Let's all have another whinge about banks. Once they were the very epitome of pin-stripedness with an arrogance to match. Then there was that 1980s era when the bank managers loosened up and urged you to call them Bob and have cosy chats. Sense of false security coming on anyone?

Then they closed all the offices, funnelled everything through call centres and put you through password-riddled hoops before you could get at your own money. I think we know why.

Now they are desperately short of cash. Is that why they are hitting on the most vulnerable? Kevin Jones, who runs Shotton Lane Stores in Shotton, Clywd, rang to say that his bank had just called him in for his annual business review. His charges, they informed him, were going up from about £800 to £3,500 for cash handling. "They said for every £100 we deposit in cash we have to pay 55p. My main charges now will be about £4,400. It's more than my rates," says Kevin.

He recounted the experience to a retailer friend, who said his charges had risen by £5,000.

Kevin points out that it is specifically only small shops that deal in cash these days and he does all he can to alleviate it with a self-fill ATM and a cash-back offer to customers. But, as a customer himself, he adds: "The banks don't seem to like customers anymore."

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