Friday, July 20, 2012

Santander Free Business Accounts for Life?.....Not Any More!

I know that when a bank promises us something, we should not believe them, but when Santander vowed that they would be able to provide free business accounts for life, I had faith in them. I felt it was an odd thing to promise and wondered how it would be profitable, but figures that their reputation would suffer and maybe they would be breaking some laws if they did not stick to their claim. So I opened an account. This morning I got a letter explaining that they could no longer provide free accounts for businesses. They went on to provide me with a list of accounts and prices, with the one they felt suitable for me costing £7.50 a month (this was the cheapest, with the prices going up to £40 a month). So I would have to pay £90 a year. With my business making very low profits, that is a cost I do not want to pay and so decided to close my account immediately. I had two delightful conversations with the customer services staff. I explained to one of them that I no longer had free business banking for life but I was not dead so I did not understand. She saw the funny side but, unfortunately, was not able to tell me it was a mistake. The other was very understanding when I said I wanted to close my account although gently tried to encourage me to delay as the fees would not be coming in immediately. However, I wanted to make my point straight away and also not risk forgetting to close the account and having to pay the fees. Th £7.50 a month might be a competitive rate for all I know, but I closed my account partly out of protest. I felt this was unfair to make a claim and then start to charge. I also feel that there will be customers whose letter gets lost in the post or who do not read it properly and start paying the fee without realising that it exists. I have decided to mix my business account with my personal account. Most of my transactions go through Paypal anyway and so are easy to trace and because I keep my books up to date, each day adding any new transaction, then there is no risk of me mixing up my business and personal transactions. The only problem I may have is if I ever get paid by cheque made out to my business name. I will just have to make sure that no one makes this mistake and it is something that rarely happens anyway. The only higher cost I will have to bear from this is that my bank charges more for cashing foreign cheques than the business bank did. However, the cost is just £2 more per cheque and considering I tend to get one a quarter, I will still be significantly better off. It will be interesting to see whether the press runs with this story and puts any pressure on the bank to change their mind. Hmmm....but when did a bank ever change tehir mind in a way that was good for their customers...??

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