'Easy banking effect' is anything but for disgruntled current account customers

Tue, Oct 2, 2012, 01:00

A NUMBER OF readers have contacted us to give out about Bank of Ireland. People are very unhappy with the bank’s decision to change its current account charges and make it next to impossible for hundreds of thousands of its customers to avoid paying fees.

Under the changes to its fee structure, from the middle of November free banking will only be available to customers who leave €3,000 permanently in their current account. This money will not earn any interest.

Previously customers who had €3,000 going through their accounts over a three-month period and made nine online transactions also avoided charges.

That is not the only change at the bank in recent weeks. It has also sent out flyers in which it announces a serious curtailment of branch services, yet it appears anxious to dress this news up as positive for customers.

The flyer in question – which we got in the post from a reader yesterday – is headlined: “I’ve found ways that give me more time to do what I like to do. That’s the easy banking effect”. Inside the brochure the bank announces that from October 22nd, “only international payments valued more than €3,000 will be processed at the counter”. Credit card payments will no longer be accepted at the counter nor will payments into a non-Bank of Ireland accounts.

The bank will also refuse to sell bank drafts at branch counters unless the are valued at more than €500. If you want to make a payment of under that amount, it suggests that customers move towards online banking.

Quite how this reduction in the number of services offered by one of the State’s main banks is good news for any of its customers is anyone’s guess, but that’s banks for you!

Then there is the rate increase. A reader contacted us last week and was furious that her standard variable rate mortgage with Bank of Ireland was going up by a fairly eye-watering half a per cent – someone with a mortgage of €300,000 will have to find close to €1,000 a year to cover the rate increase.

“I called the Bank of Ireland number listed and eventually got through. I asked why they increased the interest rate, a fair question, I thought,” she writes.

However she was told that the person on the other end of the phone did not know.

“So I asked for an email address to contact someone that would know. I was told there was no point, as the bank doesn’t have to justify their reasons for increasing their interest rates and reminded me that that was what I signed up for back in 2002.”