After being at the Association of Corporate Treasurers annual bash last week, sponsored by Royal Bank of Scotland, I got home and found a note from NatWest, the UK subsidiary of Royal Bank of Scotland, saying that there had been changes to the charges on my business account.
It didn’t explain why all the charges were going up, but just had the line:
"We have revised your business tariff. Please refer to the enclosed charging leaflet which details your tariff which will apply from 2 June 2008."
No please’s or thank you’s. Just tough. Like it or lump it.
No wonder banks are viewed as disconnected.
So I looked at the leaflet for the new charges, and here’s a selection of the changes:
Old Charge New Charge
BACS direct debits 38p 40p
BACS files processed £4.40 £5.00
Standing Orders 40p 45p
Cash withdrawn / paid in at branches 57p per £100 63p per £100
Autopay services 28p 45p
Minimum charge per month Free £10
I wondered why they did not explain, justify or discuss why there were all of these sudden increases. After all, to just be told "We’re putting up your charges, tough" is quite annoying.
And the letter wasn’t even from my Business Account Relationship Manager, but from some chap called Steve Pateman, CEO, UK Business Banking.
Then I found the answer in today’s Financial Times, which has a headline stating that RBS are trying to end free corporate banking as a new policy. They say this will affect just a few thousand ‘legacy’ customers.
Funny that. I only opened my account in 2003 and did not think I was a legacy after only five years.
So why would RBS do something that could be so potentially damaging to ‘thousands’ of corporate accounts?
Could it be that they hope most corporates do not care or change their account? Or could it be that they are trying to make up for RBS’s poor results, the ABN AMRO acquisition, subprime losses, their depressed share price, Fred’s ego and a £12 billion rights issue … surely not, as that would just be mean wouldn’t it?