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'Can you believe what the bank tells you?' blog discussion
in Martin's blogs & appearances & MoneySavingExpert in the news
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Former_MSE_Paloma Former MSEForumite
This is the discussion to link on the back of Martin's blog. Please read the blog first, as this discussion follows it.
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But when it comes to abstract promises to pay, in particular the myriad of insurance based products they cannot resist "selling", their record of organised mis-selling is absolutely appalling. There is another banking example of a 1001 different answers on a type of promise to pay from any given group of 100 different bank staff on a different day of the week - something of a moving feast in the last 10 years too - who pays if customers suffer from fraud or mistakes? Invariably all responses and opinions are offered from behind opaque screens, often because frontline bank staff don't even trust their own employer when push comes to shove ... so better to dress-up a non-committal answer that the customer either takes or leaves, than risk committing one's employer to anything not first cleared with the Legal Department!
But let's stick with the insurance example:
Insurance based products sold by banks include a large number of the fee-based account add-ons.
Branch staff never learn facts beyond what they are told to learn to say in order to sell. With insurance products that is a particular problem to unsuspecting customers.
Household insurance for example is still one of the most complex insurance policies the whole industry sells, yet greedy banks and their equally greedy insurance company partners anxious for market share get away with letting unknowledgeable branch staff sell it. Regulatory compliance is a joke in this area. FCA allow a tick-box form of compliance - the sales spiel must include mention of a minimum number of exclusions and policy conditions e.g. three of one and two of the other. Such a regime could only have been dreamed up by a negotiators who haven't a bloody clue about the real risks to customers and who only consider risks to their companies. In household insurance, I even believe that the "Demands and Needs" sheet that used to be issued by bank staff on a mandatory basis when they sold a policy, was a simple printed sheet which was the same for everyone! What utter nonsense.
Household insurance might in some ways be compared with a complex software product such as Microsoft Word which we all use - each of us may only use 5% of the features of the product, and each of us uses a different 5%. Very few experts could sell us all the features and match them to our individual requirements. With Microsoft Word, there are few financial risks in buying into the product. One size fits all and we use the features daily, so it either works for us or we are using a different product anyway.
With home insurance things are much different. Many of us don't need to use any feature of it from one year to the next. Getting it wrong however manifests itself as a serious financial risk long after we buy it, and even if the seller is still around, we are denied the chance to discuss what went wrong with the individual that sold the pup.
Home insurance is just one example of what banks sell without having the knowledge or commitment to sell it properly and keep it sold.
If the seller never has to justify the original promise (a bank branch never sullies itself with any aspect of claims whatsoever) then the sales patter is continually developed in lop-sided ways merely to sell more. So he who dares wins, until yet another nationwide banking product scandal develops, after public consciences like MSE are successful, years later, at breaking down the barricades of false claims of original regulatory compliance.
Now, i received a letter from Santander saying they did not give us enough info ref risks about the Isa & Bonds Portfolio? Not sure what to do. Any body there to help please?..... ( no, i will not believe anything Banks say any more)
They are refusing to list 2 separate transactions and transfers I made on the same day to 2 different people, one was an electronic transfer of funds to another bank to an account that is not mine. Instead they have re-grouped the 2 transfers as one which was/is very confusing, specially when I found out that it did not tally with the amount received by the other person. When I complained to the branch and to the branch manager I was treated like the village idiot for demanding an accurate statement! I then complained to their head office who has not only apologised for the appalling way I was related by their staff but they caterorically refuse to correct their record by listing the 2 transfers of fund.
What's the easy, fast, way of communicating in writing with your bank? Online messaging. It's 2015, which banks provide it? Santander, First Direct and... let's add Norwich and Peterborough Building Society even if they are not a bank just to reach 3. Somebody else?
Now, why would a bank not provide online messaging?
They are just too incompetent to understand that their customers want or to actually implement it.
They don't want people to easily get answers in writing.
Now let's take Santander, that provides that online messaging. I don't know exactly what triggers the problem (a too long message, if you take too long to write, the use of some special character...?), but sometimes when you click on "send"... your message simply disappears without it being sent -> Incompetence
The staff you see in the branches are as competent as the ones that do the online banking. So you can't trust them. Sometimes they are right, sometimes they are not. They are not right more than 90% of the time. With an error rate of more than the 10% it doesn't matter that 90% of the time they are right... you are forced to ALWAYS double check in the terms and conditions to get some confidence in the answer.