The day before you're due to fly out of the country for a well deserved holiday. You've got your currency, you're almost finished rounding up at work, the boarding passes are printed, the packing is almost finished. Sounds great, except when your bank calls to say they need to confirm some payments with you for anti-fraud measures. Great.
Luckily, all transactions were legit. Except they still insisted, against my wishes, on cancelling my card. And so my saga with Natwest began. I don't often feel compelled to write really negative review posts here, but as my experience coincides with the new banking regulations for switching banks, I thought I'd share.
Although inconvenient, I would have gotten over my card being cancelled just before my holiday. I managed to persuade them to let me get some sterling cash out first. But if it had been that simple I might not already have put in my application for a new bank account.
Over a week after cancelling my card, I arrived home from my holiday, expecting to see a new card on my doormat. Instead I had a letter from a courier who only deliver between 0900 and 1700 on Monday-Friday, telling me that they had been unable to deliver my bank card, and that I would need to sign for it along with ID. Great. I leave for work at 0730 and return at approximately 1800, 5 days a week, Monday to Friday. But it's ok, because I can rearrange delivery to work.... so I did.
And I waited all day. And waited. And then received a call from the courier, refusing to bring my card to my office, and adamant he would only come as far as security. A 20 minute walk from the office.
Over an hour of phone calls and dodgy hold music later, I managed to request (another) new card to be issued- by regular mail, complain, and persuade the bank to cough up since none of their phone numbers are free. Sorted I thought. I'm definitely leaving Natwest, but at least the problem is solved for now, I thought. Incorrect! Yes, it really does get better.
My new bank card has finally arrived with me, it took 4 working days, not all that impressive, but hey, it's here. Unfortunately, despite me stating clearly that I would like the option offered of keeping my pin number, the new card requires a new pin. This arrived the following day. I laid the letter down on a flat surface, as instructed. I peeled gently, as instructed. I placed the bit against a flat white background, as instructed. Nothing. Turns out the peel away bit more away with it than it should have done.
Another lengthy phone call, another long period on hold and over 1 month since Natwest first cancelled my card against my wishes, I finally have a working bank card with a PIN again. Jaded, much.
The introduction of the new rules on banks having to deal with the switch over of a new account are interesting. Many are saying it's a great idea, and it will make a big difference but I have 2 major problems. The first is that if a high street bank like Natwest can't get a simple debit card right, I definitely don't trust them to get their heads around moving my Direct Debits and payments from one bank to another. The second is that lots of the smaller banks already offer this service.
The bank I'm moving to already offer their own switch service to make life easier, and I can't help wondering if they will do a better job because they want your business a whole lot more, and they're used to this service because they've opted to offer it in any case. I also think that some of the smaller banks compared to the major high street branches have some great deals to offer- as do building societies. Their services appears to be much much better as a whole, and their incentives are far greater because they don't take your custom for granted, and I haven't encountered any inconvenience or compromise on products offered- in fact things like mobile and internet banking seem to be better than ever.
If you're having banking problems, I'd strongly encourage you to take a good look at other service providers, and whatever you do, steer clear of Natwest.