Wednesday, September 11, 2013

How to evolve from being a business into being a scam: Part 1. Banks.

Both my British and Australian banks charge me utterly outrageous exchange rates when I want to convert money between AUD and GBP. (We are talking something like 5% in spread and commission). As it happens, I am not going to pay $100 to you to change $200 - $20 is more reasonable - so I have to go off and use an independent FX broker. (Mine is based in New Zealand, BTW. I had to go through all the standard anti-money laundering crap of sending copies of my passport and utility bills before they would accept me as a customer, but they have themselves been excellent).

The fact that large banks have become organisations that will screw their customers outrageously at any tiny opportunity that they can find - often because they know that the customer is doing something complex that he does not really understand and does not know how to shop around for (or - better - which regulations make it difficult to shop around for) is a big part of why people hate them so much. You sort of know that you are being screwed, but don't know quite how.

Mobile phone companies (also much too close to the state, and also much too heavily regulated by regulators who have been captured by the phone companies) are very similar in terms of how they will screw you. In some ways they are practically banks themselves, too.

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