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David beats Goliath in banking coup

31 Aug 2007

David beats Goliath in banking coup Students are this week celebrating after forcing a remarkable U-turn from a banking giant.

There was student outrage recently after HSBC announced it would be scrapping free overdrafts for graduates - and would instead charging them interest at a whopping 9.9 per cent.

Recently, however, the student fightback has gained momentum.

A group was set up on the Facebook website, entitled Stop the Great HSBC Graduate Rip-Off! - and it attracted over 4,000 members.

Yesterday, HSBC was forced to bow to the wave of discontent. It announced it would be freezing overdraft charges to recent graduates and repaying charges deducted in August while it held talks with the National Union of Students (NUS).

A spokesman for the bank acknowledged: "We are a service-oriented organisation and we have to listen to our customers - that is a priority for us.

"It's a good example of where a medium like Facebook has enabled customers to tell us something they feel strongly about."

Wes Streeting, NUS-vice president, said: "There can be no doubt that using Facebook made the world of difference to our campaign.

"By setting up a group on a site that is incredibly popular with students, it enabled us to contact our members during the summer vacation far more easily than would otherwise have been possible.

"It also meant that we could involve our former members - the graduates who were going to be most affected by this policy."

Graduates are now waiting to see if this really is the end of interest charges on their overdrafts - or if other banks are going to attempt the same move.

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