Who Gives You Less-tra

Do you know what the difference is between a credit card and a debit card? See if it matches my understanding. A credit card is a way of spending money that you haven’t got, an on the spot loan as it were that you then pay interest on. A debit card, on the other hand, is a way of spending money that you do have in your bank account and if it isn’t, then you can’t.

Not so apparently. Just before Christmas, we were out buying a few last minute bits and pieces, six to be precise. Mrs P used her debit card knowing that funds in her account, but thinking that she would get the knock back if the money ran out. Now in January she has discovered that you can go ‘overdrawn’ on a debit card and for each of those six purchases she has been charged £30, plus some sort of “naughty, naughty” fee to take total somewhat north of £200. For going around £50 ‘overdrawn’. Which you can’t do, obviously.

Oh yes you can, at least according to the oxymoronic helpline operator. Apparently the stores can ignore the fact that the cash isn’t there and accept the payment. So why aren’t they the ones getting stung with the £30 fines?

I won’t bore you with the details of the ongoing saga, the failed promised calls from a manager, different scripts from operatots in Mumbai, or thereabouts, and bits of the Halifax that open out of office hours and those, like the fraud office that only work nine to five. Two items on Mrs P’s statement that contributed to the ‘overdraft’ are worth pointing out though:

  1. A cheque for £60 from 2005 cashed at the end of 2006. We can find out what it is only by ordering a statement, cost £5, and yet for years the computers/people have checked our cheque numbers to know when to send us a new chequebook. And surely cheques have a cash-by date?
  2. One for a cash withdrawal for £42.38. Yeah, right, ATMs dishing out coins? Or a rather Asperger’s exact amount when at the till at Morrisons?

It’s sad really as Mrs P has been a Halifax customer since before I knew her and, despite the fact that we have both savings and accounts with them, still they make it hard, if not impossible, to challenge punitive penalties. (What’s the name for the opposite of an oxymoron, as in the end of that sentence? As in “new innovations”? Too cross to think straight.)

Moral of the tale is that the Halifax is crap. Outsourced, out-moded and definitely out of here. They see a debit card line crossed, not our savings and mortgage accounts, both of which are healthy and high and which will be heading into the sunset come the morrow.

Bankers? Well it rhymes.

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

5 comments… Add yours
  • Yorkshire Pudding 23rd January 2007

    Let’s all sing along now – “Get a little extra help from the Hal-i-fax!”
    I’m in smile myself. Check it out! It’s an arm of the Co-op bank. I have always been very happy with them and the online facilities available plus they have arrangements with the post office for paying in cheques etc.

  • Graeme 23rd January 2007

    Not sure if this’ll help, but might be worth considering:


    Basically it says banks shouldn’t be able to punish you for going overdrawn, but they can recover their reasonable costs.. which won’t be £30 for each instance.

    And I looked into sell by dates on cheques a while ago when I found an old one I’d forgotten to cash. The general rule is 6 months, but banks can accept cheques outside of 6 months at their discretion.

  • Steve 24th January 2007

    Mr and Mrs Parrot. Sincerely, check out what Graeme has just pointed you to.

    Two friends of my lads have just received substantial refunds.

    Apparently banks are no longer allowed to make excessively punitive charges.

    They’re breaking the law.

    Screw ’em.


  • J.J 24th January 2007

    Christ – I would be spitting (parrot) feathers if I were you. That is simply day light robbery.

    Glad you are voting with your feet.

  • Shooting Parrots 24th January 2007

    Latest: The Halifax has capitulated and returned all Mrs P’s money but, Christ on a bike, you don’t half have to work hard for it.


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