While Barclays’ new advertising extols the merits of being big, the
bank was forced to carry the can for leading the campaign to impose
surcharges for non-customers using their ATMs. They were accused of
using their size to squeeze the building societies and e-banks in a
’calculated attack on recent entrants into the banking market’
(Independent, 4 March).
Smaller rivals accused Barclays of committing a ’big public relations
blunder’ (FT, 3 March).
The Link’s decision to force through the changes in pricing gave Trade
and Industry Secretary Stephen Byers, ’a man desperate for a cause to
call his own’ according to the Times’ Anne Ashworth (4 March), a chance
to wield a big stick at the banks. Sceptical commentators pointed out
how many big bank employees are seconded to the DTI. Consumers’
champions urged customers to use cashback facilities at supermarkets,
garages and pubs. Barclays’ insistence, with backing from Lloyds TSB and
Abbey National, that the surcharges are fair were a straw blowing in the
wind, compared to the force of consumer fury.
Analysis and commentary by Echo Research. Cuttings by Durrants. More
information can be found at: www.echoResearch.com.