THE END OF FREE BANKING?
“The best things in life are free,” cooed Luther Vandross and Janet Jackson in their 1992 hit of the same name. And they might well be right. A stroll in the sunshine. Fresh, bracing air. A smile at a stranger (well, before they call the police.) And, of course, your current account at the bank.
But, as the old adage goes, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. And according to the new head honcho of regulation for the financial services industry, Andrew Bailey, that extends to banking, too. In fact, Bailey believes the very concept of ‘free’ banking is a dangerous myth, with the costs covered elsewhere by barely-noticeable interest rates, whopping overdraft charges and PPI mis-selling. In fact, he claimed that free banking would mean that occurrences like the PPI debacle would just happen again, as the banks try and extract money out of us in some other way. Bailey rather disconcertingly described himself as “a dog with a bone” on this very topic (yikes) and if his suggestions to government are followed up on, we could well see an end to free banking, with customers paying annual or quarterly fees in order to keep their money with the bank.
Robert Peston, the official Voice of The Recession and BBC business editor, was on hand to comment. "He's saying you can't leave it to the banks to clean-up their act in this way," he honked to Radio 4’s Today Programme. "That's why he is saying - which I think is really pretty significant -that either the regulators or the government actually have to intervene to end the myth of free banking."
Consumer Focus threw its weight behind the idea. "There would be real value in establishing a more open and honest relationship between banks and their customers on what they get, how much it costs and whether others are offering better value for money," said Mike O'Connor, top dog at the organisation. "What must not happen is that consumers end up with the worst of both worlds - paying for accounts but still enduring unfair charges, opaque and complex products, mis-selling and poor customer service." Given the banks’ previous form when it comes to this sort of thing, we wouldn’t put it out of the realms of possibility.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“Just invited to Derby by financial PR. Don't accept freebies. Hate racing. Disapprove of gambling. Don't they do ANY research?”
Think twice before asking Paul Lewis, of Radio 4’s Moneybox fame, on a jolly.
CULTURE OF FEAR
The Money Shot’s long list of fears and phobias make for enthralling, and slightly disturbing reading. Buttons. Balloons. Baked beans. (Don’t ask.) Things beginning with ‘B’. Another one we’re wary of is burglary. And at least with this one, we’re in good company.
According to a poll of 2,000 people conducted by this very website, over half of the population live in fear of somebody breaking in to their house, and nearly a quarter of British people keep some sort of weapon close to their bed in case an intruder or burglar comes in at night. In fact more than half wouldn’t think twice before ‘confronting’ an intruder with a weapon of some sort.
Hopefully, it needn’t come to that. Have a read of these top anti-burglary tips, and keep the light-fingered swines at bay.
- Make your home as unattractive to a burglar as possible by fitting outside security lighting and securing your doors and windows. If you can afford it, consider installing a burglar alarm. Burglars are more likely to go for easy targets.
- If possible protect your boundaries with walls, fencing or dense hedging and have gates at access points.
- Try to make it look like the house is occupied even when it isn't. Keep a light on in the evening if you're out or even better use a timed light to go off and on at intervals to give the impression of activity within. When you're on holiday ask a neighbour to clear the post away from the door and remember to cancel things like milk and newspaper deliveries.
- Keep valuables like laptops, expensive phones, cameras and car keys out of view from windows and close your curtains at night. Leaving valuables on show may tempt a burglar to ‘have a go'.
- Keep outbuildings secure and keep things like bicycles, lawnmowers and power tools safely locked away.- And finally make sure your home and belongings are protected by an adequate home insurance policy, just in case.
NEWS IN BRIEF
A blow against hidden card charges has been struck. European judges have ruled against MasterCard charging retailers for every transaction. Bravo!
Consumer champion Which? has ‘slammed’ supermarkets, saying that they mislead customers on discounts, after looking at prices of over 700,000 items.
£4.1m worth of counterfeit coins have been discovered in rural Hertfordshire. Inflation has fallen to its lowest rate for two years.
‘Astronomical charges’ on Britain’s worst pensions, sold in the 70s, 80s and 90s are leaving savers hundreds of thousands of pounds worse off in retirement, according to the Daily Mail.
ON GOCOMPARE.COM NEWS THIS WEEK
Garden theft – like your auntie’s prize runner beans, it’s on the rise, said Kristian Dando.
Veterinary legend Joe Inglis stepped up to answer more of our reader’s pet problems.
This week, we’ve got a Staffie with halitosis, and a poodle called Cha-Cha who doesn’t like having their toenails cut.
“Hey, you! Yes, You! You could do with some life insurance,” advised financial whizz Felicity Hannah.
Our Fliss also instructed on how to get free stuff from your energy provider. No, really.
Rural Britain has long had sightings of ‘beasts’ – large, black panther-like creatures stalking fields and worrying livestock - the so-called Beast of Bodmin Moor being the most prominent. But when residents of the London borough of Hackney reported tales of a huge, dark four-legged creature on the marshes, eyebrows were raised.
The residents of the area have enough to worry about – the forthcoming Olympics, more riots breaking out, over-gentrification of Stoke Newington, Diane Abbott – without a huge, hoodie-eating monster roaming the mean streets.
Thankfully, the so-called ‘beast’ was nothing more than a huge Newfoundland dog, belonging to none other than the drummer out of popular 90s beat combo Kula Shaker, Paul Winter-Hart. The ‘Tattva’ hitmaker’s wife told the Hackney Gazette: "My husband recognised her straight away when he saw the paper. He brought a copy to show me and said: 'Look. Willow's made the front page. I knew it was her immediately. It is funny because our friends call her the Beast of Dunlace Road and now she is the Beast of Hackney Marshes'."
Join us for another thrilling instalment of THE MONEY SHOT. In the meantime, why not email the editor with your letters. If we print them, you could receive a prized Gocompare.com stationery set and an autographed picture of Gio Compario, star of our award winning* ad campaign. Three are up for grabs every week. (Promoter: Gocompare.com Ltd) *Marketing magazine’s ‘Most Irritating Advert’ 2009/2010