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Perth Diary

   

Banking on it

I had a possible job sent to me this morning. It was to do with creating content for a price comparision website.

This is part and parcel of the reaction to the recession here and elsewhere as well. People are trying to find different sources of cash, trying to find the cheapest ways of doing things and trying to retrieve money from other people and organisations.

In the local news this week, has been a company called Financial Redress. This is a company that enables people to get back money that are owed by the banks and credit card companies. I suppose that might sound a little strange but the money in question is credit card charges and fees.

 A huge trend

This has become a huge trend. The law usually states that the bank must charge for its services at a reasonable rate that the bank itself sets and that it must place this information in the terms and conditions.

That would seem to be pretty solid but legally, a customer has the right to claim back the charges and fees if they are too high and can be declared unreasonably so. It generally costs a couple of dollars for informing someone about a late fee on a payment and so on but quite often banks can charge anywhere from $10 to $50 for such fees. This is deemed to be too high so what Financial Redress does is fill in the claims for upto six years of banking charges and apply for the money to be returned to the claimant on the claimantís behalf.

It has taken off. The business is doing so well that in order to service all the claims they have currently received, they have temporarily decided not to take any new claims.  This is not the first incidence of this nature. In the U.K., the claims procedure has been temporarily halted until the legality of claims can all be checked thoroughly. There have been 750,000 people who have gone through the process and have had successful claims already and currently there are over a 100,000 people in the queue waiting for the process to restart so that they can get their cash back.

 You donít need a company to do it for you, it is possible to do it yourself, but hiring a law firm specialising in it does take out the hassle of hiring lawyers. This can be good because essentially the process does mean ending up in court for a hearing, where the judge has to decide whether the claim is valid or not.

If it is, the banks do have to pay. Clearly this will have an impact on the way banks start to do business in the future. There is a worry that if they do cut down their charges to comply with fair trade rulings that they will then insert those charges elsewhere. Credit cards may cut down their charges but then omit the 0% interest.

Fear and panic

But with the fear and panic going around at the moment regarding the current economic climate, most people are happy to get a few $1000ís back in bank fee reimbursement to pay their weekly rent and bills for the next couple of months.

It is rather ironic that banks were created to keep money safe and available with a slight fee to pay for the cost of doing so. You got money from the bank because that was where you kept it. Banking nowadays is a different kettle of fish. Now you get money from the bank because it is yours and they arenít giving it to you.

It might be worthwhile having a chat with your lawyer about claiming though you might want to make sure that you have several years of account statements to adequately track down all the charges and how much they cost. Go get any money that is yours from the bank ó thatís what it is there for.

ó Marisa Wikramanayake


 

 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 


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