HBOS reneges on leaflet clarification pledge

Halifax Bank of Scotland (HBOS) has rejected government recommendations to alter a leaflet promoting one of its current accounts, claiming it is already “clear and transparent.”

The leaflet, promoting the Bank of Scotland current account, was singled out in the recent Commons Treasury Select Committee report into the banking and financial sector. It was cited as an example of confusing promotional material, as the committee called on banks to revise their marketing material to make it more comprehensible to customers.

HBOS chief executive James Crosby agreed to review the leaflet and make the necessary amendments. But a company spokesman has revealed to Marketing Week that no changes will be made.

He says: “Our retail division has reviewed the material and we feel it is clear and transparent, so it is not necessary to make any changes.”

The committee’s main concern was that interest rates are not published on the leaflet. The report states: “If the minimum monthly level of payments into the account is not met, balances earn a lower interest rate, and incur higher overdraft interest rates than advertised. The different interest rates applied were not disclosed in the leaflet.”

The HBOS spokesman claims interest rates are readily available to the public through advertising campaigns and in branches. He says: “They can’t walk into a branch without being bombarded with information. Rates are changing all the time, so rather than reprinting a leaflet every time that happens, we remain flexible by promoting rates in other ways.”

Abbey National and National Australia Bank had also agreed to revise their promotional material.

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