I took one of my Banks to court… and Won! More accurately, after writing lots of very specific letters and so on, I started legal proceedings in the Small Claims Court, and they finally settled without accepting liability (as you might expect). The case was about the charges they had put on my account for refusing to pay direct debits because there were not enough funds in the account.
I’d had a few really bad periods in the last few years where I simply was not keeping up-to-date with my personal accounts. So, I fully accept that any additional work that I had to do to make sure second-attempt payments were made was entirely my fault. Furthermore, I also believe that it is legitimate for the bank to charge me a fee because of all that extra effort they had to go to, to automatically send me a letter… but I never did agree with the scale of the charges. I am talking ‘conceptual’ agreement here – I realise that their charges are essentially connected to their terms and conditions, I’m just saying – “The charges always seemed a little bit steep”.
And blow me, it turns out that it has been a part of English law for nearly one hundred years that it is illegal to profit from breaking a condition of a contract – an alternative way of putting it is that if – because Jo Bloggs missed a payment and as a result you had to spend 50p to send them a letter… you can only claim the 50p back from them!
For much much more on the legal issues, support groups, and a really useful website in general, see www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk