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Why won’t MBNA send me paper statements?

<span>Photograph: Roman Lacheev/Alamy</span>
Photograph: Roman Lacheev/Alamy

I recently received the fifth attempt from my bank to stop me receiving paper statements. MBNA informed me that, due to “some issues”, I will have to receive statements digitally. As a former bank employee, I recall introducing “strategies” which were primarily in order to reduce costs, but were marketed as “improvements” to customer service. It seems to me MBNA is using unspecified issues in order to reduce its cost base.
MB, London

I received a similar letter from Halifax citing unspecified “issues” and promising to let me know when mailings could resume. So did most customers of the Lloyds Banking Group brands, including Lloyds Bank and Bank of Scotland. Like you, I assumed cost-cutting was at the root of it. The announcement coincided with the news that Lloyds planned to axe 2,500 jobs to save money. And, like you, I have resisted tricks and traps to get me to switch to paperless banking. Why? Because, in common with thousands, I only remember to check my income and outgoings when they arrive in an envelope. And because paper statements are required as proof of identity by many firms and authorities.

Lloyds group terms and conditions state customers can opt in to paper statements by clicking a link, but that is no longer true. The link produces a message stating that the option is unavailable. Lloyds would therefore seem to be in breach of contract. Not so, it told me. It insisted customers could still get paper statements if they braved the customer service phone line, or visited their nearest surviving branch, although its letter makes no mention of this. Nor would it elaborate on the rationale. It informed me its motive was “prudence”, not parsimony, to “protect against any possible future issues” and that customers who did not bank online were unaffected.

Those possible future issues would appear to be the struggles of the subcontracted printing service, Communisis, used by MBNA and the Lloyds group. It is haemorrhaging money because banks have steered so many customers away from paper statements, and is now up for sale. It declined to comment.

I asked the regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, if banks could unilaterally decide to halt mailed statements. It said: “We are aware of some technical issues affecting the production of paper statements. We expect firms to manage such operational issues and keep customers informed.”

I’m not expecting to be informed of a resumed service any time soon.

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