have had better luck if he had been Iranian – or he was a customer of Royal Bank of Scotland. No, I’m not being clever; it turns out RBS decided against closing the UK-based accounts of nine individuals of Iranian descent.

These nine Iranians have been up in arms over RBS’ decision, claiming that it was racially motivated, and have exercised their rights under the Equality Act to bring a case. Suddenly, RBS changes its mind about shutting the accounts down. Funny little turn of affairs, isn’t it?

Honestly I don’ t know which end is up when it comes to the banking sector any more – especially high street banks. Between completely running roughshod over a small business owner’s ability to keep his company afloat for a measly few hundred pounds to having to be shamed into not stripping the bank accounts of people who just happen to be Iranian, it seems like even when banking customers win, they end up losing. Still, at least there’s a happy ending for those RBS customers – unlike poor Mr Lessiter, who has the unfortunate luck of having to wait until someone from HSBC deigns to speak to him about why his account was blocked and how long it will take to get his working capital flowing once more. It’s criminal, I tell you!

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