Monday 1 April 2013

Come back Co-op Bank, all is forgiven

A few weeks ago, I had an online rant at the expense of Co-op Bank.  I had a very polite and helpful reply from them afterwards - a series of them actually - and it is now time to set the record straight on one or two things.

First, there is no way they use the insidious American-style high-to-low transaction re-ordering software, I'm glad to say.  They tot up our balances at the end of every day and charge accordingly.  There is no manipulation of the order in which we carry out our transactions, as some banks do.  So thank goodness for that.

Second, their ethical policy does apply to investments carried out with other companies.  They apply a basic ethical screen, to screen out investment in tobacco, arms and nuclear energy, and then apply their ethical engagement policy.  This is what they say:

"It may be useful to outline the Co-operative Investments Ethical Engagement Policy (EEP), which covers insurance and investment products. The EEP was launched in 2005 following extensive customer consultations and over 45,000 customer replies. It covers 8 areas of customer concern including human rights, animal welfare and environmental sustainability and we report every year on how we’ve been doing in our Sustainability Report which you can find on the internet at:

"Our investment products generally invest across the entire range of market sectors and indeed we are required to do so by the Financial Services Authority in order to spread financial risk. The Ethical Engagement Policy then gives us the mandate to use our position as a major investor to engage companies on a commercial level to discuss issues of concern. In this way we can challenge major businesses from the inside, to improve their performance in relation to issues such as human rights, environmental sustainability and corporate governance, for example, and all our unit trusts benefit from our engagement insight."

As I said in my original rant, the reason I stick with Co-op and will continue to do so, is that they have a human call centre, with real human beings at the end of the line, and based somewhere in particular.  That really is important, and very rare.

The other two things I complained about remain a problem.  Why should I be charged £20 to 'renew' an overdraft I haven't asked to cancel?  Why should I be sent endless bank statements with just a few items on?

Both of those are irritating, but they are not exactly deal-breakers.  Sorry I suggested otherwise...

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