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Around 13,000 switch as bank charges row goes on

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26/04/2007

UK current account holders are switching their bank accounts in ever-increasing numbers to register displeasure at ‘unfair’ bank charges.

Up to 12,700 customers a day will leave their current bank according to a financial website, with another 453,100 moving their accounts in the three months to March.

The banks are facing unprecedented scrutiny from consumer watchdogs and even Government departments as bank charges on UK current accounts are increasingly viewed as grossly unfair and possibly illegal.

NatWest recently refunded a business customer nearly £40,000 in overpaid charges, while denying any liability for wrongdoing, while Alliance & Leicester also settled a claim in the region of £2,000 without going to court.

In the latter instance, the bank claimed that “special circumstances” informed its decision and that these were not applicable across the range of its UK current account holders.

But even the Government is getting worried about the issue and the Office of Fair Trading has indicated that certain charges on UK current accounts, like those levied on unauthorised overdrafts or bounced cheques, amount to an illegal penalty.

“People are voting with their feet, like I’ve done by switching from a High Street bank to a building society current account,” said disgruntled customer Paul Davis.

“I inadvertently went overdrawn a while ago and the bank charged me £27.50 for informing me about this. No thanks.”

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