Sunday, February 17, 2008

Banking with Abbey: reasons to get annoyed

I've banked with Abbey for seventeen years or so, and generally been a fairly contented customer. The move towards e-banking suited me to a tee, and as someone who doesn't receive a lot of cheques, I suffered little from the reduction in the number of cashiers available.

All this seems to have come to an end with the takeover by Banco Santander. My first problem came last year when, on a trip to the United States, I discovered that I was unable to withdraw money from my cashpoint card, as I had already done before. On returning home a week later, having assumed that there was a problem with my card, I rang Abbey, to be told that they had assumed that there was an issue regarding card theft, and rung me at home to seek confirmation that it was me in Washington DC attempting to withdraw money.

In vain, I pointed out the utter stupidity of such a strategy. If I am in Washington, I am hardly likely to answer my phone in London. If, on the other hand, I do answer the phone, it is sensible to assume that I am the victim of card fraud. This concept appeared to be far too complex for the Abbey staffer to comprehend. I then noted that they had quite happily allowed me to withdraw money from the very same account, using the very same card, from cash machines in such mainstream locations as Bogota (Colombia), Port Vila (Vanuatu) and Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam). This similarly failed to impress and I eventually concluded that a complaint was necessary.

Some weeks later, I was not horribly surprised to receive a reply effectively suggesting that it was all my fault for leaving the country without their permission, and that I should seek their authority to travel in advance, if I wanted to withdraw my money from my account. I admit to having ignored this advice to some extent - in fact, totally. So I shouldn't have been surprised when it happened again, in Washington DC (again) seven weeks ago. Ros is of the view that I should tell them, their fraud department in Madrid, and their wretched management to take a running jump whilst I take my business elsewhere.

This week, I received a telephone call at work from a woman purporting to work for Abbey. She asked me to answer some security questions and I made what I thought was the not unreasonable statement that I was unwilling to do so in accordance with the advice given to me by Abbey, advising me that I shouldn't give my security information to random callers. Denise, for that was her name, accepted that this was a reasonable stance. I then asked her why she was calling. She couldn't tell me this, as I had refused to answer the security questions!

I admit that I had a pretty good idea why she was calling, and we eventually were able to conclude the item of business in question but I find myself asking the obvious question, "Why are Abbey so paranoid about the possibility of me spending my own money, yet willing to telephone me in the expectation that I will give an unknown stranger answers to security questions without hesitation, in contravention of their own advice?".

It is my view that Abbey is a banking institution unfit to retain my trust and, therefore, my business. And, once the rest of my life has settled down, I shall be looking for a new bank with which to entrust the Valladares billions...


Anonymous said...

I gave up on Abbey National during the mid-1990s while sorting out my late father's estate - they had screwed him out of several thouseand pounds of interest

Abbey Online Banking said...

It would be great if banks were required to post their user satisfaction ratings on their homepage at al times. Actually, it would be great if all businesses did this.