Finally ditching the bank

My own goal for today was also only partially successful. This morning, at half past nine, I gathered together all the documentation regarding my Graduate Loan, and my dormant current account, with a certain nameless high street bank, with whom I am no longer on speaking terms. Another way to bank, my foot (and that’s the only clue you’re getting).

My goal, was to close these two accounts. To establish, once and for all, precisely how much money I owed them, pay off that balance, and close the two accounts. Of course, when I proposed this course of action to the unimaginably young man in the branch, he said, “I doubt we’ll be able to do all that in one day, madam…”. I wasn’t too surprised; I suppose I knew that the original goal was ambitious indeed.

The thing is, I have been planning a tantrum, aimed at this particular bank, for some years. And when it came to it, they were friendly and helpful, and entirely took the wind out of my sails, which is more than a little disappointing.

The source of the tantrum is seated in their extraordinary loan terms. Five years ago, I borrowed three thousand pounds from them, over a period of five years, at the advertised rate of 7.9%. The man I dealt with on that occasion (who was also friendly and personable and helpful, the git) calculated that my repayments would come to ?60.50 a month, for 60 months. And I believed him.

A year or two later, when I bought my computer, and learned of the wonders of Microsoft Money, I attempted to tell Money the details of this loan – how much I still owed, how much I was paying, what the interest was, how long I still had to pay. Money refused to have anything to do with it. These numbers, it said, do not add up. Go away and come up with something arithmetically sound.

I figured it was me. Or the computer. Certainly, I ignored the problem for some years more. Then, about twelve months ago, I finally sat down properly with the numbers, and calculated that if I wasn’t charged another penny in interest over the remainder of the loan, I would still owe the better part of ?1000 by the end of the term.

That struck me as odd.

The only possible explanation, was that I had been paying off the capital for all this time, whilst the actual interest payments sat in the account, accruing, and also accruing compound interest. And there it was, in the small print. The Evil Bank had lied to me, or at least, failed to mention to me, that my loan wouldn’t be paid at the end of the term.

I have spent the last twelve months saving up the difference, so that when the loan term ended, I could march in there, all guns blazing (not literally, they take security very seriously in banks), and tell them precisely where to stuff their loan agreement.

Instead, the closest I got was writing a cheque, signing an authorisation for them to close the loan account WHEN the cheque cleared, and an understanding that the current account couldn’t be closed until that process was completed. I need to go back next week, apparently.

So I smiled, and said, “Thank you”, and I left, without blazing a single gun, and having achieved only half of my goal.

Still, I’ll be sixty pounds a month better off, now. And they never did find out that I used the money as the deposit for my house, of which I’m sure they wouldn’t have approved.