The Great British Banking Ripoff
If you happen to be one of the X million people in Britain without a 'full service' bank account, you may have noticed life getting increasingly complicated and expensive. More and more companies and utilities are pressing you to use Direct Debit to pay your bills and effectively fining you if you cannot, or choose not to pay by this method. Of course, they don't call it a fine - it is disguised as a 'discount' for those who do use DDs. Try paying your car insurance in instalments and you will likely find that the only options offered are full annual premium up front, or Direct Debit. If you don't happen to have several hundred quid in your back pocket, or a bank account, you are – to put it simply – stuffed.
Banks and credit card companies have recently been criticised by the Consumers Association for their “excessive” charges. Their response has been lightning fast – they kept right on making excessive charges. A reader has reported that the Alliance & Leicester turned a sub-£10 overdraft into a nearly £400 overdraft entirely with spurious bank charges, arising from their own failure to follow the client's instructions to cancel Direct Debits. Telephone calls and letters were apparently answered by robots, parroting the A&L Book of Rules. You know the one: “According to our records, the charges were raised according to our Code of Practice”. That's the C of P that gives them permission to do what the hell they like, and charge you for it.
Instead of lying down and getting shafted by your bank, try writing a letter of complaint about their grossly excessive profits at your expense. It probably won't get you very far, but at least they will know that we're on to them.