Will it be a hollow victory for bank customers..?

THE ‘Big Four’ banks here are basically a cartel of rip-off merchants, if the General Consumer Council is to be believed. Today, the GCC has been celebrating (perhaps prematurely) a “major victory” for customers after the Competition Commission published proposals “to sort out the anti-competitive and anti-consumer personal current account market here”. But what happens when the banks a) laugh in the face of these toothless recommendations, or b) withdraw free banking services and start charging instead (as happens elsewhere in the EU)?The proposed package of remedies includes:

Use easy-to-understand descriptions of current account services

Provide clear explanations on the levels of charges and interest rates and how and when they are applied-available

Provide better information on statements including details on charges and interest rates

Provide to each customer an annual summary of charges and interest payments

Give customers at least 14 days’ notice of charges and debit interest incurred from the date of their monthly statement before these are deducted from their account

Send an annual reminder to customers about their right to close their account or switch it to another bank

Introduce improvements to the switching process, including offering a charge-free and interest-free overdraft facility to new customers for at least three months