On banks paying interest to people with mortgages or how NOT to run a banking operation: The answer

So it finally happened. This morning I received the letter from Birmingham Midshires answering the million dollar question: What happens when the Bank of England takes the base interest rate down to 0.5% or below and you are paying them 0.5% or higher below BoE base rate?

Well, since the bank’s decision back in March 5, it has taken them over a month to communicate with customers, but if you had hopes of getting paid for having a mortgage (absurd and ridicule thought, but these are absurd and ridicule times), drop it, in an interest only mortgage BM informs me that:

We’re writing to you following the Bank of England’s decision on 5 March 2009 to decrease the Base Rate. We’ll be reducing our interest rates on 1 April 2009, and so you’ll receive the benefit of the reduced rate from this date. We want to keep you informed of how these changes will affect you as outlined below. Continue reading

On HSBC fighting ferociously against online banking convenience

Hobbes, I guess by now you must know I try to keep my paws away from the planned incompetence and limitations of nowadays branch banking.

In a number of occasions I have denounced how by planned sheer incompetence banks are pushing us towards online and telephone banking while making online and telephone more and more difficult and inconvenient for us.

The most ridiculous in-branch lunacy I can find so far is the open air telephone banking booths at HSBC branches, no staff member can discuss your credit card issues, but you are addressed to use the phone in the middle of the branch, right by the queue, where every idle person in line will have no other thing to do, but listen to your credit matters while looking the other way. So much for privacy. So much for customer care.

Continue reading

On banks paying interest to people with mortgages or how NOT to run a banking operation (II)

And the rate is now down to 1%.

0.44% to go before I start asking my bank “where is my money!!

On Pret-a-Manger running out of fresh ideas. Are private equity firm Bridgepoint and Goldman Sachs squeezing the customer?

Hobbes, they say that the first step is always to recognise the problem. OK Hobbes, I agree, I have an addiction. Well, more than one, but this one is cheese-related.

I am a keen Pret a Manger victim, and the guilty sin is their Posh Cheddar & Pickle Artisan Baguette. I have gone through many tantrums with the company. Over time the baguette has turned into a petit baguette, the price has ridden the oil, milk and wheat price increases but stayed there since the summer (£2.99) regardless of falling commodity prices. Continue reading

On Barclays customer services trying to mend bridges? There are no bridges to be mended, just apologise and refund your fees

A few weeks ago I wrote what was then the latest of my bank problems (On Barclays profiteering…)

That very day, I tried to send them my complaint using their disastrous online form. For some reason I couldn’t work out (probably the length of my letter?) I couldn’t send it, so I just wrote that, that I had a complaint but couldn’t send it.

Lucky enough, I received an acknowledgement reply from them (customer.relations@barclays.co.uk) and I sent them my too-long-for-your-complaint-form complaint.

Continue reading

On drivers loosing concentration or Council’s credit crunch short-term solution to empty coffers

Today on my daily commute to work (South Bucks to Central London) I have noticed a novelty to my rather dull drive.

Today, the 20-odd miles have turned into a journey of anthropological and public finances discovery. In 25 minutes I have seen 7 drivers pulled (or being pulled) over by police.

I am pretty sure that that is no coincidence. It cannot be. I spent my midday drive wondering about possible reasons for the unusually high level of speeders. Is it the credit crunch that makes every single driver pre-occupied and unaware of mobile and static speeding cameras. Continue reading

On Argentinians being the first ones to be ripped-off by their own government, who will be next?

Hobbes, forget the Falklands (Malvinas in Spanish), it seems that the Argentinian government has finally decided to follow the master and improve on it.

When you thought outrageous that Chancellor Gordon Brown (now British Premier) dipped into the private pension pot to cover current government expenses, last month President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner announced that she planned to nationalise the 14-year-old private pension system. Yesterday the senate passed the bill.

Continue reading