BANKERS, Part 162

Did you hear the news yesterday?

Banks have achieved a surprise victory this morning when the supreme court ruled that the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) did not have the power to determine the fairness of unauthorised bank charges.

The ruling on a case between the OFT and seven banks and one building society was to determine whether the fees charged for unauthorised overdrafts could be tested under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999.

The supreme court found that while the OFT has power to assess the fairness of terms in consumer contracts, this is subject to limits laid down in this legislation. Regulation 6(2)(b) states that the assessment of the fairness of a term in a contract "shall not relate … to the adequacy of the price or remuneration, as against the goods or services supplied in exchange". In other words the "value for money" equation is excluded.

The court of appeal had held that this exclusion only applied to the "core terms" of the contract and not to ancillary terms such as the charges for unauthorised overdrafts.

But the supreme court overturned this ruling, finding that the charges for unauthorised overdrafts were part of the price customers paid for banking, and therefore fell within this exclusion.

The decision is a blow to more than about 1.2 million current account customers who had already lodged claims on unauthorised overdraft fees paid as far back as 2001, but which had been put on hold by the banks until conclusion of the case.

Chief executive of consumer group Which?, Peter Vicary-Smith, said: "This is a bitter blow for the millions of people who have been patiently waiting to get their bank charges back.

"Not only does it give banks licence to charge what they like for unauthorised overdrafts, but it could have ramifications for other areas of personal finance. The banks now have no excuse for introducing other fee charges.

Basically, they've used OUR "bailout" money to secure a legal victory meaning they won't have to pay us back the money they stole off us.


Speaking of which, there's a great interview with Simon Cowel from 2007 over at Playboy, which I was lead to via a Popjustice article. Mr Cowell, who has "gorilla hair" according to children on Twitter, is typically brazen in the interview, claiming his only concern is "making money, for myself and the people I work for. I mean, that's absolutely the only criterion I attach. That's it."

He says lots of other things too. Here are some of my favourites.

"If you looked in my collection of DVDs, you'd see Jaws and Star Wars. In the book library you'd see John Grisham and Sidney Sheldon. And if you look in my fridge, it's like children's food--chips, milk shakes, yogurt. I don't have sophisticated tastes. I have average tastes."

"If I went to a French restaurant--which I probably never will again--I would ask the chef to make a plate of chips. I look at those menus in utter horror. I find them appalling."

"Do I prefer Kelly Clarkson's music to Bob Dylan's? Yes. I've never bought a Dylan record. A singing poet? It just bores me to tears. And I've got to tell you, if I had 10 Dylans in the final of American Idol, we would not be getting 30 million viewers a week."

"I'm not interested in signing murderers. Other people sign murderers. I think a lot of rap acts have murdered people."

"People thought I was stupid for signing the music rights to the Power Rangers and the World Wrestling Federation. I was a laughingstock. I couldn't have cared less. I was learning the business. If I could put a Power Rangers record on the charts, I must have been good."

"Guys reach a point in our lives when we prefer TV to music. I have six TVs in my London house, including a little one in the bathroom. It's my favorite time for watching TV."

"There's something I call the daytime test. If you take a girl out at night, it's a breeze. You can drink; it's dark. The daytime is a whole new area. [Terri Seymour] passed the daytime test."

And finally!

Playboy: If you went to a club tonight and saw the 21-year-old Dylan singing "Blowin' in the Wind," what would you do?

Cowell: I'd plug my ears and run in the other direction.