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  • FIRST POST
    • FightPredatoryPractices
    • By FightPredatoryPractices 4th Dec 19, 3:01 PM
    • 6Posts
    • 2Thanks
    FightPredatoryPractices
    Am I going mad? Fighting Predatory Banking Practices
    • #1
    • 4th Dec 19, 3:01 PM
    Am I going mad? Fighting Predatory Banking Practices 4th Dec 19 at 3:01 PM
    Hi all.

    Firstly, I am sorry if I am posting this in the wrong group. This post concerns the following subjects;
    #mentalhealth #accessiblebanking #predatorybankingpractices

    In brief, my wife is afflicted by a neurobiological condition (specifically a life-long personality disorder) and struggles with maintaining her mental health to the point where she is free from falling into the maladaptive coping mechanisms (in this case specifically relating to inappropriate or damaging financial behaviours) she has been forced to rely upon for the majority of her life in the absence of being aware of her condition or receiving any treatment for it.

    We went to her bank and asked for help with making adjustments to her account so that she could be enabled to maintain her account as independently as possible. We were advised that the account could have a function placed on it that would prevent her from being able to spend more than what was in the account but that she would not be able to utilise a contact-less debit card and would not be able to use pay-at-the-pump style functions at shops etc. This would be free for 6 months and then would cost £10 a month thereafter indefinitely.

    Now, I know many will read that and think "that's good - take them up on it", after all - £10 a month isn't that much and is certainly a lot less than the costs the bank might otherwise charge if their rules are broken, but what we feel had essentially happened was that; my wife, having identified herself as vulnerable and requiring additional, reasonable, adjustments to be made by the bank in order that she might maintain a bank account, had had an attempt made on her which would have exploited her vulnerabilities to sell to her a financial package for the banks gain. This would be bad enough on it's own, but the fact that there are measures available to the bank to help individuals who are financially vulnerable to be able to manage their finances as effectively as any typical individual and that the bank has chosen to market those as a financial product to them, is intolerable. I feel that It would be as if the bank were to charge wheelchair users for ramps to access their branches, or customers with visual impairments an additional cost for printing in braille, as I would consider these examples in line with the accessibility issues here. If a bank can prevent additional incurred costs on accounts through a feature which does not otherwise compromise a personís financial independence, for those who require it owing to any clinical condition/advice or proven vulnerability, that adjustment should be provided freely. I do not even believe such a feature presents the bank with the costs they would charge in order to facilitate it.

    I will also take a moment here to condemn other predatory practices, such as "unarranged overdrafts", "returned direct debit" fees or "debit interest" charges which I feel also disproportionately affect persons of specific demographics, such as those afflicted with mental health disorders/issues/conditions or those from low-income or sub-par socio-economic circumstances. The bank overturned some of those charges, but in refusing to freely enact the adjustments to the account, my wife fell foul of further charges which the bank would not refund, further down the line. When they first overturned those charges, it makes me sick to think how thankful we were to them for that, as if we had done something wrong and they had graciously allowed us momentary absolution of some crime, when I really feel it is their own practices and they that should be being put under scrutiny!

    Since then, I have written to the bank, and I have also written to MoneySavingExpert, in an attempt to find out what I can do to make my bank give up dangerous or predatory practices. I have not received a reply from the former, and an MSE adviser only offered tips on that worked around the issues instead of how to go about changing anything. Both experiences have left me wondering if I'm going mad, and if I am the only person who can see these morally deficient practices for what they really are; taxes on the poor and vulnerable.

    So, MSE Forums..... please help me;

    1) Should the The Disability Discrimination Act, passed in 1995, apply to circumstances where a reasonable adjustment can be made by the bank, in this instance by providing their service in such a way as those persons with a disability (I hate that word, my wife and I prefer chronic additional or alternative needs or requirements, but we are continuously told that "disability" is the legal reference to such) can use their service where they might not otherwise be able to? My view is that the service they provide is banking, intrinsic to which is a bank account, and a bank account does not require "unarranged overdraft facilities" or features other than that of accepting, holding and releasing monies appropriately upon request by a customer.
    2) Am I justified in feeling that it is predatory and unfair for banks to impose unwanted account features, such as unarranged overdafts or contactless debit cards, onto accounts, particularly in view of the associated charges that are imposed upon customers due to them?
    3) I have written to my bank and they seem now to be ignoring our complaints and letters. Now how do I get them to sit up, listen and change things?
    4) Is it worth writing to the ombudsman? My immediate feeling is that these issues have been longstanding and the industry watchdog would have done something about them by now if they were so inclined to do so.

    For those of you who read this to the end and especially those who take the time to give considered response, thank you.

    Regards,
    FightPredatoryPractices
Page 1
    • born again
    • By born again 4th Dec 19, 3:26 PM
    • 844 Posts
    • 451 Thanks
    born again
    • #2
    • 4th Dec 19, 3:26 PM
    • #2
    • 4th Dec 19, 3:26 PM
    Couple of questions.
    What does your wife use her card for?
    Is this a joint or sole account?
    Which bank?
    Do you have power of attorney or a 3rd party mandate?

    I find it strange that they are charging for a non contactless facility & a all auth card. Something that is standard practise for some customers with poor account management and have been handed to the banks credit team to help manage account or in simple terms get rid of them. If they continue to over spend and incur charges.

    Unarranged overdrafts is something that has come in more since customers have until the end of the day to bring account back in line.

    Remember that banks are a business and as such will charge for things like returned DD's, Debit interest etc.
    All something you agree to when opening the account.

    If you want a account without these facilities then you will need to search around and find one that offers what you need. See last sentence

    Contactless cards do not cost you anything. They are something that the majority of customers want. So like all bushiness banks offer these. Even though there is a greater risk to the bank financially when they are lost and used fraudulently.

    Not sure what you think MSE can do to help you. They are a company that make a lot of money promoting banking products. Every time a person clicks through and opens a account they get paid for it...

    If you have complained & they have responded and to be honest from what you are saying they will answer with "Standard Procedure" which they will not change.
    They maybe considering further letters from you as already answered if it is about the same issue.
    The only way things will change is if the majority of customers complain (not going to happen)
    If it is banks policy. Then unless they have a very good reason then it will not change.

    You can go to FOS, but if the bank has said their policy then I see FOS doing nothing.

    I think that your best option is all bills out of your account & your wife has a basic bank account or a savings account with a building Society with a card.
    • eskbanker
    • By eskbanker 4th Dec 19, 3:54 PM
    • 11,918 Posts
    • 14,728 Thanks
    eskbanker
    • #3
    • 4th Dec 19, 3:54 PM
    • #3
    • 4th Dec 19, 3:54 PM
    1) Should the The Disability Discrimination Act, passed in 1995, apply to circumstances where a reasonable adjustment can be made by the bank, in this instance by providing their service in such a way as those persons with a disability (I hate that word, my wife and I prefer chronic additional or alternative needs or requirements, but we are continuously told that "disability" is the legal reference to such) can use their service where they might not otherwise be able to? My view is that the service they provide is banking, intrinsic to which is a bank account, and a bank account does not require "unarranged overdraft facilities" or features other than that of accepting, holding and releasing monies appropriately upon request by a customer.
    Originally posted by FightPredatoryPractices
    I can see some merit in your argument that if they can provide accounts that prevent unarranged overdrafts then they should do so FOC if you can make a case that charging for these breaches DDA, or rather the Equality Act that superseded it (except in NI).

    2) Am I justified in feeling that it is predatory and unfair for banks to impose unwanted account features, such as unarranged overdafts or contactless debit cards, onto accounts, particularly in view of the associated charges that are imposed upon customers due to them?
    Originally posted by FightPredatoryPractices
    I think you're on weaker ground here, especially in the context of more recent developments, such as basic bank accounts, more online authorisation and the forthcoming tightening of overdraft controls.

    3) I have written to my bank and they seem now to be ignoring our complaints and letters. Now how do I get them to sit up, listen and change things?
    Originally posted by FightPredatoryPractices
    Your tone and choice of username would suggest a fairly aggressive approach, which may explain them not engaging. You might find it more productive to be more focused, i.e. 'I believe that you can do something specific for my wife, such as overdraft prevention without charge', rather than launching into an extended diatribe about predatory practices, etc, etc.

    4) Is it worth writing to the ombudsman? My immediate feeling is that these issues have been longstanding and the industry watchdog would have done something about them by now if they were so inclined to do so.
    Originally posted by FightPredatoryPractices
    FOS is a point of escalation if you wish to pursue a specific complaint that the bank hasn't resolved adequately, but they wouldn't take on some sort of 'class action' against the industry. You might find the FCA receptive, otherwise your local MP perhaps....
    • FightPredatoryPractices
    • By FightPredatoryPractices 4th Dec 19, 4:12 PM
    • 6 Posts
    • 2 Thanks
    FightPredatoryPractices
    • #4
    • 4th Dec 19, 4:12 PM
    • #4
    • 4th Dec 19, 4:12 PM
    Hi Born Again,

    Thank you for taking the time to reply, in answer to your initial questions;
    1) Do you mean in general or in relation to times when she's spent monies excessively against her own self-interest? The former would be all things a typical person would do (at least when she was earning and managing her own monies) and the latter would be anything from splashing out on others to buying clothes/tech/jewellery - it honestly depends on where and with whom she is with, though those persons may not be aware of what she is doing.
    2) She has her own account, which I had to fight for her to get prior to discovering the condition with which she is afflicted, as she had a poor credit history (now I know why!).
    3) TSB
    4) I have third party mandate.

    I find it strange also. It feels like they are taking advantage of customer vulnerabilities to be charging for the removal of account features.

    I see what you are saying regarding unarranged overdrafts but I feel that whatever benevolent intention could be construed there that is removed because our experience is that this model of this facility you described is not consistently applied; monies are removed to bring the account into overspend in the first instance and then disallowed subsequently - if it were the case that it existed purely to give customers the time to find monies to put into the account then the initial items which cause overspend would be rejected also, and this is not the case.

    Thank you for the advice regarding accounts - however we like our local branch and the staff there, they are very friendly and my wife actually feels comfortable to go in there, which is a big deal. I have banked with that branch all my life, I don't want to change branch or bank, I want them to accommodate my wife's needs.

    I don't believe banks would automatically make everyone's cards contactless if it didn't benefit them somehow. As you say, they are a business and every decision is made with the intention to create profit. As to what opportunities should be exploited to make profit, I believe there is line and I feel that current practices cross it all too frequently. I feel with regards to our own circumstances, whatever we signed up to initially regarding the account and charges etc should be voided in view of my wife's new disabled status and a more appropriate service offered.

    I had thought as MSE was a business that thrived on enabling customers to make better financial choices, that their predisposition might have been towards enabling a greater range of potential sustainable custom through wider accessibility.

    I recognise that the bank is unlikely to change it practices unless it is confronted without the feeling pressured to do so. I am looking for help in finding a way to galvanise that and bring it to bear.

    Regarding FOS, that is what I suspected..

    I have done the former of what you have suggested, I would like the bank to change her account freely to something more suitable and not have to change to a different bank for the reasons I discussed above.

    Thank you BA, at least discussing this is helping a lot! cheers.
    • FightPredatoryPractices
    • By FightPredatoryPractices 4th Dec 19, 4:22 PM
    • 6 Posts
    • 2 Thanks
    FightPredatoryPractices
    • #5
    • 4th Dec 19, 4:22 PM
    • #5
    • 4th Dec 19, 4:22 PM
    Hi eskbanker,

    1 - Thank you, I've just had someone ring me about that! I'll be sure to follow that up.
    2 - I had asked about switching to a basic bank account but they had said that her account was the most basic available...
    3 - Yes, I feel very angry and emotive about this, but I did not always feel this way - as I mentioned, I had previously been very thankful and subservient and requested help and support in all the ways you describe. But now I have taken a step back and look at things from a wider perspective and it is very clear to me that these practices only affect the most vulnerable or neglected individuals in society and so are therefore intolerable.
    4 - Thank you, I had not realised there was a distinction between the two and I appreciate and will act on the advice you have given regarding contacting my MP, I had not considered it an avenue to go down but I see where you are coming from.

    Thank you for taking the time to read and respond to my post, it is greatly appreciated.
    • eskbanker
    • By eskbanker 4th Dec 19, 6:24 PM
    • 11,918 Posts
    • 14,728 Thanks
    eskbanker
    • #6
    • 4th Dec 19, 6:24 PM
    • #6
    • 4th Dec 19, 6:24 PM
    2 - I had asked about switching to a basic bank account but they had said that her account was the most basic available...
    Originally posted by FightPredatoryPractices
    Is it this one?

    https://www.tsb.co.uk/current-accounts/cash-account/

    This is their free basic account, the Ts & Cs (https://www.tsb.co.uk/current-accounts/cash-account/cashaccount-terms-and-conditions.pdf) of which include:
    What don’t you get with this account?

    You can’t have a chequebook or an overdraft on this account.
    • We won’t pay or charge interest on this account.
    We won’t usually make a payment if there isn’t enough money in your account.
    In the rare event that you accidentally borrow money from us, you won’t be charged any interest or fees. This might happen if you make a payment on a plane, for example and we can’t check at the time whether you have enough money. If this happens, you must pay us back as soon as possible.
    Seems to me that this should fit the bill?
    • born again
    • By born again 4th Dec 19, 7:22 PM
    • 844 Posts
    • 451 Thanks
    born again
    • #7
    • 4th Dec 19, 7:22 PM
    • #7
    • 4th Dec 19, 7:22 PM
    don't believe banks would automatically make everyone's cards contactless if it didn't benefit them somehow.
    Sadly banks do not get a real choice. It is the likes of Visa/Mastercard who dictate the type of card they will issue to banks/card providers.
    Some banks will not supply customers a non contactless card as that is their procedure.
    Some will if a customer complains. If a customer asks me, then it's "What would you like"

    TBH a contactless card is not really a issue in your wife's case as having one will not effect her spending.

    It sounds very much like your good lady is easily manipulated by others, or wants to please them by buying then gifts.
    Very tough thing for you to deal with.
    And to be honest this is something that is getting higher on banks radar. Some banks even have teams that deal with people with issues in relation to their banking. (no idea on TSB)

    eskbanker come up with a good account. If TSB are prepared to downgrade her. Given how her account sounds to have been run. It should not be a issue.
    I do have to wonder about the friendly staff at branch though. If they were on the ball they would have been assisting to get this sorted.
    From the sounds of it, the branch is something that helps your wife and while moving may end up being the only way forward. I would try and push TSB for the basic account.

    But please take the softly softly approach.
    I know from talking to customers. If they come on all shouty and refusing to listen. Then the shutters go up and help is not so forth coming.
    Come on with a reasoned argument and something I can help with and I will do everything in my power to get it sorted. I have even gone above my remit and got things done.
    So in your wife's case that would be go to the team that deal with disability customers and get them to make the account change. As well as them having a word with her on what can we do to help you.
    It might not get some of the things you would like as that all depends on the features the accounts offer compared to what you would like.
    • FightPredatoryPractices
    • By FightPredatoryPractices 5th Dec 19, 9:53 AM
    • 6 Posts
    • 2 Thanks
    FightPredatoryPractices
    • #8
    • 5th Dec 19, 9:53 AM
    • #8
    • 5th Dec 19, 9:53 AM
    Hi again eskbanker,

    That is the account we applied for but were told she couldn't have and were directed towards a savings account.
    It absolutely fits the bill, which begs the question - why has it not been offered to us, and why were we denied it previously? I will put that to them and see what they say.

    Thank you eskbanker for your help, time and input.
    • FightPredatoryPractices
    • By FightPredatoryPractices 5th Dec 19, 10:25 AM
    • 6 Posts
    • 2 Thanks
    FightPredatoryPractices
    • #9
    • 5th Dec 19, 10:25 AM
    • #9
    • 5th Dec 19, 10:25 AM
    Hi again born again,

    I see what you're saying regarding contactless - and it's absolutely in the interest of Visa/Mastercard for their products to be used as often as possible above the interests of the banks they supply.

    The neurobiological condition with which my wife is afflicted makes her extremely susceptible to suggestion, being manipulated by others and addiction, of which I believe spending falls into the last category; that lovely dopermine hit we get when we buy new things or spend money is experienced 100x greater for her than a neurotypical individual. She is made very vulnerable through this and there should absolutely be facilities freely available to her and thousands of others like her who would otherwise spend and use their monies in such ways as would cause harm to themselves and their best interests and do not possess the same biology-driven processing and reasoning to mitigate these urges in the same way as an aforementioned neurotypical persons do.

    I will enquire again with regards to her account in line with eskbanker's information and see if I can find out why she was denied the basic account we requested initially. It wasn't something I invested too much interest in at the time because we weren't aware of the diagnosis of the condition afflicting her nor the associated behaviours, but I do distinctly remember thinking at the time that we had struggled to get her through the credit checks to even get a bank account so why they wouldn't allow her the basic one seemed incongruous with the narrative. Unless one is the suspicious type and presumes that the bank profits more from savings accounts than basic ones so it would prefer her to have the former? The avenue of downgrading is certainly not something that has been proposed by the bank, though the process sounds quiet normal from the way I read it in your post. I will put this to them and relay the outcome, and I will take note of your advice and strike a gentler tone than that which I would seem to convey through my discourse and username etc here.

    Thank you again Born again for taking the time to give advice and provide clarity on these issues. Cheers.
    • TBagpuss
    • By TBagpuss 5th Dec 19, 11:59 AM
    • 7,704 Posts
    • 10,008 Thanks
    TBagpuss
    Hi again eskbanker,

    That is the account we applied for but were told she couldn't have and were directed towards a savings account.
    It absolutely fits the bill, which begs the question - why has it not been offered to us, and why were we denied it previously? I will put that to them and see what they say.

    Thank you eskbanker for your help, time and input.
    Originally posted by FightPredatoryPractices
    In that case, I suggest that you do explicitly ask why she can't have that account and who would have the authority to change that decision, as it might be a cae of the staff in branch getting a rejection from the application system (or possibly misunderstanding the criteria) and not being able to override that.
    All posts are my personal opinion, not formal advice Always get proper, professional advice (particularly about anything legal!)
    • born again
    • By born again 5th Dec 19, 2:11 PM
    • 844 Posts
    • 451 Thanks
    born again
    Basic accounts are usually only offered to people who have failed normal credit checks.

    So OP might have to argue the point that one would be best for his wife. But as has been said this needs to be done in the right way. With a calm and reasoned argument.

    I would guess that downgrade would be well out of branch remit and would require referral to a internal team to action.
    But given how the branch seem to understand the OP's issue. Then they should be pushing to get this sorted.
    As failing to assist customers with issues such as this is something FOS like to clamp down on. Especially when there is a solution that bank can put in place.
    • ad interim
    • By ad interim 5th Dec 19, 2:35 PM
    • 7 Posts
    • 3 Thanks
    ad interim
    Your wife could apply for the Natwest Select (or the RBS Select account) and request to have overdraft control on it. They don't charge for this.

    personal.natwest.com/content/dam/natwest_com/currentaccounts/downloads/NatWest-overdraft-control-leaflet.pdf

    Natwest has a £150 switch incentive at the moment, if you initiate the account switch no later than tomorrow (Friday 6 Dec) when the offer ends.

    personal.natwest.com/personal/current-accounts/switch-your-banking-to-natwest.html
    • cloud_dog
    • By cloud_dog 5th Dec 19, 5:03 PM
    • 4,646 Posts
    • 2,924 Thanks
    cloud_dog
    Hi again born again,

    I see what you're saying regarding contactless - and it's absolutely in the interest of Visa/Mastercard for their products to be used as often as possible above the interests of the banks they supply.
    Originally posted by FightPredatoryPractices
    If you want to disable contactless, simply cut the corner of the credit card, this will break the antennae circuit. Here is an example of how to do so.
    Personal Responsibility - Sad but True

    Sometimes.... I am like a dog with a bone
    • FightPredatoryPractices
    • By FightPredatoryPractices 6th Dec 19, 3:08 PM
    • 6 Posts
    • 2 Thanks
    FightPredatoryPractices
    Hi born again, Hi Ad Interim,

    I have just ran into all the issues you've outlined here. I explained the situation and left out any emotive input I express in these forums and had it explained to me in just as clinical a manner that basic bank accounts, for both TSB and Natwest, were only available if an individual were to fail a credit check whilst applying for an account. As my wife currentley holds and account with TSB, this is, apparently, out of the question, whereas with Natwest she would have to apply for an account with the intent of securing the account she had applied for, none of which fit what we are looking for. I avoided making any mention regarding accessibility and the equality act so as not to engender any hostility in the process and in both circumstances the individuals I spoke to were very polite and afforded empathy to our situation and expressed regret they couldn't help outside the remit of the typical application process available.

    I have found a list of banks who provide what we are looking for here, moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/basic-bank-accounts, all with various terms and conditions - some of which are similar to TSB and HSBC, but there are a few which would appear to allow direct as opposed to redirected application. Santander would seem to be the most promising as it has the fewest conditions on it, though I would quite like not to walk away from this and pursue TSB to the point where they at least offer to make the appropriate adjustments in line with the Equality Act 2010.

    To set that precedent and to perhaps get it ensconced in policy (one can dream) so that others who face similar difficulties might not have to overcome the same obstacle would be my ultimate goal, lofty as it seems.

    Thanks to both of you, and Cloud_Dog for his suggestion, it is all very much appreciated. Cheers.
    • ad interim
    • By ad interim 6th Dec 19, 3:34 PM
    • 7 Posts
    • 3 Thanks
    ad interim
    basic bank accounts, for both TSB and Natwest, were only available if an individual were to fail a credit check whilst applying for an account. As my wife currentley holds and account with TSB, this is, apparently, out of the question, whereas with Natwest she would have to apply for an account with the intent of securing the account she had applied for, none of which fit what we are looking for.
    Originally posted by FightPredatoryPractices
    It might be true about TSB, but it's definitely not true about Natwest (and RBS). The Select account is not a basic bank account and is available to anyone. The overdraft control is available on it on demand, so you need to call them to turn it on after you get the account. I posted the link to it in the post above.

    I had the Natwest Select with overdraft control up until last year. My credit history is unblemished and I have always had very high credit rating (whatever that means).

    personal.natwest.com/personal/current-accounts/select_account.html

    Good luck OP.
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