Letters in January 2017

108

LCL 

Following our article last week, about the diabolical service from branches of the LCL bank, we had some letters about more bad service. Here are some of them:

A few years ago I applied for their online only account. I filled in the form and uploaded my id etc. After a few weeks I enquired what was going on, and there was no reply of course. I phoned. ‘Ah yes, everything is in hand, we have printed out your application forms and posted them to the appropriate office.’ For my online only account. Clueless! 

Steve

* * * 

Your article about LCL reminded me of some perhaps even more shocking behaviour by banks.

About 10 years ago I decided to invest money in an Assurance Vie with BNP Paribas Banque Privée, Nimes. The reason I chose BNP Paribas is that they did not charge any ‘frais de gestion’. In a final meeting with the Banque Privée advisor, I raised this point and asked ‘are you sure there are no frais de gestion whatsoever’. He said ‘yes, aucun frais de gestion’. At that point, his colleague sitting next to him whispered something in his ear whereupon he answered ‘and if there are any you’ll never see them’. They both laughed.

I should have queried this but I thought naively that Banque privée advisors were of the highest integrity.

A year or two later, looking at two successive monthly statements I noticed that the number of units on each line of the Assurance Vie had marginally decreased. I then went to look at previous statements and yes every month there was a 0.09 % decrease. I made an appointment with my advisor and asked what was going on whereupon he said ‘that is how we collect the frais de gestion’.

I nearly fell off my chair and reminded him he had said no frais de gestion whatsoever. He looked pained like a professor staring at a bad student. He then got up left the room and came back with a 20 page booklet General terms and Conditions which I had signed at the back and he pointed out one article which said the frais de gestion would be collected in that way. So he said he did not understand my question because I had signed the booklet .

I took this up to the highest level of BNP Paribas Regional management level but the big boss stood by his advisor. Clearly he said we were all in good faith but I must have misunderstood. I am Belgian and French is my mother tongue so why would I misunderstand pas de frais de gestion.

I asked for a confrontation with the other colleague who had whispered something in the advisor’s ear. That was not possible because he had been moved to another agency in the country and anyway he was not ‘cadre supérieur’. Obviously in their eyes only cadres supérieurs can be relied upon to tell the truth.

I took the matter up with Que Choisir, the consumer protection agency, but they felt it was his word against mine and I was unlikely to get any redress.

Last year my LCL Uzes advisor asked to meet me. He suggested during the meeting to transfer my investment account I have with them into an Assurance Vie type arrangement, one of the advantages being that I would not be paying any frais de gestion anymore. Needless to say that caught my attention. I asked ‘are you sure?’ ‘Yes, absolutely’. I said I asked the question because I had had a bad experience with BNP Paribas. He confirmed again, ‘aucun frais de gestion’. I then asked that they confirm in writing zero frais de gestion before we went any further.

At that point his boss who had attended the meeting but had not joined in the discussion said they could not do that because there were frais de gestion which would be collected through a decrease of the number of units available. LCL had cottoned on to the BNP Paribas trick…

Conclusion : check and double check, read everything, mainly the small print, and do not trust anyone.

Jacques V 

Montpellier Airport

Reader Debbie B wrote in wanting to warn other readers about the actions of airport security staff at Montpellier airport. 

Really cheesed off, the Montpellier airport staff would not allow a tin of luxury foie gras (Christmas gift) they said the cheese was fine……

Readers be wary. This does look very much like staff helping themselves to luxury items at Christmas, because it shouldn’t have qualified as either dangerous or a liquid.  If you have the time, you can always query decisions made by security staff, and if necessary ask for a supervisor. Be prepared for a long wait though.

Brexit and EU

It’s amusing that France is now blaming Brexit for missing yet again their projected growth figure. My Economist magazine projects that France will only achieve the same growth in 2017 of 1.2% . This is based on the projections of the major banks worldwide and independent economists.

Ian Mills

* * *

Regarding EU associate membership for Brits in the EU. There was no mention of maintaining health cover, only free movement and voting. We already vote in local elections, and while it would be nice as long term residents to vote in all elections, for retirees and families health cover is more important than free movement and additional voting rights.

Companies & families can organise visas etc., as and when required; elections are infrequent. With health cover you never know in advance when it will be needed. With children and older people particularly, emergencies or accidents happen without pre-notification, and any chronic or long-term conditions need continual health supervision either locally or from specialists. I suggest health cover is of paramount importance to the other suggestions. 

Pat H 

Fèves

To finish the letters page on a light note, a reader wrote in as a response to our article about a schoolgirl finding a pornographic fève in her Gallette des Rois. 

They are quite common. We found this one at a village repas.

Steve M

[We apologise if picture 2 offends any readers, but we thought it was too funny not to include.  Ed]