A note on colonial banking arrangements
>> "encouraging people to close their accounts at high street banks and deposit their money with credit unions instead"
Actually this is mandated by a knowledge of simple arithmetic. Anyone who has their main business with the big banks probably has a first name relationship with the drooling idiot at McDonalds due to eating there every day. Why people accept their abusive terms of business escapes me.
Example - I recently changed jobs and as is fairly normal in the US my new employer <bigcorp> has a 'special relationship' with one of the big banks. So as part of the induction process you get a pitch from the bank. Being new to the area I open an account (it's free and convenient - also you need a local bank to write a cheque - there is no concept of a cheque guarantee card). Skip forward a few weeks and the old truck I'm driving finally starts to show signs of incipient mortality so I consider replacing it. Go to onsite bank branch waving flier promising 'great service and special offers for <bigcorp> employees'. Undergo 30 minute grilling about income and assets. Get told I'll get a decision 'soon'. 36 hours later I get an email telling me that the wonderful reduced rate for a car loan will mean payments of $X (where X is a suspiciously larger number than I was expecting). Takes 4 more email exchanges before they will tell me what the interest rate is that they think they are charging (which actually worked out to 19%). They were proud that they were only charging 11.5%. So - not only are they thieves - they can't do simple maths either.
As the alternative I'd also contacted the convenient credit union at the same time. The conversation went like
"Got a job ?"
"Yeah - work for <bigcorp> - new starter"
"Welcome to <state> - brought a payslip with you?>
"Yup - here you are>
"Thanks - home address ?"
"Yup - wrote it all down (Note - I do this because the foreign accent tends to confuse the colonials)"
"Thanks .... keyboard keyboard ...... approved - 3.5%"
For those of you that are old enough to remember the local building societies (before they sold out) it's kinda like that