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Customers baffled by bank account small print

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Which? survey finds just 10% of people wade through a bank's terms and conditions when opening a current account.

 

Consumers are unable to make sense of banking small print even when given unlimited time to try to understand it, research by Which? has shown. When the consumer group asked a selection of its members to answer five questions on the printed terms and conditions of standard current accounts from Barclays, First Direct, Halifax, HSBC, Lloyds TSB, Nationwide, NatWest and Santander, no one could answer all the questions correctly. One person took 17 minutes to correctly answer a question on First Direct's small print, and another took 15 minutes on Halifax's T&Cs. In total the group managed to answer an average of just 59% of questions correctly, with Lloyds TSB faring worst (53%) and NatWest's T&Cs understood best (67%).

 

Particularly perplexing T&Cs included the First Direct small print which read: "The cut-off time is the time before which on a business weekday a payment or payment instruction is treated as received by us on that business weekday." In plain English, this means if you miss the cut-off time for making payment, it won't be processed until the next day. The results suggest banks are not doing enough to make small print short and easy to understand, Which? said.

 

Chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith added: "It is completely unrealistic for banks to expect their customers to plough through 30,000 words of financial jargon and small print. "Banks should drastically reduce the length of their terms and conditions so that their customers are not put off from reading them in the first place." HSBC topped the table for the longest T&Cs, running to almost 30,000 words, which would take an average person more than an hour-and-a-half to read. First Direct and Halifax would also take more than an hour to read with their T&Cs running to more than 20,000 words. A separate Which? survey of about 1,500 people found that only one in 10 had waded through the T&Cs when they opened a current account.

 

Link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2012/nov/21/customers-baffled-bank-account-small-print


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