Don’t forget the little folk.

Serf

Lloyds bank has been fined £28m for mis-selling, misleading and generally defrauding its customers. This is a good move by the regulator; it’s one of the biggest fines that it has handed out. It’s still a waste of time. The fine only amounts to a pitiful fraction of the amount that the bank spends on bonuses every year. It’s difficult to see how such a mild punishment will persuade Lloyds to change its ways.

Even if the bank does go through an epiphany, and starts to behave with common decency, there’s still a problem. What will happen to all of the customers who have been damaged by the banks underhand methods? These are not imaginary folk, or greedy people taken in by a scam, or rich layabouts who can stand a loss of a few thousand. They are ordinary, hard-working souls who have seen their savings disappear, or have had the small business that they own forced into bankruptcy.  The fine will not be used to reimburse them. It will be up to Lloyds to make good their losses.

Who will decide which customers deserve to be compensated? Who will set the amount to be repaid? Who will choose the time-scale for carrying out this process? You’ve guessed already. Lloyds.

Perhaps we should deal with all other crimes in this way. For instance, we could allow burglars to act as judge and jury in their own cases. It would save all the expense of a trial if we simply allow the perpetrator to decide on the level of punishment. We could well learn from the banking world’s example.

Heaven forbid!

Despite all of the promises, nothing changes. Once again, ordinary customers are at the mercy of their bank. The law doesn’t help them. The regulator doesn’t help them. They’re on their own.

Their fate depends on the generosity of spirit (or otherwise) of their bank. There’s no way of compelling these organisations to honour the principles that the rest of us are forced to live by. They don’t have to be fair or reasonable, or consider the effects of their actions on others. They can deal with the rest of us however they wish.

We’re still in the Middle Ages.

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