After our action group had a win over Santander in their attempt to hoodwink us on Business Banking charges, you'd think I'd be done with beating them up for a while.
Not so. From tomorrow, they intend to inflict more pain on 400,000 mortgage customers by increasing their standard variable rate ('SVR') by half a percent to 4.74%. Oh, and yet again, they've reneged on a promise - that the SVR will be never be more than 3.75 percentage points above
the Bank Rate - by raising the cap. The words 'guarantee' and 'promise' obviously don't translate well into Spanish.
Their reason? They say 'the cost of providing mortgages has risen over the past three years'. And why? Because of the 'need to meet tighter regulatory demands, which in part require them to build up a bigger capital buffer'.
The irony is killing. Why has governance made organisations such as these so top heavy cost-wise in the first place? Because they couldn't be trusted to give their clients a fair deal on their own. You can you imagine the contempt they must have held for investors and borrowers alike, to have to be TOLD to treat them fairly - isn't the first rule of business to build trust and goodwill with your customers if you want them to come back?
Coming from the days when retail banking was a profession I proudly represented as a regional manager in Australia, I've now become totally disillusioned with the banks. Instead of putting service first, they bombard us with reams of the small print that we all fought to eliminate a few decades ago (whatever became of the 'Crystal Mark'?), in which they disguise strategies deliberately calculated to catch us all out at some time or another - just ask any small investor who, perversely, has to change banks every year if they want to avoid an automatic rollover offering only fractions of a percent. As BBC Watchdog pointed out, they actually rely on us not to check the anniversary of our investments in the hope that we don't notice. Not to mention their heavy sales techniques (driven by target not need, as evidenced by recent mis-selling scandals).
Now, I can't understand why the banks aren't making money. Back in 'my day', banks and building societies could lend out around ten times the amount they held on deposit, on the basis that not everyone would want to draw on their investments at the same time. So why, when the investments they're offering paltry returns on can generate multiple parcels of borrowing at a higher rate, are they crying poor? Could it be something to do with needing to replenish the coffers of the investment arms they so irresponsibly decimated? - and which they are now so reluctant to separate from their high street business?
Make no mistake - Joe Average is paying for 'The 1%' to shaft him again and again. Someone pass the KY.