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Roger Elwell - Yes Please

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Bank Compounds The Mailshot Insult

19 January 2009  |  3266 views  |  2


As I indicated in a previous blog, I sent a letter to my bank seeking clarification about my credit standing with them after they had sent me a loan offer priced at the astronomical rate of 19.9%.  I asked very clearly for a response that expressly addressed what had changed in my specific circumstances.

You won't be surprised to hear that I have now received what I would call a 'number 32' standard response.  What I mean by this is that the so-called 'Customer Relations Manager' (CRM) probably scanned the letter, didn't look into my circumstances at all, decided this letter was about loan pricing and selected a template from a standard suite of letters.

In it, the CRM tells me that: 'various factors are taken into account when calculating the interest rate available to a customer, for example credit history, account activity and existing borrowing.'  I am also reliably informed that: 'Rates can also depend on the term and amount of the loan, together with a customer's personal pricing.'

You don't say. 

Had the bank's representative read my letter properly, they would have noticed that I was probably a banker, or ex-banker who probably knew all of the above already.  Had they thought about the content of my letter still further, they would have seen that a) I was not happy at the insult and b) I wanted a considered response that addressed my specific issues.

I can only conclude that they either don't care what customers think, or they are so inundated with complaints that the CRMs only have time to scan a letter for the likely main topic and bash out a standard response.

Interestingly, over the weekend when I went in to the bank's internet banking site, there was an offer telling me that I had been pre-approved for a larger loan than the one mentioned in the mailshot.  When I clicked-through to apply, the rate on offer was 9.7%, not 19.9%, so I am now left wondering how crap their risk systems are.

The other laugh is that, probably generated by another department, they have been trying their best to recruit me into their premium banking service over the last 12 months...

I know I am wasting my time, but they are getting a response from me, asking them to a) address the issues I raised properly this time and b) explain why the online offer is so different.  I guess I'll get the brush-off again but, if I do, it's the Ombudsman next, or maybe the FSA, or both.

Ridiculous, isn't it?

TagsRisk & regulationRetail banking

Comments: (2)

Peter Roberts
Peter Roberts - UCL - London 19 January, 2009, 16:04

Is it cost cutting that leads to shoddily trained staff? Or are people these days so badly treated that they become demotivated and rubbish as a result? A 10% difference in interest rates does strike me as pretty huge tho'.

I'm disillusioned with banks - especially for saving with their generous interest rates. I might try Zopa.

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A Finextra member
A Finextra member 20 January, 2009, 08:23

Humm,  I'm just wondering, if you need a personal response, why use a letter and/or internet, when they are known to be the least personal modes of communication? If I would have a problem with my bank, I would call them, and if the call would not settle my issue, I would book a personal appointment at the local branch. At least that's how things are done here in Finland.

No one here sends the bank a snailmail letter and expects to receive an intelligent response, because sending a letter involves efforts like writing it, printing it, finding an envelope, buying a stamp, taking the letter to the mailbox and still waiting for two weeks for a response.

It's so much easier (for both parties) if you just grab your cell and call them. My bank answers the phone normally in less than 30 seconds with personal service, and if the problem cannot be solved on the phone, a personal meeting can be booked for tomorrow or the day after that.

And yes, I work in that bank, but this is how it works for all our customers.

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Consulting to the financial services industry with a specific expertise in the cards business - issuing and acquiring.

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