I just read on Martin Lewis email about more delays. See below:
Bank charges update
Kevin Mountford, Head of Current Accounts & Savings
There was more frustration for Britain's current account customers earlier this week as the Financial Services Authority (FSA), the City regulator, announced that it is extending the waiver allowing banks not to investigate complaints about unauthorised borrowing charges until January.
The waiver first came into place in July last year when a court case began between the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and eight financial institutions over whether or not unauthorised borrowing charges are fair. These are the fees that are levied if you go overdrawn or exceed an agreed overdraft limit without permission, have a cheque bounced or direct debit or standing order declined. The FSA's original waiver was for 12 months, but with the court battle ongoing a second waiver has been implemented.
What is taking so long?
In April, the judge, Mr Justice Andrew Smith, ruled that the OFT can apply consumer contract regulations to decide whether or not overdraft charges are fair.
This was a green light for the OFT but the banks decided to appeal. In a report published two weeks ago, the OFT claimed high street banks make more than £8bn a year from current accounts that are too complex and that 'are not working well' for consumers. It pointed out that 1.4m people pay more than £500 a year in charges and these are often consumers who are 'vulnerable' with low incomes and low savings. The report claimed that banks are generating around £2.6bn a year from bank charges.
With such a large revenue stream at stake, the eight institutions involved in the court case - Abbey, Barclays, Bank of Scotland, Clydesdale Bank, HSBC, Lloyds TSB, Royal Bank of Scotland and Nationwide building society - have lodged an appeal against the April ruling and a resolution to the case is now not expected until early next year.
Now with no immediate end in sight to the appeal process, the waiver has been extended meaning the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) will not proceed with complaints and county court cases have been put on hold. For more information on what the FOS does, click here and watch our recent interview with chief ombudsman, Walter Merricks.
So what can consumers do now?
The continuing delay is frustrating for those waiting to see if the money they have paid in charges will be repaid. However, some may be entitled to have their complaint investigated before the waiver is lifted.
Under the terms of the FSA's waiver current account providers should still investigate claims from those in 'severe financial hardship'. While this exemption has been in place since the waiver was first introduced last July there has been confusion over how financial hardship is defined, so the FSA has included further clarification on this in its new waiver.
Even if you won't qualify for having your complaint investigated until after the waiver has been lifted, it may still be worth lodging your complaint now as this will leave you free to switch banks and get a better deal elsewhere. If you move current account without lodging any such claim, it may be harder to get this money back at a later date.
When I was at your stage they did the same to me and I wrote to them again but unfortunately due to the OFT investigations A&L did come back and said that they will wait for outcome.
I was going to send my letter requesting that A&L paid what's owing and if they don't then the small courts will deal with it. Any suggestions as to what I should do? Should I just go ahead anyway or hang in there?