Barclays forces current account switches on its customers

Business banking news review: week ending 12 Feb 2015

Countless Barclays customers are furious after being informed that they’re being forced into an unwanted and unsolicited switch to a different current account.

Thanks to a new initiative at the personal and business bank account provider, 270,000 current account holders who have been paying £25 a month for the “premier life” current account have been informed that they will be switched to one of two new, fee-free current accounts depending on their circumstances. However, customers have no control over which of the two accounts they will be switched to, as Barclays has its own criteria for choosing who goes where.

While both of these new accounts don’t have any fees associated with them, the new “premier current account,” or the one with all the lovely perks like a £1,000 overdraft buffer, is nearly impossible to qualify for. Customers need to have at least £100,000 of personal assets invested or saved through Barclays – or have £75,000 or more paid into a Barclays account annually – in order to qualify. Don’t meet that high standard? Too bad – you get assigned to the standard account which has next to nothing in the way of extras besides features that by and large are considered standard, such as access to online banking.

Barclays says that it’s simply cleaning up its account range, as the premier life account stopped being offered in 2012 whilst the new fee-free “premier” account was launched in 2013 to replace it. Meanwhile, it sounds to me like the older account just wasn’t lucrative enough for Barclays, despite the fact that customers were paying £25 a month for it, so they decided to eliminate the account and transition all the customers they could into accounts that would cost the bank less or lead to better returns on investment – again, for Barclays, not its customers.

Honestly it’s things like this that make me sick to my stomach and that inspire me to pick up a pitchfork and perhaps a flaming brand and go down to picket my local Barclays branch. Does that sound a bit mediaeval on my part? Well it worked for the villagers who wanted to drive out Frankenstein’s monster, didn’t it?

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