A right old Saga: the latest issue contains an interview with Sigourney Weaver
Saga, that charming organization created 72 years ago by Londoner Sidney De Haan to meet the needs of the over-50s, is showing its dark side.
In recent days, she has told one of her former clients, Graeme Forsyth, that she is no longer prepared to communicate with him. This stems from his refusal to accept the company’s decision to stop providing print copies of its Saga monthly magazine to those who purchased lifetime subscriptions in the 1990s and early 2000s, with the understanding that life It meant until death.
Saga says it’s not viable for the company to continue publishing the magazine for lifetime subscribers unless they start paying an annual fee. But you can receive a free digital version (the latest contains an entertaining interview with Sigourney Weaver). He also says that the “vast majority” of clients have been sympathetic to his decision and have readily accepted it.
But not Graeme, and neither have many other MoS readers who have written to complain about the decision since I first raised the issue on these pages in early June.
John Marrs, from Bangor, in north Wales, is among the latter, saying he doesn’t own any of the “modern stuff.” [mobile phone, computer] necessary to access a digital version.
Although he says an annual subscription of just under £30 wouldn’t break the bank, he thought that when he paid his £75 lifetime subscription 25 years ago, he had paid for life. He feels a little cheated.
It’s exactly how Graeme feels, from near Manningtree in Essex. He has launched a petition, https://chng.it/2cMFrWk4, asking Saga to honor his promise to provide hard copies for life (1001 deserving signers so far). Despite breaking ten ribs falling down the stairs at his house, Graeme has managed to send a flood of correspondence to Saga’s CEO telling him to change his reputation. It hasn’t worked.
Last week Saga wrote to him saying: ‘You and your wife have obtained a lifetime subscription to Saga magazine and by switching from print to digital we continue to meet our subscription obligation. Therefore, we do not consider it necessary to enter into further correspondence with you on this matter.’
bolshevik. I’m not sure that the likes of John Marrs, and many other lifetime subscribers who are digitally excluded, agree with Saga’s view that he continues to “live up” to his obligations.
For the life of me, I don’t know why Saga has insisted on this issue.
If I were Chief Euan Sutherland, I would back out and honor the original agreement the clients signed. Saga’s intransigence on this issue will cost him more in reputational damage than any savings he makes by denying customers a print copy of the magazine they love and paid for years ago.
One final point about Saga. Numerous readers have contacted me in recent weeks, incredulous at the increases that Saga demands for the renewal of three-year insurance at a fixed price.
Yvette Van Lierde drives a 12-year-old Toyota, has a no-claim bonus dating back to the same time period, and does no more than 3,000 miles a year. For the past three years, she has paid an annual premium of £322. Now, to renew for another three years, Saga wants £776 a year, two and a half times as much.
“No convictions, no accidents, no speeding tickets,” she says. “Maybe the fact that he is now 75 years old contributes to the price increase.” Another reader, Derek Brown, from Rushenden in Kent, has been told that his three-year fixed-price home insurance with Saga will renew at an annual price of £558, up from £254 previously.
“What really bothered me,” he says, “is that Saga attached a brochure with the renewal notice explaining how good the offer was.”
Insurance premiums are soaring right now: 26 percent a year for homes (Pearson Ham) and 34 percent for cars (Consumer Intelligence). But for some Saga customers, they’re headed for the stratosphere.
Even the Royals can’t keep this bank branch open for business.
In the coming days, several Barclays branches will close their doors for good, as the bank considers it surplus.
Among them is the branch in my hometown of Wokingham, which will close at noon on Friday and will not reopen. You’ll walk out of town with one less outside ATM and follow in the footsteps of Santander and NatWest, who have walked the main drag since I lived there.
Closing shop: Barclays is closing several of its branches, including the one in Windsor (pictured)
It will also close, a few days later, the Barclays branch in nearby Windsor. Unlike its Wokingham counterpart, which is quite battered and bruised, the Windsor branch is housed in a magnificent four-story Victorian building.
Located near the entrance to Windsor Castle, it often forms part of the backdrop for special royal occasions, and is passed by thousands of visitors to the city every day.
Apparently not enough arrive to use the bank’s services. What a shame. Another stab in the heart of face-to-face banking.
Rest easy if you are stuck in a car loan legal case
It was good to see our article a week ago on the misselling of auto finance get picked up by rival newspapers. As we said at the time, if the legal action brought against the country’s three biggest car finance companies – Lloyds, Santander and MotoNovo – is successful, it could result in payouts of up to £1bn, spread across a million motorists.
The action stems from motorists being overcharged for car loans between 2015 and 2021 as a result of car dealers selling financing at higher interest rates in exchange for a higher commission from lenders. The practice, discretionary commission, was banned in 2021 to protect consumers. Those who were harmed by this unfair practice had no more to wait. The case will be submitted to the Competition Appeals Tribunal through an ‘opt-out’ action, which means that all eligible borrowers will be included.
For now, MotoNovo (part of Aldermore Bank) and Santander are keeping quiet about the action, brought by consumer advocate Doug Taylor (ex Which?) and litigation specialist Scott+Scott. As for Lloyds, his response was baffling. He said: ‘We are committed to ensuring customers have clear and transparent information so they can make informed decisions about the products they choose. Following the FCA’s auto finance market review, new rules were set for the industry in 2021, which we have implemented. We continue to comply with applicable regulatory requirements regarding the payment of commissions and the disclosure of commissions to clients’.
Okay, but this has nothing to do with what Lloyds was doing in the car loan market between 2015 and 2021. Those who think they could benefit if the claim is successful can follow the progress by signing up at carfinancingclaim.com.
Premium bond rates are rising again
I am pleased to see the Premium Bonus prize rate increase again starting next September, this time from four to 4.65 percent.
Although avid reader Edward Browne responded to the rate hike by thanking me for cajoling the head of National Savings & Investments into doing this kind deed (Edward loves Premium Bonds), he is wrong.
While I have asked Dax Harkins (CEO of NS&I) numerous times to increase the premium rate, especially after a base rate increase, and he has responded by doing so, I made no such call seven days ago. .
So, dear Edward, this time thank Mr. Harkins, not Mr. Prestridge.
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