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Next Weeks Panorama - Beating The Banks

Smelly Dog

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Next week's episode of Panorama is called "Beating The Banks."


Apologies if someone has already posted.


I can't find any details of the programmes 'actual' content but I can't imagine that charges won't come up.


See BBC - Panorama - Panorama


I have already sent the following email to [email protected]


Dear Sirs,


With reference to next week's program.


My partner and I are currently battling HSBC over the £200 in charges and interest that have been applied to our account on a monthly basis for most of the last seven years.


The charges are caused by our account balance constantly hovering around our overdraft limit during this time. We have now reached the point where the last two week's payments of benefits (child and working tax credits and child benefit) have been swallowed up by our overdraft which, while we accept some of the blame for our financial predicament, has been largely created by the bank's excessive charges and refusal to help.


Without going into too much detail we have three children and both work more than sixteen hours a week. However, due to a combination of illness and the recession my self-employed business has seen a dramatic drop in income. In addition, we have never fully recovered from the hit on our finances when my partner was hospitalised following the birth of our third child in 2007. We have only just reached an agreement with the mortgage company to repay the arrears that we fell into at that time. Until recently they refused all offers to pay off the arrears, preferring to charge us £50 per month instead! I digress.


I discovered that we should probably be treated as a hardship case by the bank as our expenditure is currently exceeding our income. Being accepted as in "financial hardship" means that the banks are obliged to treat you more sympathetically than they would normally.


After some lengthy telephone conversations with HSBC's Financial Guidance Team THEY came to the conclusion that we have a disposable income of £52 per week. It seems that they don’t include any loan or credit card repayments in their income/expenditure calcualtions. So they expect customers to get even further into debt before they will help.


The next day I remembered that the charges and interest that were due to be taken out of our account hadn’t been included in the calculations so I rang them back. I fully expected them to subtract the £200 interest and charges from the disposable income figure of £48 meaning that we have an ACTUAL disposable income of MINUS £152!! But no.... It seems that they don’t include charges and interest in "their" calcualtions. Although the £200 was being taken from our account the next day they REFUSED to include it! I naturally asked that seeing as they wouldn’t include them that they stop the charges but they refused.


All of this led to one memorable comment by HSBC's representative, "Whilst we accept that you are suffering "financial difficulties" we don't accept that you are in "financial hardship!"


You couldn't make it up!


In addition I have informed them that they are not supposed to take charges out of our benefits money, which includes tax credits and child benefit. Again. You couldn't have made up the reply;


"The charges are being taken from an account that your benefits happen to be being paid into. We're not taking the charges from your benefits!"


If it wasn't so serious it would be funny.


In conclusion we are in the process of setting up an alternative account with another bank. Transferring all of our income and expenditure to another bank and making sure that we don’t go overdrawn means that we will immediately be £200 a month better off.


I will then be going to war with HSBC in order to recover years of charges and compensation for the years of unnecessary mental and emotional stress.


HSBC seem to have decided that the recent Supreme Court ruling concerning Bank Charges was a victory for the banks and vindicated and validated their extortionate charges and unsympathetic business practices.


I and many others disagree. The Ruling even suggested that other ways to challenge their legality might be found.


I am a member of the Consumer Action Group and as soon as I have extricated myself from the "circle of debt" created and controlled by HSBC I shall be fighting back.


I, like many others, am sick to death of a system where the poorest members of our society subsidise free banking for the richest. A system where the least able to pay, pay the most. A system that intentionally keeps customer's balances hovering just above their "agreed" overdraft limit thus maximising the amount that they can take in charges each month. A system where the banks do everything they can to wriggle and squirm out of their obligation to treat customers fairly and strive to keep them trapped in the dreaded circle of debt. A system where the banks regularly ignore their own Banking Code and break the law at will, safe in the knowledge that any "inconvenient law" that gets in the way of their profiteering can easily be removed if they throw enough of OUR money at it!


I sincerely hope that you include all or some of the above in your report next week. If you require any further information or a more detailed explanation of our circumstances and dealings with the bank then please contact us.


Yours Faithfully,


xxxxx xxxxxxxx

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