THE MONEY MENSCH
Award-winning TV and radio presenter Martin Lewis, best known for his MoneySavingExpert.com website, shares his cash-saving tips with JC readers
Reclaiming bank charges I believe any penalty charge for going beyond your overdraft, having a bounced cheque or direct debit, is unlawful. The banks’ view is different, however. Yet over the last year, we have seen a common financial problem bring about the first full-blown consumer revolution I can recall, and I am proud to have been involved in it since the early days. If you have had bank charges imposed over the last six years, they may add up to hundreds or even thousands of pounds. Now the likelihood is that you can get your money back. The main law in question says any fines must be proportional to the cost incurred, yet when a bank charges you £35, all it has really done is dispatched an automated letter with a stamp on it. My argument, therefore, is that this is not proportional. After all, what does it really cost? £1? £2? To get your money back, simply write to the bank, pointing out that if it doesn’t make the repayment, you will take the matter to a small claims conference. A staggering number of people get a payout at this stage. And if you do take them to court using the internet moneyclaims system, the bank will almost certainly not put up a defence and you will win by default. Since November 15, over 300,000 template letters for pursuing a claim have been downloaded from my website. So the banks are under attack from all sides.