NatWest Business Client Implodes

Banks are very topical at the moment and, in Chez Nous, The Listening Bank aka NatWest is causing extreme grief because they certainly don’t exercise extreme listening.  Allow me, if you will, to explain . . .

Five years ago I bought my first business.  So?  It took NatWest Business Banking in Hornchurch A YEAR almost to the day, to switch the account to me.  Stunned?  Yep, me too, as I’d worked my way through 3 separate ‘troubleshooters’ on the way to satisfaction through the complaints procedure.  I’m now selling the business and completion should be tomorrow – excuse my mirth – but NatWest has scuppered that good and proper.  Now, please catapault yourself through time and space to the first week of February this year …

Keen to ensure a smooth transition, and still bearing scars from the earlier experience with The Helpful Bank, I rang the Business Centre to ascertain their requirements to transfer the account.  My heart sank as I was told I would have to close the account.  No dear, not happenin’ as the asset of the business is the account which receives monthly standing orders.  Off the lady went to consult with colleagues and she returned with the same story.  Now, sensing the beginnings of losing my grip on reality, I explained that in May 2007 it was necessary to lodge an official complaint, quoted the number and asked her to read the notes so that a replication of the actions taken then could bring a speedy solution without loss of life – OK, I only thought the last bit!  Colleagues were again consulted while I was plugged into mind-numbing music until said lady returned and, as if by magic, told me all I had to do was send in a change of partner form.  Great, this correlated with what I’d ascertained in the local branch and I already had the form in my paw.  No problem.  It was looking good and feelings of elation rocketed through me.  It was going to be simple this time . . .

Ten days ago, I sent in the form by Recorded Delivery.  Last Friday, I rang NW to progress chase and was told form was with the Mandate Dept and they would ring if additional info was needed.  Initially, I took their radio silence as a positive but, knowing NW of old, at 3.00pm yesterday thought I’d call to confirm all was on track.  I came off the phone at 4.40pm, having been mostly on ‘hold’ but intermittently speaking to ‘John’ who was relaying messages from the Mandate Dept.  My request for a call back when a solution was in place fell on stony ground.  Long story short – I can’t change the partners because it’s the wrong type of account – thoughts of leaves on the line crashed into my thinking.  No, the Mandate Dept don’t speak to the public, so can’t progress without the middle man.  A raft of further demands are relayed via John which have sprung up since my initial enquiry.  I asked to speak to his manager and am told he’ll find Bahti.  Bahti’s AWOL, apparently.  She’ll ring me back.  Radio silence.

This morning, at 10.00, rang NW and asked to speak to the elusive Bahti.  Bahti won’t speak to me now but she’ll ring within 24-hours but can’t do anything as John, apparently, has lodged a complaint on my behalf (news to me as no such request was made) which means that only the Complaints Dept can deal with the case.  I stand Bahti down as there’s no point in a courtesy call, especially 24-hours late!  Ascertain that their Complaints Procedure states they don’t contact a complainee (is that a word?) until 48-hrs have elapsed.   To clarify, I ask “Are you telling me that nobody will speak to me about progressing this matter until late afternoon tomorrow?”, “Yes” was the reply.  I was, and remain, in speechless disbelief.

Meanwhile, the sale completion cannot take place until the account is transferred as purchaser won’t accept workable alternatives.  Perhaps the cost of my phone calls (0845 number x 100 minutes yesterday and 20 this morning and previous calls in February) can be deducted from manager’s bonus and reimbursed?

So, what next?  Answers on a postcard please.

  • Liz

    I’d send you my sympathies and a large bottle of painkillers of choice. I would honestly but I need them myself for dealing with the bank with the worst customer service reputation – Santander. I’ll be tackling mine via the Finacial Ombudsman though.

    Good luck – you’ll need it.

  • oh Janet, I imagine this resonates with so many of us. In fact, you could probably write a book on banks incompetency alone. I have a good few stories of my own from two years ago when I was “trying” to sort out my brother’s estate. Those phone conversations made me laugh (hysterically) and even made me cry once… Much sympathy and cyber-hugs coming your way. best, Sally
    ps. I do remember one particular gem when I repeated back to a bank lass, “So let me clarify that last point, you are only able to discuss my brother’s estate with me if my “dead” brother confirms that in writing to you”. There was a pause and then she replied (I kid you not) in a quiet voice, “yes, that’s right!!”

  • Janet

    It’s like Groundhog Day, isn’t it?


  • Janet

    I’d love to comment but it’s the wrong kind of blog and if it wasn’t, it’s my policy to allow at least 72 hours to elapse before I put my name to anything.

    I know you won’t be happy about this, so don’t worry, I’ve already lodged your complaint with my Complaints Dept, which in this instance is me but unfortunately I’m away from my desk for 24 hours so I’ll get back to you in 48.

    That’ll be £25 please.

  • You have my full sympathies Janet – I’ve been on a voyage of discovery of the sheer incompetence of various financial institutions recently, but nothing to the extent of yours! I feel your pain too, Sally – many of the problems we’ve had have been to do with trying to sort out my Father-in-Law’s estate. Which bit of “He’s dead” do they not understand?!
    Deep breath and… breathe…
    Hugs and much love winging its way to you Janet x

  • Dear Marion

    As a lowly and obviously irritating customer, I would hate to cause you harm and distress by expecting any degree of competence in the very short timescales quoted. Please note I do appreciate you will need to fit in losing my paperwork, the system going down, various changes of staff and language difficulties before even realising what my problem is. Please take your time and be sure to increase the fees you charge for your customer service facility – I do use the term loosely, of course.

    Yours in severe disgruntlement

    The One Who Ultimately Pays Your Salary

  • Thanks, Sarah, sympathy gratefully received. However, it must be so much worse to be having to fight corporate incompetence when already dealing with the grief of losing someone special. I hope you’re able to sort our your Father-in-Law’s estate without further hassle. Indeed, deep breaths . . . Janet

  • Utterly unbelieveable, Sally, that someone could actually be stupid enough to utter those words. Personally, words fail me on this occasion! Yes, perhaps we should write a book on experiences such as yours. Thanks for sharing. Janet

  • It most certainly is, Judith, only more frustrating! Janet

  • Funnily enough, Liz, I was speaking with someone this afternoon who ended up seeking help from the Financial Ombudsman regarding her complaint to Santander – good luck with that one and, don’t worry, I have my own painkillers to hand! Janet