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 Delayed Bank Charges

Delayed Bank Charges

January 19, 2009

We recently queried some small items of 20 Euro bank charges which we could find no explanation for.

HSBC identified the charges as being raised by Spanish bankers – Banco de Bilbao – who take receive money on behalf of OHIM (the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market) the body to whom we pay the official fees for our clients’ European trade mark applications and registrations.  Nothing surprising in that you may think.

But wait for it – these were charges for a couple of payments we made to OHIM back in September!   We had already paid HSBC’s bank charges of £15, invoiced our clients, and now months after the event are being told that the bank’s terms entitle them to raise this charge because when we made the transfer we selected the option that the payer will pay all charges!

The fact that there is no other way to pay OHIM’s fees in full (ie without deductions of any sort) is irrelevant it seems.  It is also irrelevant that the bank charges are being levied months after the transactions have been completed.  That the bank is pointing to its terms and conditions as entitling them to raise this delayed charge, is an example of how unfair terms are tested only if there is litigation, or consumer dissatisfaction.

So it will be interesting to see to what extent the bank insists on its strict contractual right.