Written by Karen Bryan
Update 7 September 2012 -Santander withdraws the proposed charges on the forever free business account.
I recently read on the BBC News that Santander are to start charging business current account holders a monthly fee. Some of these accounts, including mine, were originally Abbey business current accounts, until Abbey was taken over by Santander. Abbey promised accounts holders ‘forever free’ business banking. I assume that there is no legal obligation for Santander to honour Abbey’s promises. In fact, I bet there was a get-out clause buried in Abbey’s terms and conditions.
I’ve had a free businesss current account with Abbey, subsequently transferred to Santander, since I started my European travel site around ten years ago. Having that free business account saved me a lot of money, compared to the fees levied by some banks.
What really annoyed me about the forthcoming £7.50 a month charge was the letter I received from Santader officially informing me of the change of policy. Instead of being straightforward and saying something along the lines “It’s become uneconomic to offer you free banking, so we’ll need to start charging you a monthly fee”, it started as “Our aim is to build the bank we know our customers want.” I thought that was plain ridiculous, as what customer would want to go from a free acount to paying £7.50 a month for the pleasure? The letter continues along the same vein “We are determined to provide excellent value for all our customers”.
Eer, I don’t reckon that excellent value equates to charging me for something I’ve had for free for ten years.
Whoever composed that letter has obviously studied at the ‘University of Spin’ but there is no positive way to tell people that they have to start paying for something that was supposed to be free; surely it’s better to be upfront about it and dump the meaningless twaddle.
Suffice to say, I will be ditching the no longer free Santander business banking account. I’m currently researching a replacement free business acccount provider. The HSBC Business Direct Account is looking like the most likely candidate.
It’s a bit of a hassle having to to change business accounts, but it’ll save me £90 a year in Santander business current account fees.