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Long-winded terms and conditions

HSBC head up a list of banking offenders hiding behind ludicrously long-winded terms and conditions.

The list, compiled as part of research by consumer group Fairer Finance, also embarrasses Norwich & Peterborough Building Society, Metro Bank, Natwest and Halifax, who all carry terms and conditions that somehow manage to run on incomprehensibly for over 25,000 words. HSBC’s terms and conditions, clocking in at a grim 34,162 words, are 5000 words longer than George Orwell’s Animal Farm.

Nationwide’s bank account terms and conditions are less daunting at 11,000 words. What are HSBC’s extra 23,000 words for?

Car insurers Endsleigh, Sheila’s Wheels, Esure and M&S Bank are also responsible for policy documents running beyond the 30,000 word mark (Endsleigh manage a whopping 37,676, within a few words of the length of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness), whereas, making them look a bit daft, LV manage a similar document at a mere 6901 words.

Fairer Finance go on to reveal that, of 2000 people asked about small print, only a quarter bother (and who can blame them?) to attempt to read them, and only 17% of those can understand the information.

Fairer Finance urge banks and insurers to cut their word count, remove jargon and legalese and lay information out in an accessible, clear way. Their founder and Managing Director James Daley had the following to say.

Of course it’s important that customers know what’s covered and what isn’t in their insurance policy, but if one company can do the job in less than 7000 words, there’s no excuse for insurers who are producing documents five times as long.

The Fairer Finance article - The worst banks and insurers for small print revealed

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