Even good banks can be pretty bad

Business banking news review: week ending 24 April 2014

It’s definitely a mixed bag this week as new reports reveal that even as many banks can offer good deals, there are things that lurk in the shadows as well.

Now I know I sound awfully melodramatic right now, but I’m being bluntly honest if you’ll just hear me out. I think it’s fair to say that the lion’s share of personal and business bank account providers in the UK aren’t exactly known for their fantastically good deals at the moment – I mean just look at the abysmal interest rates on savings accounts for one – but there are some silver linings here and there. However, these streaks of good luck are often eclipsed by some rather unpleasant behaviour on the part of banks in general.

Truth be told there is still money to be made in the financial markets the old-fashioned way but it will require you to do the sort of accounting gymnastics that most people just can’t be arsed to do. New research says that if you’ve got entirely too much time on your hands you can manage several different current accounts and savings accounts to reap the rewards of as much as 3.3 per cent on annual interest on sums of £74,000 or less, which I suppose is great considering that’s finally well above the nation’s inflation rate. However, what in the world are you worrying about if you’ve got that much cash in the bank to begin with?

Meanwhile even the best deals might come with some serious red tape. Another research study discovered that the terms and conditions on financial products offered by banks and building societies are overly complex and wordy to the point of absurdity. In fact in one case, the number of words that banking giant HSBC employs in its current account fine print is more than 34,000. In comparison, that’s longer than George Orwell’s allegorical classic Animal Farm.

Now I ask you: does this make any bloody sense whatsoever? This is absolutely embarrassing and I can’t believe that banks are getting away with this kind of ridiculous behaviour. There’s no way that you have to use 30,000 words – or more – to get your point across, not when George Orwell can condemn communism in fewer. Laughable and ultimately sad. Then again, I guess some banks are more equal than others.

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