Getting my bank charges back – one result, one claim filed at court!

Blurred pic of Laganside Court

My current bank, Smile, very kindly deposited £400 in my bank account this morning. And it cost me nothing. Why?

I’ve decided to do what loads of other people have been doing, and claim back all the bank charges that have been placed on my current accounts. I was down in court today (sorry for the blurred pic above!) filing a claim to get charges back from my old bank.

I am really pretty good with money now – ‘cos I use Microsoft Money to keep track of all my accounts, bills etc., I always know how much money I have left before I get paid. (It’s a shame I can’t find something similar for the Mac which does everything Money does, but in the meantime I’m just using Money in Virtual PC. Seems like there’s lots of other people looking for something similar though.)

Anyway, I digress. Basically Smile only owed me £400, and that’s going back four years. But my old bank, the Royal Bank of Scotland, owe me around £500. That’s mainly because when I joined the BBC as a trainee, my salary fell by two thirds of what I’d been getting paid at Sainsbury’s. So I was always going overdrawn while I tried to adjust to life on my lower salary.

Claiming back your bank charges

You can claim back six years’ worth of bank charges (five if you live in Scotland), and the basic process is as follows….

  1. You write your bank a letter asking for all your bank statements, or a list of charges from the last six years. Banks say they charge a fee for each page of statements, but that’s rubbish. Under the Data Protection Act, they are only allowed to charge you up to £10 in total per request. You can find a template letter here which you can copy, paste and amend as necessary. You need to send it recorded delivery as proof of when you posted it, and keep the receipt.
  2. The bank get 40 days to send you your statements
  3. You total up the relevant charges, and send the bank another letter (which you can download here). They get 14 days to refund the charges back into your account (although it also works with closed accounts). Again you need to send it recorded delivery.
  4. If you haven’t got your charges back within 14 days, you take them to court (basically the bank will pay up before the case comes to court).

I’d already given the Royal Bank more than 14 days to refund my charges, and still haven’t heard from them, so I filed against them in the small claims court today, which was easy. Now I just have to sit back and wait….

Above is really an overview of what you need to do, but for a more detailed guide, check out the guides and forums at the Penaltycharges.co.uk web site. You should definitely give it a go – even if you’re good with your money, you have nothing to lose. You might also end up getting more money back than you think!