High street banks do their best to annoy & betray customers

Business banking news review: week ending 13 Sept 2012

High street was at it again this week, as new reports have been rolling in that major banking institutions seem to be going out of their way to not just annoy their customers but also flat-out betray them as well – but what else is new?

First up we have a recent news story where it was revealed that the Advertising Standards Authority has taken Royal Bank of Scotland to task. RBS was chastised by the ASA for apparently sending spam e-mails to customers who have already opted out of receiving marketing-emails, thanks to a whistleblower with an RBS-owned NatWest bank account who filed a complaint with the ASA after the customer received not just one e-mail but two this past May where she were exhorted to enroll in the bank’s CashbackPlus scheme.

Apparently it didn’t matter that the customer opted out of NatWest marketing e-mails, according to parent company RBS. The bank said that terms and conditions on the customer’s account granted NatWest the ability to share her information with other banking group members, and while the bank did indeed confirm the fact the she had opted out, this information was not recorded correctly on NatWest/RBS servers.

Apparently the error has since been fixed, but the ASA still had concerns about non-compliance with advertising rules that were put in place to prevent occurrences just lke this one. The watchdog agency also remarked that bank customers had the right to have their personal data kept private by their banking institutions.

Not to be outdone, another high street bank has been tap-dancing lately around the betrayal of a large number of their business bank account holders. The Spain-based bank made news when it announced an intention to begin charging as many as 230,000 business account holders for their bank accounts, despite the fact that they were billed as ‘free banking forever’ accounts.

This of course created a furore within the business banking community that saw a number of banking customers running to the Financial Ombudsman Service, which apparently put the fear into Santander; the bank hastily announced this week that it will be reversing its decision. This decision is most likely to avoid the £500 administration fee for each complaint made by customers to the FOS and not out of the goodness of the hearts of banking executives, so don’t be surprised if Santander finds another way to give small business owners the short end of the stick sometime in the future.

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