In 2006 the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) investigated charges applied by banks, building societies and credit card companies for late payments and over the limit fees. Their investigation found that many lenders were charging customers fees that were unfairly high. The bank charges were estimated to have brought in more than £300 million per year for lenders and many regarded them as a tax on the most financially vulnerable. The OFT's report urged swift actions by lenders to reduce the level of credit card default fees being charged. It is also made it clear these same principles should apply to overdraft charges, mortgages and store cards.
The OFT discovered bank charges of up to £35 were frequently charged. Worse still, these charges were applied on each separate occasion a person exceed their limit or made a late payment. Full fees were often charged whether someone was only a day late making their payment or exceeded their limit by just £1.Lenders tried to justify these fees by claiming they were necessary to cover administration costs, but The Office of Fair Trading rejected this. The report deemed that the acceptable maximum charge for bank charges, relating to over the limit fees and late payments, should be capped at £12.
The OFT did state that it was acceptable for a charge to be applied, but deemed this charge should only be used to recover administrative costs incurred including postage, staffing and some contribution towards the maintenance of IT systems. The OFT was confident that all this could be achieved within the £12 limit. As a result of the investigation, and subsequent report, most lenders reduced their bank charges to £12.
John Fingleton, The OFT's chief executive, said of the investigation:
'Our statement of principles provides practical guidance to banks which increases their incentives to compete vigorously while protecting consumers from being charged unfair amounts. Our threshold approach is a spur to changes in market practice. We expect credit card issuers to adjust their default fee levels quickly. We have not ruled out future legal action if the market does not respond positively.'
Although bank charges have now been reduced for many years many customers were forced to pay extortionate fees. For people in temporary or long-term financial difficult, these fees were often applied again and again and, over time, could easily amount to hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds. The good news is the OFT's investigation means customers who have been charged unfair fees can now claim a bank charges refund. If you would like to make a claim simply complete the quick claim form above and we will send you out a claims pack in the post. Complete the pack and return it to us and we will start processing your claim. We aim to start every new claim within 24 hours and you could receive your refund in as little as 8 weeks.
If you have had a credit card in the past you are urged to make a claim. There is no limit to how many claims you can make and you may still make a claim even if your credit card is paid off or you no longer have the account.
We have already helped thousands of people successfully reclaim bank charges and we work on a No Win No Fee* basis. If you have any questions, or you are not sure whether you can make a claim, call our customer care team on 0207 471 2000
blog comments powered by