Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wed 17 Nov

Fascinating article in yesterday's Le Soir newspaper concerning Belgians and their bank accounts and what happens should they from now on go into their overdrafts. Well, from 1st December, banks will be able to block the accounts of anybody who goes into the red for more than 1 month. Currently, and from what I can make out, the law allows people to be €1,250 overdrawn over the course of 3 months. In return, customer rights will be further safeguarded and extended (not sure how) with a greater ability to be able to compare current accounts alongside one another. I'm guessing (just a guess, I might be wrong, but after a year of living here I do have a weeny little insight into the workings of Belgian society) that price comparison websites and consumer rights aren't big in Belgium. I can just imagine the amount of paperwork involved in trying to change banks. That's if they allow you to in the first place!

A further change will see banks penalised if they knowingly grant overdrafts to people who are obviously incapable of paying them back. I have to say, I can see nothing wrong with either change. This would seem alien in the UK where we're so used to paying for everything 'on credit,' but this is one of the reasons our finances are in such a mess in the first place. We spend what we don't have, aided by reckless banks and successive governments who never tire of urging us to keep on spending: "let's spend our way out of recession.." No, let's not spend what we don't have.

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