In common with one-and-a-half million other people, I entrust my money to the UK's third-largest building society - the Coventry. It just happens to be my local one, and while I'm not as a general rule particularly sold on the ethos of supporting local businesses per se, it is convenient - although most of my transactions are done online anyway. In recent years, the UK banking industry has come in for some pretty harsh stinging criticism, so it's perhaps not surprising that Coventry Building Society sets great store on being owned by their members (aka customers) with the slogan TLC not PLC. Hmm...
Also in common with x million other people, I don't keep a lot of money in my account sitting earning negligible interest- just enough to cover bills, basically. While I log on and check transactions/balances pretty regularly, I have a life and I have better things to do than monitor it 24/7! So I was dismayed to discover yesterday that a couple of Direct Debits had escaped my attention and had been "bounced", the CBS ripping me off to the tune of £20 each for the privilege of doing so, according to a couple of smug little messages which had appeared in my inbox. I use the term "rip-off" there advisedly, as these extortionate fees have been the subject of much dissatisfaction from bank customers in recent years and were the subject of a failed attempt by the Office of Fair Trading to get them outlawed by the Courts. Even though the true cost to the bank of a processing a failed DD has been reliably estimated at around £2-£2.50, I suppose I should console myself with the fact I'm only out of pocket to the extent of £40: the going rate at other UK banks is almost twice that. Nevertheless, adding another £20 apiece to the cost of a couple of things I'd bought for a few quid each seems to me to be just adding insult to injury.
I shan't bother complaining: someone's got to pay for the Directors' fat bonuses. Despite a fancy advertising slogan promising "we listen to customers", there are none as deaf as those that won't hear. However, next time the cashier serves me with the customary line of idle chit-chat patter... "and how's your day?" I shall be sorely tempted to tell him/her - in words of one syllable!
**Update - see next entry: Monday 11 June **