British banks create international issues for customers

Business banking news review: week ending 9 Oct 2014

UK personal and business bank account providers have been recently creating issues for its customers on both an international and multicultural level.

Banks and building societies in the UK have long been criticised for poor customer service, but this week two stories have emerged that truly take the cake; in one, British expats with accounts from one bank have been banned from switching to different financial products while in another a human rights organisation has had its access to finance completely stripped away.

The Islamic-focused community organisation Cage has issued a formal complaint to the financial ombudsman in the wake of a five-month spate of having to operate only in cash after having its bank account shuttered. The organisation, which focuses on helping communities that have been hurt by the war on terror, is one of many Muslim charities and activist groups that saw their current accounts shut down, has said that it’s been hard-pressed to pay its landlord or its employees to the point where the group may have to shut down.

Cage had been a customer of both the Co-operative bank and Barclays, only to have its accounts closed after its director of outreach, Mozzam Begg, was arrested on the grounds that he might have links to acts of terrorism in Syria. The charges against Begg were dropped last week and he has since been released from prison, yet Cage is still without the ability to open a new account anywhere; this seems to me a serious problem that needs to be addressed, and I have hopes that the ombudsman will get to the bottom of this.

Meanwhile if you’re a Lloyds customer that’s been living abroad and you have an eSavings account with the financial service company, good luck switching to a new savings product; the banks says that unless a customer has a British address, they’re ineligible for any other type of savings account. This doesn’t sit well with savers who want to maximize their returns – the eSavings interest rate is plummeting to a paltry 0.55 per cent by the end of October.

Can you imagine such a bait-and-switch? Sure, Lloyds says it wishes to focus on local business, but to specifically lock customers into a savings account with an abysmal rate of return with no hope of anything better is positively criminal. I can only hope that anyone effected by this brainless policy on Lloyds’ part will be able to switch to a better bank that’s willing to work with them.

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