M&S Bank, why are you treating customers like fools? asks JEFF PRESTRIDGE


The Bank of England’s monetary policy committee will hold its first meeting of the year on Thursday. Although not an absolute certainty, it is likely that the Committee will agree to keep interest rates at 5.25 percent for another month – the level they have been at since August of last year. ‘last year.

A rate cut – long awaited by borrowers – is unlikely until spring at the earliest, and it may well be pushed into the long grass if inflation does not fall from its current rate of 4 percent.

The brighter outlook for the direction of interest rates – after 14 rate rises since the end of 2021 – does not appear to be a consideration for those running M&S Bank, the financial services arm of resurgent retailer Marks & Spencer.

The bank has just written to cardholders to inform them that from March 25, the interest rate on any accumulated debt will increase from 21.9 to 24.9 percent.

In its explanatory letter, it says the rate rise is “due to increases in the Bank of England base rate, which impact the cost of providing credit to our customers”.

Don't count on it: M&S Bank has just written to cardholders to inform them that from March 25 the interest rate on any accumulated debt will rise from 21.9 to 24.9 percent

Don’t count on it: M&S Bank has just written to cardholders to inform them that from March 25 the interest rate on any accumulated debt will rise from 21.9 to 24.9 percent

A bizarre explanation given that it caused borrowing rates to rise in July last year, from 17.9 to 21.9 percent – ​​just before the latest 0.25 percentage point rise in the Bank’s base rate, at 5.25 percent on August 3.

The rate hike hasn’t gone down well in the home of Peter and Jennifer Wall.

They are keen users of the M&S credit card and pay off any outstanding balances each month, but they are opposed to the latest interest rate rise.

Peter, a retired solicitor and former chairman of a Birmingham-based manufacturing company, is furious – and didn’t hesitate to speak out when he told M&S what he thought of the latest rate rise .

“Astonished,” “an insult,” and “yet another example of David versus Goliath and the never-ending saga of ordinary people being treated so unfairly” were all words and phrases he used in his email exchanges with the company.

Unfortunately, M&S’s responses have been far from adequate. After an email he sent, Peter was asked to share feedback on his recent experience with the company – he was so insulted that he didn’t respond.

Even when his emails ended up before M&S Bank’s executive complaints team, the responses were unsatisfactory.

It said the rate increase was necessary to ensure its products remained “sustainable”. Nonsense. It’s all about making a profit (note to M&S Bank, the base rate has remained unchanged for over five months and will in all likelihood fall in the coming months).

He also explained that the increase had nothing to do with how their specific account was managed. A rude response. Peter’s complaint was not about their individual card, but about the proposed rate increase applied to M&S Bank’s entire credit card portfolio.

Finally, she offered him the right to file his complaint with the financial mediation service. Again, a ridiculous suggestion. All Peter wanted was for the bank to explain why it was raising rates at a time when everyone was talking about cuts.

Peter says: “Large financial institutions send lots of letters to customers. Most people look at them without really understanding that the financial climate is not quite as described in the correspondence. When companies send misleading letters, they should be challenged.

Marks & Spencer is a fantastic brand. But she is undermined by her bank which is part of HSBC. This echoes what happened to John Lewis last year, when many of its credit card customers were outraged that their borrowing limits had been reduced by the appointment of a new company (NewDay) to manage its card operations.

M&S beware.

I will always wear the boot (Ugg) for the readers!

Bad foot: a pair of Uggs – here worn by a model – did not arrive

Bad foot: a pair of Uggs – here worn by a model – did not arrive

Nothing makes me shine more than when I get a positive result for a reader who has been wronged. It came a few days ago after Louise Matz, an accountant from Pinner in north-west London, confirmed she had received a refund for products she had ordered for Christmas, but which did not had not arrived.

The refund only came after I intervened on her behalf after she was proverbially cheated – and wrong – by US shoe giant Deckers Brands.

Louise’s shopping nightmare began on December 19 last year when she ordered two pairs of brown mini Ugg boots via the company’s website as Christmas presents for her 12-year-old daughter Nicole. Ugg is owned by Deckers Brands.

“I hadn’t been able to find the boots in London,” says Louise, “while other websites said they weren’t available, probably due to Christmas shopping.”

The next day, she was delighted to receive a package by DPD mail. But joy turned to despair when she opened the package and discovered there was only one pair of boots, the wrong size and color.

Frustrated, she immediately contacted Ugg who told her it would investigate the matter, a process she said would take a few days.

Desperate not to disappoint her daughter, she managed to get the boots through Amazon at the last minute.

On January 6, Ugg contacted her to tell her that the package she had received matched the description of her order and that her case would therefore be closed. Ten days later, Louise contacted me to ask me to put the boot into Deckers. I obliged.

When I contacted Deckers, the company did what it should have done from the day Louise contacted the company: properly investigate her complaint.

It turns out that the boots ordered for Nicole ended up at one of DPD’s shipping centers where they were “lost” and never returned to Deckers.

As for the pair delivered to Louise, they were intended for someone else (Emma Hegarty) at another address (who also complained to Deckers about their non-arrival).

Louise has now returned the wrong pair of Ugg boots to Deckers. In turn, the company refunded her the £293.97 she had spent on the boots which never arrived.

“Thank you so much for your work in solving our little problem,” Louise, 56, told me last week. “I really appreciate what you did.”

Louise, it is with great pleasure.

A meeting that keeps me from going off the rails…

HATS off to South Western Railway (SWR) for holding its latest “Meet the Manager” meeting at Waterloo station in London on Thursday.

Although most visitors to its pop-up stand in the station concourse were more interested in the treats, bottles of water and free pens on offer, I found the experience quite cathartic.

This gave me a chance to vent about the constant delays of the SWR service I use to get to work from my home in Wokingham, Berkshire. I was also outraged by the dirt in the wagons, the toilets of which often did not work.

Stefan Chybowski, the head of the SWR control center, was nothing short of patient (and friendly) in allowing me to speak. He even helped me by finding details of the replacement bus service that will operate when the line I use closes next month for a signaling upgrade.

Of course, the meeting will not make a big difference to the quality of service provided by SWR. But it was therapeutic. Thank you, Stéphane.

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