The issue was variously presented as either an agreement between the watchdog and eight of the leading lenders (Reuters, 27 July) or a ‘victory for consumers’ (Daily Mail, 26 July). However, such a victory could mean new charges to cover the deficit, spelling the end for free banking.
The downside for customers engaged in disputes is that the FSA agreed banks could suspend the handling of claims until the case is resolved – a situation that some commentators believe could take years.
Within days, however, the FSA rebuked the banks for making false or misleading statements to customers: ‘Lies, scams and threats’, blasted the The Times (28 July), detailing various ways in which customers are allegedly penalised for daring to take action against their banks. Consumer champion Which? hailed it as a ‘victory for common sense’ (thisismoney.co.uk, 27 July) but investment website everyinvestor.co.uk dryly noted that ‘when it comes to banking, the banks never really lose’ (30 July).