Belfast Telegraph

Nuala McKeever: The bank that likes to say: you’re overdrawn, sort it out

Sometimes indicators of the current zeitgeist come from the most unexpected quarters. We all know times are bad, economically. Mostly because we keep being told how awful everything is going to get.

But it was when I saw an ad for Lloyds TSB this week that I was struck by just how totally depressed we all must be, economically speaking.

Lloyds are offering us until 3.30pm on the same day that our account goes into the red, to haul it out again.

That’s their big sell.

Back in the “good old days” banks tried to tempt us with competitive rates of interest; fancy terms and conditions; alluring sexy promises of high yields and sensational returns on our savings. “Get more money here!!!” they screamed, subtly, at us.

But now all pretence has been dropped. No one’s even trying to let on that there’s anything being offered in terms of making money. The only ones making serious dough are the bankers themselves, but there isn’t enough for us too.

All that’s left to tempt us with is the decidedly unglamorous offer of less harsh penalties than before.

Gone are the heady days of “We’ll make you feel good all over. Now it’s: “We’ll all make you feel c**p, but we’ll make you feel a wee bit less c**p than the others.”

Wow! The chance to be hit with a slightly smaller stick! Magic. Where do I sign?

This ad opens up a whole world of questions too.

Why would anyone be tempted by that offer?

If you’re prone to going into the red, chances are you can’t do anything about it in the space of one day.

If you’re not prone, then yeah, maybe a day’s grace is a good idea, but then that begs the question, how would you know you’ve slipped red-wards?

Do people follow their money that closely?

I know when I have money, I glide along not worrying about it. I certainly don’t check it. And when I don’t have money, I glide along worrying about it. But I don’t check it then either, because I don’t want to face the grim reality.

Are there people out there who monitor their current accounts on a daily basis and have money stashed away somewhere else, just waiting to slide it across if they should dip into the rouge?

The galling thing about the TV ad is the condescending, we’re-terribly-understanding, tone of the voice over. “We all have little slip-ups now and again, but here at the nice bank, we’re so nice we’re going to give you, no, not a loan, don’t be silly — we need your money to cover our bonuses — we’re going to give you a few hours to put your slip-ups right”, he tells us, more or less.

No mention of the fact that for millions of us now, the red will not be somewhere we “slip” into now and again, but rather a permanent resting place for our finances because we simply can’t make ends meet, between rising prices and frozen or reduced incomes.

The fact that the banks were, and continue to be, instrumental in placing us in this position seems lost on them.

The ad has all the appeal of a bully who’s just pushed you over a cliff, offering to toss down his jacket to make your landing a little less deadly.

Too little, too late.

Belfast Telegraph

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