WHAT THE PAPERS SAY: Bank code looks set to bounce

The long-awaited new voluntary code for high street banks, promising a 'sympathetic and positive' approach to dealing with debtors, was launched by the British Banking Association (BBA) and mixed coverage in the press.

The changes had already been trailed and the result was a watered down version of the original. Internet financial site the Motley Fool accused the BBA of being 'a PR machine for the banks' (fool.co.uk, 31 March).

Other critics were Which?, who described it as a 'missed opportunity' (The Guardian, 31 March) and Help The Aged, which accused banks of discriminating against customers 'solely on the grounds of age' (BBC, 30 March).

Angela Knight, BBA chief executive, said the code 'gives strong commitments that banks will lend responsibly and will help customers' (FT, 31 March).

However, newspapers pointed out that recent 'customer revolts' over unauthorised overdraft fees is not covered.

One leader column warned the banks that 'these new promises had better not bounce,' (The Independent, 31 March).

Based on 26 items from 27 March - 1 April 2008

Analysis conducted by Echo Research from data supplied to PRWeek from NewsNow.


Many bloggers becoming aware of this on the 1st April thought the BBA's new banking code was the best April Fool's joke of the day. Many of those posting messages seemed unaware that this was only a voluntary code, and not something the banks had to stick to. Those aware it was voluntary, exasperatingly questioned the point of anything that is only a guideline for big business not a law.

The news, of course, stimulated bloggers to share war stories from dealings with banks and there was an undoubted sense of solidarity as writers found solace in the experiences of others. Many published the letters they sent to banks as well as the ones they'd received back.

Unlike the papers, bloggers as a group astutely picked apart all aspects of the code's fine print and offered these as solutions to the numerous questions readers had about particular grievances when dealing with banks. Bloggers also posted actual sections from the banking code that contradicted directly with the experiences they'd had with their banks.

As well as ePetitions that went round the blogs (one against advertising on cash machines being a favourite) bloggers offered ‘fun facts' about banking, most notably the question "What financial product is not subject to specific FSA or OFT regulation - like the way mortgages, life cover loans, insurance are?" The answer - "Bank current accounts."

Analysis conducted by Nielsen Online from a source of over 70 million blogs www.nielsen-online.com





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