Yesterday, I felt rather concussed, having had two more sessions with NatWest in the morning, following on from Wednesday’s when I actually felt I was making progress. If you’re feeling strong enough, allow me a little therapy as I share the continuing saga with you. As a recap, I’m selling my business and wish for two partners to retire and two new partners to be substituted – rocket science, it isn’t.
Further to Tuesday’s saga, John reported a complaint on my behalf which, in effect, released his department from doing anything to such an extent that he didn’t have the courtesy to inform me he’d done this. So, no call from Bahti who still isn’t available. I’m told she will make a courtesy call to me within 24-hrs. Stand her down as there’s no point in a call from her if she can’t progress the matter.
Ring Complaints Dept and speak with a very helpful lady who agrees the whole thing has been handled badly, says she’ll include all I tell her on the notes and someone will ring me later that day. No call. Ring Complaints Dept next morning, explain about non-call back and repeat that helpful lady yesterday has updated file. No record of my call and no additional notes on the file. I’m then told I will receive a letter within 5 days acknowleding my complaint, followed by NW taking action within 56 days – no, that wasn’t a typo. Can’t tell me when as they deal with cases in rotation on a screen. Pleasant girl but quite obviously reading a script and won’t deviate therefrom to answer my questions. Tell her – again – I didn’t initiate the complaint and suspect it was placed to absolve NW Business Banking from taking action. Not prepared for a potential wait of 56 days, I cancel ‘my’ complaint, regroup and tackle the original lot again. They tell me they can’t do anything but I counter saying John’s proxy complaint is cancelled.
Get through to someone in inner sanctum who says they can’t/won’t change partners in the account as it’s a partnership and not a limited liability partnership account. I point out they set it up originally and that I took it over from previous business partners in 2007 – well 2008 before they completed the changeover. Sorry if I’m boring you but the level of incompletence is blinding. I’m told banking has changed since then and regulations have changed. Press for info on what regs have changed. Told actually they haven’t but I would be putting NW at risk to introduce partners without them being checked – well CHECK THEM THEN. This conversation is with the less-than-lovely Gail who features again in the story later. I pointed out that I could add partners to the existing account which is permissable. “Yes, you could, but we know what you’re planning now and you’d be using a loophole and we won’t allow it. It’s not your problem anyway as you will have sold the business. You might think the bank account is a business asset but it isn’t”. I ask if I opened another account, could they transfer the standing orders over? Gail tells me they would for a personal account but they won’t transfer from a partnership account to a limited liability partnership account. It’d be easier to get through the gates of St Peter than past our Gail, who’s clearly on a mission to protect NW’s potential exposure by the actions of a major threat, little ol’ me.
Locate a number for a NW hotline “staffed by senior managers”. Ring them in the hope that common sense will prevail. Brian is very helpful and says it’s just a case of submitting a change of partner form. Yes, Brian, it is. He tells me to ring the Business Dept again and speak to someone senior. I explained that it’s difficult to get through the various desk attendants to reach them. My Hero says he’ll speak to them for me. Brian rings back for the business incoporation number. I sink back into my chair in short-lived relief and gratitude. Then Brian delivers a devastating blow – it’s not as simple as he thought because it’s the wrong sort of account. I know how a drowning man must feel . . .
In a mitigating measure, Brian provides contact details of a senior manager to ring in the Business Dept, which I do immediately, only to have my hopes crushed – a very irritable Gail answers. Her customer service demeanour requires a bit of work. She says: “You might as well stop ringing around the country trying to get another answer because it isn’t going to change.” I beg your pardon? I point out that I’m ringing that number having been advised by Brian, a senior manager within NW, to do so. “He rang here and I told him the same”, she said, obviously very uppity that her advice should be questioned. In his final conversation with me, Brian did say he couldn’t deal with it because of “complications” and suspect the complication may have been Gail. Even Brian said we’ll have to get our clients to transfer over.
OK then. Need to think laterally. Consult husband/company accountant. Financial Ombudsman features in the conversation but I’m on a limited timescale and that could take months – I need to find the quickest way to the money, so to speak. We’re probably going to have to move the clients accross or be fighting NW for months. Husband rings NW and says we want to open a limited liability partnership account in the same name. Seems fine. Jane’s in ‘Opening Accounts’ is very helpful. Give her details of new and existing partners. I’m promised the paperwork will be emailed to me by 5.00pm yesterday and, guess what? I’m still waiting. I feel Gail’s hand’s in here somewhere in the same way as I feel a letter to the Chairman coming on . . .