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.