Revelations from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) market study released today have reinforced the damning criticisms about bank charges that continue to arrive at Plain English Campaign from members of the public. Based on the OFT findings, the lack of clarity in some communications is a major reason for banks having poor relationships with customers.
While many banks acknowledge that plain language enables better financial management for both themselves and their customers, there is an obvious need for legislation in this area to ensure consistency for the customer.
Financial organisations have a responsibility to answer and help people as part of their service. But the current financial climate has highlighted that unclear and misleading information can cause peope financial hardship. For instance, recent customer marketing from one major bank claims to counteract the effects of the 'credit crunch' by offering emergency funds. In fact these funds are no more than an addititional overdraft facility at a hugely inflated interest rate.
Plain English Campaign's founder Chrissie Maher OBE said, "The grass roots issue here is that clear communications can make the difference between a family being out on the street, or them getting through this period of economic challenge. Our key message is that clear communications empower the individual."
"Many organisations, particularly in the finance industry, already recognise the valuable contributions that crystal-clear language can offer in preventing the confusion around unnecessary and excessive charges. Over the coming months we will continue working with the banks and other consumer groups, and have offered our services to the OFT on this matter in the hope of achieving greater clarity, consistency and transparency throughout the industry."