OK, so this is going to be a non art related rant about the state of things in the UK. What is going on here? British Telecom (the primary telephone service provider here) is now going to charge people £4.50 for not paying their bill by Direct Debit. Another way of penalising people. Just 'cos BT has money to throw around its head (final quarter profits of 1.4 billion, I believe). This does not mean other people do. This is no more than finanancial blackmail and will penalise those who need their money the most. People who do not have bank accounts or use cheques to pay will loose £18 a year all for the sake of BTs greed. But what is most dangerous is the fact that banks are totally unreliable at handling people's money. They profit through charging folk if the money is not there on time or the company to be paid has requested the payment early. I am speaking from experience here. I know of many people who have had D.D.s set up, dates arranged for the withdrawal of the payment and then the company asks for the payment early when wages have not been deposited. Instead of refusing the payment until the allotted day banks allow the payment to go through, then charge their customer if there is not enough money to cover the payment. There is a train of thought in the UK that people have substantial amounts of money in their current accounts at all times. What about people who are not on high wages, have regular income but also regular outgoings? Many people live from hand to mouth even in the 'modern' world and every penny is counted with care. With the recent increases in interest rates, gas and electricity prices things are even more tight. Not everyone has expensive cars and go on holidays to far flung destinations! We do not all fail to pay bills because we want to commit criminal acts. Some people struggle with paying for a million and one reasons - not least because their wages come in one day after a payment has been requested. But banks are cashing in all the time. They have nothing to loose and plenty to gain. No wonder we are being encouraged to use Direct Debits. Now banks are talking about charging people for having an ordinary current account. What??? They are handing out credit cards to those who cannot afford to keep up with payments on what some see as free money. Where is their sense of responsibility in all this? They should be called to account and NOW!
And where is the government during all this? Why are they allowing these companies to do this? These are huge companies that have no need to be screwing over their customers in this way - other than for profits with which to pay shareholders of course. No one is asking for anything for free. We are asking for fairness and a quality product with no hidden charges or underhand behaviour. Yet the government will not legislate against companies and individuals who are taking advantage just because they can. On another point - Britain has become a scavenging ground for big business from other countries to walk in, pick businesses to pieces and leave a shell working with unacceptable practices. I don't think there are any of the British banks or major companies that have not been bought over or merged with conglomerations from other nations. There are some who might say this is globalisation in action. But Britain and the British people are loosing out. This country is an unacceptable mess only working for those who already have plenty of their own. There is no need for underhandedness. There is no need for ordinary people to loose out in the name of profit for the economy. It is time for the government to take a good look and stand up for its people.