Chicken Supreme Court

The United Kingdom Supreme Court has ruled in favour of the banks in the on-going saga (there is no other term, really) on the right to reclaim the value of charges on such things as overdrafts.

Attention is drawn to the seemingly done-and-dusted phrase;

The Supreme Court unanimously held that the charges for unauthorised overdrafts fell within this exclusion. They were part of the price
paid by the customer for the banking services provided.

“This exclusion” refers to the notion of “value for money”, that is, are the fees or charges for going into an overdraft authorised or not a fair swap for the service of having an account with a banking institution. As the ruling says, “The charges were not concealed default charges designed to discourage customers from
becoming overdrawn on their accounts without prior arrangement”

This ruling should be viewed from all sides. Most people accept that banks are businesses and as such must find a way to make profits and secure themselves from losses. Fees and charges are one way in which this can be done. If an ordinary member of the public finds themselves in an unauthorised overdraft, are they in effect relying on other customers to supplement their lapse?

It would appear that the era of free banking could well be coming to a close, not as though this judgement has made this situation any more likely. Banks are finding “sneaky” ways to charge customers any way possible. Is it too much to ask for a watchdog – or even the government – to investigate whether the punishment fits the crime?

Clearly it IS too much to ask. The Supreme Court ruling has done a banking industry with its already tainted reputation not much good at all, with the long run consequences surely more distrust and distaste for an industry happy to soak up government aid while being rather unwilling to allow customers some reasonable boundaries. I don’t expect banks to allow unauthorised overdrafts or bounced cheques to go without any punishment whatever, although there must be surely some perspective in this age of all ages?

Not all customers in serious debt did so through splurges and irresponsibility. Banks may now have been given the right to punish low and fixed-income customers with even more disdain than before. I accept the principle idea behind keeping banks solvent and taxpayers’ money safe: however this ruling does nothing to encourage customers to trust the institutions in which so much ordinary, daily life is secured.