Businesses use advertising to differentiate their product, show that they are somehow better than their competitors. In the world of retail banking, one very successful campaign has been run by Nationwide, still mutual and claiming that it is “proud to be different”.
This difference extended to giving its current account holders the ability to withdraw cash in local currencies across Europe, and make debit card purchases, at the day’s exchange rate, and without surcharges or other penalties. It was for that reason that I opened an account with my local branch.
But, alas, so many good things come to an end: first, the (small) amount of interest paid to these accounts ceased. Even so, the foreign currency benefit was still significant. Today, the news came by post that even the latter is to end (already covered by some media outlets).
Nationwide’s first line of excuse has been that, even with fees and surcharges – because there will be both – hitting a hole in the wall in downtown Lisbon or Barcelona will still be less expensive than the competition. That, however, does not excuse what is yet another method of being ripped off for partaking in an exercise no more sinful than accessing your own money.
The small amount of good news is that the change will not come until November. So that’s two and a half months to get some Euros and plan the shopping. In the meantime, perhaps Nationwide might consider a change to the advert strapline.
“Proud to be less rapacious”, perhaps.