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Daily View: Overdraft charges

Clare Spencer | 09:19 UK time, Thursday, 26 November 2009

Cash withdrawalThe Supreme Court has overturned earlier court rulings that allowed the Office of Fair Trading to investigate the fairness of charges for unauthorised overdrafts. The Commentators are split between those who think the charges are fair and those who think it is a blow for consumers.

In the red corner standing up against overdraft charges is the Independent leader article which admits the paper was surprised by the outcome. It says the decision did not reject the idea that customers had been treated unfairly and urged the Office of Fair Trading to continue fighting.

David Prosser continues the fighting talk in the Independent saying the banks have won the battle but they mustn't win the war against high overdraft fees:

"As soon as a court gets to rule on the legality of these fees - rather than the technicalities of the OFT's remit - yesterday's setback will be reversed."

Alex Brummer in the Daily Mail suggests what the banks should do now regardless of what they are allowed to do:

"If they had any sense they would put the case of customers ahead of their own employers and perhaps use bonus pots to compensate."

Gerald Warner in the Telegraph thinks overdraft charges will become an election issue, with the voters supporting whoever offers to "crucify" the banks. He is not impressed with the argument that this is a technical ruling:

"So let's hear no unsporting and uninformed complaints from ignorant laymen, just because they have been robbed of a few thousand pounds. Once again, the sophisticated interpretation has triumphed."

The personal finance editor of the Times Andrew Ellson says this is a blow for the customers:

"The sad reality is that the chequebooks, cash machines and internet banking that many customers currently enjoy at no cost are cross-subsidised by overdraft charges that fall disproportionately on those who are least able to afford them."

In the black corner, supporting the outcome Julian Goldmith at Bnet and Ian King in the Times both argue that this protects savers and free banking.

Damien Reece in the Telegraph thinks the regulators shouldn't stop here:

"If regulators wanted to do something useful they would either stop banks offering unauthorised overdrafts (too much regulation for my liking) or allow banks to double the fees on them to act as a real deterrent."

Also in the Telegraph, Ian Cowie says the Supreme Court's ruling stood up for savers who he thinks are often ignored:

"Borrowers make far more noise than savers because borrowers tend to be younger, more telegenic and better represented in the media; both in front of the camera and behind it."

Natalie Haynes in the Times dismisses the argument that overdraft charges hit the poor:

"It is perfectly possible to be skint and not go overdrawn. For a start, banks offer a basic bank account that won't allow you to."

Links in full

Damien Reece | Telegraph | Overdraft ruling strikes a blow for common sense
Ian Cowie | Telegraph | Supreme Court was right to stand up for beastly bankers
David Prosser | Independent | The customers are in the right
Natalie Haynes | Times | You can be poor and not overdrawn, you know
Independent | The campaign for fair bank charges must go on
Alex Brummer | Daily Mail | Making amends at the bank
Gerald Warner | Telegraph | Votes are on offer to the party that will crucify banks
Ian King | Times | Times for the silent majority
• Andrew Ellson | Times | Decision is bad for consumers and competition
Julian Goldsmith | BNet | Overdraft Fees: The Pitfalls of 'Free'


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