JEFF PRESTRIDGE: If only Halifax was as prompt with rate increases for savers as it is informing customers of changes to Bank of England base rate
If only Halifax was as prompt with announcing rate increases for savers as it is informing customers of changes to the Bank of England base rate.
Last Tuesday, the savings arm of Lloyds emailed customers at 4.25 in the morning – informing them that base rate had changed. ‘We want to help you understand what this could mean for you,’ it said.
Of course, it hadn’t. It wasn’t until two-and-a-half days later that the great and good at the Bank of England decided to push up base rate from 0.75 to one per cent, its highest level for 13 years.
Overdue: The quicker Halifax gives Everyday Saver customers a fairer deal – the better
Halifax did admit its error later on in the day with a follow-up email and apology, but as the reader who sent me copies of the emails says: ‘If only the bank were as prompt with its savings rate increases.’ Too right.
For the record, a Halifax saver in its Everyday Saver account saw their interest rate cut to 0.01 per cent in March 2020 following two quick reductions in base rate as lockdown loomed.
Since then, the rate on Everyday Saver has been tickled up by 0.14 percentage points to 0.15 per cent. In contrast, base rate has gone up by 0.9 percentage points.
The quicker Halifax addresses this anomaly – and gives Everyday Saver customers a fairer deal – the better.
As we have been saying since base rate started rising last December, it is time to give savers a rate rise. Now, or in Halifax’s case, two-and-a-half days ago.
Former top boss blasts Santander’s service
A former chief executive of an insurance company contacted me last week. Normally, missives from insurance bosses (past or present) come in the form of bleats about what I have written about the business they run (or did run). But not this time.
Instead, he wanted to complain about the terrible customer service he had recently received at the hands of bank Santander.
Shoddy: Customers are complaining about Santander’s slow service on Trustpilot
Last weekend, he tried to open a kid’s bank account (mini 123) for his daughter. But he spent more than an hour on the phone patiently waiting for someone to answer so he could be helped with the application.
He gave up in despair. As he pointed out, his frustrating experience is not an isolated one. Customer review website Trustpilot is awash with similar experiences.
‘The queues on the phone lines are simply unacceptable,’ said one reviewer four days ago.
‘In the last three weeks, I have spent over seven hours in total holding on their queue system listening to an electronic jingle playing ‘Welcome To My World’. Why don’t they employ more people?’
Another said: ‘Terrible customer service. Get [got] disconnected after waiting at least 30 minutes on [the] phone.’
Santander’s overall Trustpilot score is a miserly 1.4 out of five, worse than most rivals although no bank gets particularly good scores.
For example, Nationwide Building Society gets 1.8 while Metro Bank (the doyen of good banking customer service) receives an average score of 2.3.
The former chief executive says such poor service from Santander is unacceptable and should be on the radar of the regulator.
I asked Santander by email to respond (I avoided the phone for the above reasons). I’m still waiting for an answer.
Still chasing FCA over Woodford
Last Thursday, I sent my regular email to the Financial Conduct Authority. ‘Is there any update on the scheduled publication of the report into the Woodford debacle,’ I asked, referring to its ongoing (and painfully slow) investigation into events leading up to the suspension of the Woodford Equity Income investment fund in June 2019.
A suspension that crystallised losses for hundreds of thousands of investors.
Not a dicky bird in response on the Thursday. I fumed a little, but then I realised I was being a little unfair. Last week, its staff were on strike over pay, so it was wrong to expect a swift response.
It did redeem itself on the Friday when it confirmed its investigation into Woodford remained a ‘priority’.
I will continue to ask for updates on the investigation. Victims of the Woodford investment meltdown may argue that FCA staff seem to have been on permanent strike since June 2019. I couldn’t possibly comment.
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