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Aegon - a company with serious customer service issues
Like many I was an investor in the failed Woodford fund, in early February we received the first payment following its winding up. I received payments through Fidelity and Aegon (cofunds). The story of how each company handled the process could not be more different with Aegon a tale of obstruction, incompetence and distress and shows a company with serious customer service issues.
I’m no expert but I felt stocks were at a high and there’s a lot of uncertainty about so I wished to transfer the, thankfully for me, relatively small amounts to my bank account.
With Fidelity it could not have been easier even though I needed to amend my linked bank account details online, I still received the money straight away.
I have been with cofunds for 20+ years, probably nearer 30, and had the same linked bank account throughout that time, when I log into Aegon online the linked bank account is there clearly on the screen, correct sort code, account name and number and has been for many years. Aegon refused to transfer the money saying they needed a certified bank statement to prove who I am. When I queried this, they acknowledged that the account had been linked to my cofunds account for over 20 years and there had been regular monthly direct debits to them from this account but because I had never made a withdrawal they required a certified bank statement. As I bank online, paperless, I would need to make an appointment at a branch (do they still exist?) before sending it to Aegon and then they might believe who I am.
Given the respective polar opposites in approach to customer service, I decided to transfer all my investments with Aegon to Fidelity, the process seemed straightforward, Fidelity just required the details of my Aegon account to start the process. I duly copied the account details from my Aegon online account but then Fidelity contacted me to say “Cofunds (Aegon) Retail have told us they cannot carry out the transfer because they dont have an account with details matching those on the application.” Aegon customer service have told me that they have such a backlog of complaints they don’t know when they will be able to look into this so both myself and Fidelity can do nothing until Aegon decide to cooperate.
I have received an attempt at an explanation for the request for a certified bank statement which said it was industry standard where there had not been a withdrawal from a linked bank account (even one linked for 20+ years). They picked the wrong person to use this excuse, this is clearly not true as my experience with Fidelity shows. I have never previously made withdrawals from stocks and shares ISAs but I have a different approach when it comes to cash, I frequently move cash around, usually short term, fixed term fixed rates, you name them I’ve had an account with them. At the end of the fixed term the cash is transferred back into my linked bank account. How many times have I been asked for a certified bank statement: NEVER. When Aegon say it’s industry standard what they actually mean it’s a policy unique to them.
My experience suggests Aegon is a company to avoid but Fidelity is one I would recommend.