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16 comments to Santander Bank withdraws free forever business banking

  • Thanks. Just off phone to call centre after 26 minutes, most of it waiting. Apparently free forever banking is no longer financially sustainable. They must be in a bad way. He pointed me to their terms and conditions for accounts opened before 24/10/11 at http://bit.ly/LCqEtF in particular 16.1
    b) to provide for the introduction of new or improved systems, methods of operation, services or facilities; and
    d) to reflect general banking practice;
    New – yes, improved – no. And if breaking promises is general banking practice … sorry, I forgot.

  • admin

    Next steps:

    I have lodged a complaint with Santander

    I have complained to the Financial Services Authority http://www.fsa.gov.uk/pages/doing/regulated/promo/report/form.shtml
    – Santander still have lots of instances on their website promoting the free forever account
    – I purchased the free forever account in 2003

    In 8 weeks time it will be on to the Financial Ombudsman

  • Mike Lewis

    I opened a business account at HSBC this afternoon. No charges so long as not loads of cheques paid in or out, and no cash paid in. Suits me.

  • John Challener

    I’ve had the ‘free forever’ account for 10 years and have some paperwork saying clearly the account is ‘free forever’.
    I’m not a lawyer, but surely they have broken their contract, or at the very least advertised in a misleading way.
    I have complained and will go to the ombudsman in 8 weeks. We should not let them get away with it.

  • DruidDonagh

    It is clear to me that santander tried to hide thes advert, these have no weight at all as they are no longer part of their current stratergies.

    IF their T&C state that they can make changes, it is their legal right

  • Peter Wilshire

    Those screen grabs posted by mrs blog are really helpful. Please ensure they remain live until the FSO has ruled definitively on this issue (and a court case has been held).

    I have already lodged an FSO complaint myself (having received a standard Santander fob-off to my direct complaint). And if the FSO is unable to find in customers’ favour, I’ll be pursuing a small claims fast track court case. No ifs, no buts and I’ve made both Santander and the FSO aware of this from the outset.

    I’d encourage other customers to pursue this matter through the courts too as a small claim (if their FSO complaint fails). It ‘only’ costs around £50 or so and importantly doesn’t make you liable for any legal costs, even if you lose.

    I firmly believe Santander needs to be legally challenged on this, assuming the FSO doesn’t have sufficient powers itself. I also think the more pessimistic comments about this matter on moneysavingexpert.com are perhaps under-estimating CUSTOMERS’ legal rights. It’s by no means a clear cut case either way, but it certainly begs for a proper legal challenge. This may also generate further adverse PR for Santander, which they’ll hate from a commercial perspective and it might just make them sit up and take notice (not something they’ve been famed for to date).

  • Peter Wilshire

    Re: my earlier comments from today (above). I meant, of course, FOS (Financial Ombudsman Service), not FSO. Apologies for this.

    Incidentally, the FOS has a very interesting page on their website, which I believe directly relevant to Santander’s ‘free forever’ promise.

    I think it would be well worth drawing the FOS’s attention (and any court’s) to it, when submitting your complaint to them:


  • admin

    Too right I will leave the screen shots live …


  • admin

    Santander can’t hide from Wayback Machine http://web.archive.org/web/20100525190316/http://www.santander.co.uk/csgs/Satellite?canal=CABBEYCOM&cid=1237863602021&cidAgrup=845616358929450&empr=Abbeycom&leng=en_GB&pagename=Abbeycom/Page/WC_ACOM_TemplateY2&posSel=2

    They might be able to remove JPGs but they are going to find it difficult to remove content. They must have a whole team on this at the moment working on getting rid of the evidence … but I’ve got screenshots!

    However … looks like they are trying to kill this link! Don’t worry I have screenshots!

  • Adam Smith

    Thanks for the links, I also have a Santander Business Account and have made a complaint to the FSA and sent a letter to the Complaints Department saying the Ombudsman is the next step.

    I also found this pdf issued by Santander of a leaflet containing the Free Banking advert: http://goo.gl/0PVnB
    I think this is still a live link at the moment not cached.

    Fingers crossed sure we can make waves on this if enough people complain!

  • Dionysus

    The T&C will state that Santander is allowed to make changes. Terms like free or forever are subject to change according to the Terms and Conditions.
    These are the original T&C which Santander inherited form Abby. The only change is the front.
    Go to Page 18 Section 16. And see what I mean.

    Your screenshots will not hold any weight. Ever heard of photoshop, or paint? Screenshots can be manipulated by any one. The wayback machine shows a link of over 2 years old. Hardly any proof. My local santander/abby stopped advertising roughly 1,5 years ago. Therefore it stands to reason that they had the intention to stop with free banking all together. The old saying goes: There is no such thing as a free lunch. And these changes just proves that.

  • admin

    Of course the wayback machine shows an old link, that is precisely what it is meant to show. It is a snap shot of some of Santander’s website from years ago.

  • MD

    Here is some interesting stuff that may be useful….

    lever to spot the “Subject to relevant changes to the law, regulation or the imposition of any tax in connection with bank charges.” bit, which off course is not subject, nor refers to their own term changes and am using it myself with a picture of this I have along with all the other marketing including their ‘Guarantee of Free Banking Forever ‘in writing.
    The line you found also contradicts their other ‘booklet’ terms they sent after the contract was concluded, which a court may find confusing and detrimental for anyone wishing to rely on them.
    Also the letter I had when the contract was concluded states that ‘As I am sure you are already aware Abbey National offers Free Business Banking Indefinitely’, which shows that the ‘Free Forever’ Promise was known about before any term contradicting it was sent and could mean that it is null and void as I have to have been made aware of any any ‘onerous or unusual clauses’ (contradictory) at the time the contract was concluded. Just like you have to (reasonably) see all the car park signs before you buy a ticket.
    Plus at this stage may I add that if one can (if pushed), convince a court that there has been a breach of an ‘express term’ like Free Banking Forever, in the same way you buy a green car but it turns out not to be green, then I/we have six years from the breach (now) to make a claim for a breach of contract.
    Confirmed by Shoosmiths Law firm, who say on their website: “In a simple contract claim the six year limitation period will run from the date the contract was breached (regardless of when the loss occurred)”.
    I agreed to a contract to provide me with a product and service of a Free Forever Bank Account. Which I do not have and their contradictory ‘terms’ may be unfair too (UCTA 1977 & UTCC 1999).
    Just food for thought if and when it gets legal and expensive for them.
    Small claims is cheap for us (£80), but not good for them after spending money for the ombudsmen beforehand as well as being a PR and commercial disaster.

  • admin



    My post on Twitter today, goodbye Santander hello HSBC

    Goodbye Santander Business Banking free forever soon to be £7.50 per month
  • Paul

    Just catching up on all this as I’ve been out of the country. Is any one able to offer an update as to the best approach for those affected by the change?

    PS Thanks for the useful information you have posted to date.

  • John Challener

    Just had a letter from Santander saying that free banking is being continued !! Seems like our complaints have paid off…

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