Written by Karen Bryan
Santander have announced that they are going to drop proposed charges of £7.50 a month due to be imposed later this year on accounts which were sold as being forever free. Many of these accounts were originally with Abbey and Alliance & Leicester, which were later taken over by Santander. This is a relief for people like me, running a small business, who bank with Santander and only require a basic bank account.
To register my protest when I received the letter from Santander about the forthcoming charges, I published a post on Help Me To Save about the Santander business banking ditching of the free accounts. I asked @SantanderUK on Twitter if they could give me a written explanation of how charges could be introduced on an account which was supposed to be forever free. Santander offered to phone me for a chat but I declined saying that a chat was of no use to me. I joined the Facebook group. I signed and promoted the e-petition calling for the charges to be dropped. I also opened an HSBC Business Direct Account which offered free banking.
However, Santander is still on the ‘University of Spin’ tack saying “We will, of course, be happy to upgrade any customer who would like to make the most of the additional benefits offered by the fixed-fee account.” I wonder how many takers there will be? The benefits, such as access to Post Office branches, were of no interest to me as I do the vast majority or banking online, with phone banking as a backup.
I’d also love to know which business account holders and non-customers took part in Santander’s research which concluded that “Feedback – both from existing customers and non-customers – increasingly told us they wanted more access to local business support; more transparency; more competitive and fixed costs; more interest on their current account and easy access to funding for their businesses.” How can a fee paying account be more competitive than a free account?
In any case, the Santander U-turn is good news and illustrates that you should complain about things that you don’t think are right.