Abuse towards staff justified closing account

Categories:
Closing accounts
Summary:
Hamish’s bank wrote to advise him that it would close his accounts because of his history of abusive behaviour towards bank staff. It said he had 14 days to make other banking arrangements. The bank said he was often moody and angry and used derogatory language. He also made a staff member uncomfortable with inappropriate questions about her life and income.

Our investigation

After his account was closed, Hamish complained to us about the inconvenience this had caused: he had been forced to open a new bank account and set up new arrangements to pay bills. Hamish did not accept he had abused bank staff. He said abuse was physical, not verbal, in nature.

We explained that we did not have the power to consider his complaint because it was solely about the bank’s decision to close his account. Banks are entitled to end their relationship with a customer at any time. However, the Code of Banking Practice requires them to give at least 14 days’ notice before closing an account. The terms and conditions of the account also contain account closure information. In this case, the terms and conditions allowed the bank to close an account if it believed it had reasonable grounds to do so.

The bank had given the necessary notice. It also had reasonable grounds, in our view, to close the account because of the way Hamish had spoken to bank staff. We did not agree with him that abuse could be solely physical.

Separately, Hamish complained that his bank had charged him an unarranged overdraft fee each time he overdrew his account. This had happened four times in five months. The bank refunded two of the four fees as a goodwill gesture because of his financial difficulties. Hamish also said it was unreasonable and legally questionable to charge the fees.

We said we couldn't consider whether unarranged overdraft fees were reasonable. His account's terms and conditions allow the bank to charge him an unarranged overdraft fee if he overdrew his account without having an approved overdraft facility in place, which he did not. The amount the bank charged him was in accordance with its standard schedule of charges. We could not question their reasonableness. 

Outcome

Hamish did not agree with our view about either complaint.

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