This week I received £100 in charges for two returned direct debits worth £55!
I also had a returned cheque fee earlier in the month for £25 becasue they delayed paying in a cheque for me.
Attached below is the email I sent to Cahoot customer services:
Account number: XXXXXXXX
I am writing to you to ask you to refund me the charges you have taken from my account.
I have had two returned DD items of around £55 for which you've placed £100 in fees onto my account this week. In addition, there is an earlier fee of £25 for a returned cheque on 11/06.
I now understand that the regime of fees which you have been applying to my account in relation to direct debit refusals, exceeding overdraft limits and so forth are unlawful at Common Law and contrary to consumer regulations. If you say that they are not, then will you please demonstrate this by letting me have a full breakdown of the costs to which you have been put by as a result of my breaches, in order to reassure me that your charges really do reflect your costs.
In addition, £100 for 2 small returned direct debits and the impact on my overdraft is well out of proportion. It has now been confirmed that your particularly high level of penalties are considered to be unfair per se by the OFT who reported on the 5th April 2006 and are therefore presumed to be unlawful in the absence of specific proof to the contrary, considered to be unfair per se by the OFT who reported on the 5th April 2006 and are therefore presumed to be unlawful.
I would draw your attention to the terms of the contract which you agreed to at the time that I opened my account. It is an implied term of that contract that you would conduct yourselves lawfully and in a manner which complies with UK law.
What I require
Please remove all of the fees mentioned above. I will give you 14 days to reply to me accepting, unconditionally, my request in principle and letting me know a date by which I will receive payment. If you do not respond, or you do not respond positively, within this time period, I shall send you a letter before action giving you a further 14 days in which to reflect. I believe that these targets are more than sufficient for a large company such as yours with dedicated staff and departments.
After that, there will be no further communication from me and I shall issue a claim at the expiry of the second deadline.
I received the following:
I refer to your email dated 3rd July 2007 regarding your cahoot Current account. I have taken ownership of your particular case in order to provide a response to the issues you have raised. We do not accept that cahoot charges are unfair under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999. The object of these Regulations was not price control nor were they intended to interfere with people's freedom to agree the terms of their contracts. It is well known that banks make charges and cahoot charges are in line with those of other banks. The terms and conditions of the account and the charges that apply are clear and fair and were provided to you at the time you opened it. You freely agreed to the terms and conditions and the charges when you opened the account. You were not under any obligation to do so and could have gone to another bank if you did not agree to the charges. Equally, you are free to move your account to another bank at any time if you do not agree with the charges. In any event, we do not agree that the charges are disproportionate. The charges are reasonable and proportionate to the administrative costs incurred by cahoot. I am therefore unable to refund the charges you've incurred fully appreciating the disappointment this may cause. If you need anything further please do not hesitate to contact me. Please be assured I have carried out a full investigation for you and I hope you feel I have offered a fair response to all of the issues you've raised. I will keep your file open for the next 8 weeks and if I don't hear from you within that time, I will assume that everything is resolved and will close your file. If you remain dissatisfied though you can find details of how to take your complaint further within Abbey at legal T&Ts under the heading 'Complaints policy'. The complaints policy also explains your ultimate right to refer your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Which seems pretty standard!
So, on to the next contact stage I think - should I continue to email or does this need to be a written letter? Any help appreciated.