10 minutes

Jesus H. Christ on a bike.

A quick recap for ya, whilst re-mortgaging Louise and I freed up some extra funds. The mortgage has been processed and we got our cheque for a not insubstantial amount of money (well, to us anyway). However as the mortgage is in joint names, the cheque we received was made out to the same, which is a slight problem as Louise and I don’t have a joint account. It’s one of those things we’ve always meant to do but have never really had a reason to until now.

So, two weeks ago, we nipped into the local branch of my bank to get Louise added onto my account. Simple enough, right? We sat with one of the staff, filled out a form and were told it would take around 10 days to process as the form had to go to ‘central processing’. Despite the faint whiff of bullshit, we let it pass after garnering assurances that everything would be in place in 10 days (and yes, we asked if he meant “working days”, but no, he was going by the calendar).

10 days passed and I phoned my bank to check if the details had been added. They hadn’t and, worryingly, nothing was showing on the ‘system’ as pending. I phoned the branch and was told that I would be phoned back. Guess what…

I phoned again the next day, three times, and the final time was told that the information was “being keyed into the system” today. That was Thursday. Friday I phoned the bank to see if the details had been added or, at the very least, were pending. Nope. Nothing. Nada.

Four phone calls later I was assured that I would be phoned back. Go on, guess.

This morning we went to the branch to find out what was going on. A very helpful young lady answered my question with a puzzled look and said that she could get that done today for me.

Slightly bemused we followed her to the desk where, after confirming that we’d completed the form and that, despite having it with us, proof of identity wouldn’t be required (understandable as we were sitting in front of the guy whilst we completed the form), she turned to her computer and started, and I’m guessing here, “keying in our details”.

10 minutes later, job done. She took our cheque, made sure it was successfully processed into our account (bar the usual nonsense about “3-4 days to ‘clear’ “) and we left the bank. Fuming quietly and already drafting a complaint letter in my head – more on that later.

We did a little shopping, including some yummy Baklava from the market, and headed home. On the doormat was a letter from the bank stating that we had neglected to supply enough information and would need to re-complete the form before they could process our ‘application’.

I’ll be returning that form with my complaint letter which will ask why we had to wait 10 days for something that we were told, this morning, could’ve been done there and then. I’ll also be pointing out that they’ve cost me 10 days interest on the money, and that as far as I could tell, between the original staff member of the branch, who obviously didn’t have a clue what he was talking about, and the phoneline staff who, whilst helpful, obviously don’t have access to the right information as at no point did ANYONE tell me that the ‘application’ was awaiting additional information, they might want to look at how they treat their own customers.

After all, I could’ve walked into one of their competitors who would’ve happily opened me a new account and I’d have had access to MY money within a couple of days.

Not that I’m gonna have the money for long, part of pays off some debt, the rest goes on servicing the car, new tyres, and a new front door. Ohh but I do get my new camera, hopefully in time for taking to Spain..

Anyway. Banks. Complaint letters. Suggestions? There are a few of you out there who are infinitely better than I at drafting these things, so I’d welcome your ideas.

First draft of letter below the fold (names changed to protect the.. er.. incompetent?)

I am writing to complain about my recent service from a member of staff in your branch, and also to complain about the processes and systems in place generally across the Bank of Scotland.
Having recently received a large cheque – for around £xx,xxx – made out to my wife and I, we chose to have my wife’s details added to my bank account. I contacted Phoneline in the first instance and was advised that a visit to a branch would be required. As we currently reside in Hamilton, we visited the branch on the morning of the 7th of October.

We were greeted by Fred, who completed the form for us, and advised us that processing of the details would take around 10 days as the form had to be passed to a central processing centre.
10 days passed and I enquired, again through Phoneline, if my wife had been added to my account only to be informed that not only had she not been added but there was no such action pending. I phoned the branch and left a message for Fred who neglected to return my call. I phoned again the next day, twice, and finally managed to speak to Fred who apologised for the delay and told me it was being “keyed into the system today� (this was on Thursday the 19th, 12 days after we completed the form).

I contacted Phoneline the next day, only to be told, again that no such action was pending on my account. I was passed through to the branch and left another message for Fred who again failed to return my call that day.

This morning (Saturday) we visited the branch again, and were greeted by Wilma who said she would look into the matter for us. Having checked the system she confirmed that she could get my wife’s details added to my account there and then. 10 minutes later it was done. She was very polite and apologetic for the delay and seemed puzzled as to why things had taken so long.

Needless to say I was somewhat bemused and very angry that, what turned out to be such a simple task, took almost two weeks. However, returning home we received a letter in the post from the bank stating that the form had not been completed correctly and that some details were missing.

I would suggest that the passing of information between your systems needs to be looked at, if details were missing from the form, why could no-one at Phoneline tell me that?

I am concerned that as this procedure took only 10 minutes this morning, I have not only missed out on almost two weeks worth of interest for the amount we were going to deposit – a not inconsiderable amount – but I would have been better placed opening a new account with one of your competitors. It would have been considerably quicker.

Whilst I realise the actions of one member of staff do not necessarily reflect the quality of your service, this debacle has been enough to make me consider switching accounts to one of your competitors.

As a customer of the bank for over 11 years I sincerely hope your complaints procedure is functioning properly.