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Laurence Inman’s Blog

IT’S ALL AT THE CO-OP – NOW!

16-04-2009

Laurence Inman has had one or two run-ins with the banks. Can’t think why.

I first became aware that banks might not have my best interests at heart, even though I was a customer, in the late sixties. ‘My’ bank (or rather, my ‘bank’) was the Westminster. I went to them because I liked the name. It sounded solid and dependable.

Anyway, one day they decided to send me a letter telling me that I was £1 14s 6d overdrawn. I knew this already. They also told me that the cost of sending the letter was £1 15s. They had more than doubled my overdraft by telling me that I had an overdraft.

At that time a stamp cost 5d. The paper and envelope ? Hardly anything. Even if they paid the typist £30,000 a year (the price of more than two Prime Ministers in those days) it still wouldn’t warrant charging me the best part of two quid.

Of course, I had to point this out in a letter of my own didn’t I ? It was a long letter, liberally larded with quotes from Wordsworth and Spinoza. They wrote me one back! This time it was two quid! It didn’t take me long to work out that if this carried on I would soon disappear up my own fiscal deficit.

I changed banks. (Well, I put my next term’s grant cheque in a different bank.) Westminster became Natwest. They never asked me what I thought.

Years later I was in Lloyds. They really got on my nerves with their stupid letters so I went to the Midland. I live in the Midlands after all. They became HSBC (again, no consultation) and left me high and dry in a foreign capital unable to use my debit card. I should have got prior permission to go abroad apparently.

So I went to the Halifax. God knows what they’re called at the moment. I also had my mortgage with them, till I went to Direct Line after an argument over the astronomical cost of their home insurance. But I stayed with the bank because they paid 1% on all my current account transactions (oh the jargon!) up to £100,000 and a bit less beyond.

It meant that every February they ‘gave’ me about £107, which I found fairly acceptable. But then they decided to pay me a flat £5 a month instead, and I had to keep £1000 ahead. I was losing at least £47 a year, which I suppose they used to pay for that dumb ad on the telly where hundreds of extras climb on top of each other to personally deliver the measly fiver to surprised and grateful punters.

And now Norwich Union, with whom I have a money-relationship for only a few weeks more, are changing their name to Aviva. Without my consent, of course.

What could sound more stable than Norwich Union ? What does Aviva mean ? It could be a trade association for spivs. And why do they have to insult me with their ad (Ringo Starr, Bruce Willis, et al, insisting that their name change was the key to prosperity and happiness.)

Ringo says: ‘Would any of this have happened to me if I’d stayed Richard Starkey?’

Yes, Ringo, it would. You were in The Beatles! George Harrison had an ordinary name. He wasn’t Tex Moonbeam.

So, by the beginning of next month, all these wide boys are going to have to finance their deceptions without my help. I’m putting all my affairs into the hands of the Co-op. And if one day they decide to call themselves Trouserwarmth Inc, it’ll all go under the mattress.

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