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Don’t be bribed, bank campaign group warns high street customers

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Move Your Money, a consumer campaign urging people to switch from high street banks to alternative providers, has warned customers to be cautious of “hollow sweeteners” on offer from ‘bad’ banks.

The official launch of the new switching service, which will guarantee that banks allow customers to change accounts within seven working days, is scheduled for Monday September 16.

Some 33 banks and building societies, making up most of the current account marketplace, will offer the service to consumers, small charities and small businesses. It is thought that the £750m government-backed scheme will increase competition in the market and loosen the grip of the big banks that dominate the market.

The Move Your Money statement is a response to research published by the Payments Council, in which 70% of people who would consider switching said better deals are an overwhelming attraction.

The study also claimed that current account holders in the UK are “creatures of habit”, with 27% of current account holders using the same provider as one or both of their parents, while only 6% of Britons have switched their bank account in the past two years.

It claims that at an average of 17 years, our current account relationships last longer than the average British marriage at 11 years and six months.

Laura Willoughby, chief executive of Move Your Money, said, “It is five years since the beginning of the economic crisis and the banks are still hungry for your money. They are offering hollow sweeteners to keep you loyal, whilst carrying on with bad banking as usual.

“Banks make on average £139 in charges from each customer every year. Once you know that, the bribes look less enticing. You should ask your bank to drop bank charges altogether if they want you to stay.

“With seven-day switching becoming a reality, we don’t need to stick with bad banks and their outrageous charges, poor customer service and massive director bonuses. Why reward banks we have had to bailout with our taxes, or stick with those that rigged interest rates through Libor or mis-sold us PPI? They do not deserve our loyalty.”

According to statistics released in July by uSwitch.com, as many as 42% of current account holders are likely to change banks when the switch service is launched.

Meanwhile, similar research by YouGov from October 2012 found that 14.1 million high street banking customers might ditch their providers if they believed switching was easy.

Move your Money is asking customers to highlight new bribes through social media, using the Twitter hashtag #bribewatch.

Further reading:

Two in five will move banks after launch of switching scheme in September

‘Payback time’ for big banks, as launch date for switching service announced 

Bank customers reveal switching fears – but 80% say process is easy 

Government backs £750m IT system to make switching banks simpler

Public urged to wage ‘guerilla war’ against big banks

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