Speaking at a London press conference today (13/9/04), the President of Spain's leading consumers' association, Ausbanc, Mr Luis Pineda Salido, said: "Santander's takeover of Abbey would be good for UK consumers. The British retail banks are overcharging their customers. Ausbanc is determined to ensure UK consumers really benefit from greater competition by providing the information consumers need to get the best deal."
Ausbanc, today (13/9/04) launches a new service targeted at Spain's 16 million British tourists and the estimated ½ million British planning to live or invest in Spain, as well as the 700,000 thought to be already living there. Central to the service will be Ausbanc's new English Helpline, which can be dialled free from the UK; a quarterly English language edition of its leading personal finance journal, Mercado De Dinero (Money Market); and its website, www.ausbanc.com will shortly be available in English.
"More and more British living in or visiting Spain are contacting Ausbanc. They who want advice on banking and financial services. Spain can be a daunting place for the British expatriate who is confronted by a bewildering array of mortgages, financial products, incentives, and professional services, much of it in a foreign language or subject to Spanish law", Mr Luis Pineda Salido said.
According to Mr Pineda Salido, Ausbanc's eighteen years' experience of defending consumer rights has made a major contribution towards the modernisation, flexibility and transparency of Spain's financial system. "We are determined to make a similar contribution, representing the legitimate rights of UK consumers investing in Spain, by pressing to improve aspects of the UK banking system."
"As a foreign observer, we are also puzzled by how difficult it can be for a foreigner to open a current account in the UK, even for someone coming from the EU; the non-application of EU directives; and the unawareness of commission rates, and so on," added Mr Pineda Salido.
Ausbanc has set up a free English Helpline, contactable from the UK and Spain. The number is 08000285291 and will be free of charge to UK and Spanish callers, operating through the automatic reverse charge international service. An English-speaking person will answer Ausbanc's English Helpline, using legal support as necessary.
Ausbanc's respected fortnightly personal finance journal, Mercado De Dinero (Money Market) will also be published in an English language version on a quarterly basis and its website will shortly be available in English.
The concerns of the British who contact Ausbanc include:-
Fees charged for money transfers from the UK into Spain
Interest rates, mortgage loans and how the Spanish financial system works
Interest rates reviews in floating rates mortgage loans
Undue charges in current accounts arising from the use of credit and debit cards
Currency risks in mortgage decisions