Searching for somewhere to put my savings after a “this year something, next year not much” agreement, I happened on a good deal at the Halifax. The banking adviser – in her 30s, married, a human – didn’t know enough to look through the papers I brought with me to get the details of where the money was to transfer it. Nor did I.
I had to come back when I had found the information at home among the documents I had already taken in.
Would I like to use them as a bank? The bank which held my accounts for 30 years had refused to let me move my account from Hampstead to a closer branch, although I have lived 20 miles away for a decade.
I hesitated. I explained: I live on state and a small private pension. I have a small amount of what I call back up money. Stupidly hopeful after the persuasive advertisements, I wanted to be reassured of a smooth transaction. It was the week before Easter. Allowing for the holiday weekend, the adviser claimed it would take a couple of weeks.
I wrote to the erstwhile bank to advise them of my plans. As expected, there was no reply. They don’t do customer relations.
Printed material arrived from the Halifax confirming the transfer and execution of standing orders plus the £100 you get for joining.
This was followed by a statement of my account and I transferred outstanding funds from one bank to another by cheque.
A month later I received a further statement of account. No pensions.
There was a minor tussle about the form of my name. It was duly noted but not executed. I had a bank card in one variation, a cheque book in another and a credit card in a third.
In trying to sort this out, I had written to the female signatory of the credit card business saying yes, I was disappointed – because I had asked from the outset and had been assured it could be done – but no big deal, don’t intend to use the credit card, sorry you were bothered, please note the form of signature on everything will be thus. The letter was passed to customer services.
I received an apologetic letter which seemed to have certain personal touches and offered me a £50 sweetener, changing my name to the preferred form on the second chequebook.
I wrote to the male signatory of the customer services letter on 31 May, quoting the Halifax reference on his letter to me, saying that the money I had transferred did not appear on my statement and my pension were now missing for 2 months. I was frightened.
Eventually the third statement arrived with the balance transferred but no pensions so, preferring to see the whites of someone’s eyes, I went to see the banking advisor.
She greeted me with “All the direct debits have come through.”
I nodded. “You’re good at taking money out. Where are my pensions?”
She looked taken aback. We sat down. She said the transfer team had emailed the Department of Work and Pensions for my state pension to be referred and the Prudential similarly for the private pension. Neither had received any notification, they said.
This is now Mandy Rice-Davies’ territory – “Well, he would, wouldn’t he?”
The banking advisor got first one and then the other on the line and I spoke to them both. They told me payments had been going to the old bank and probably would do so until July.
The banking advisor handled me well and assured me I could always come to her.
Three months, not a couple of weeks.
I did not mention the letter to customer services which I only risked because there was a reference.
Sure, different people deal with current accounts and personal banking from those who deal with credit cards but what about a telephone? What about personal initiative?
Keeping an elderly person uncertain about their income doesn’t seem to be very much in keeping with the theme tune of a choir singing “I’ll be there”.
I dread shooting the messenger. All the counter staff have been civil, some are charming. The problem, as I wrote in the letter I bet hasn’t arrived, is the disconnect between the promise and the reality.
Why don’t the transfer team check with the banking advisor?
Why doesn’t the banking advisor check with the transfer team?
Why doesn’t customer service liaison check with the banking advisor and/or the transfer team?
I have written a second letter to a designated director since then. Not a word.
The post loses post, emails disappear into cyberspace.
X marks the spot.