On searching the holy grail of decent banking and Barclays blowing its chance

Here we go again, another month another banking trouble. When I first moved to the UK, I never thought that banking could be an issue. Surely UK plc is a sophisticated and state-of-the-art bunch, let along their financial industry, with their City and worldwide banking mammoths.

But I was 180º wrong, and I cannot yet believe the amount of hours I spent dealing with a third world banking system any reasonable Indian Ocean island would be ashamed of.

Once again it has been Barclays and its Inquisition-like customer distrust. My past experience should have thought me otherwise, but for some strange reason (namely a bonus ISA savings account) I thought of giving Barclays a go with some, just some, of my business. I tried moving a direct debit into the account and see what happened.

Two months have passed and two months I have been charged £35.

I don’t like giving anything for free, specially money, and that’s why I keep a residual amount of money (£9) in my current accounts and keep a close eye for debits arriving, and moving funds then from online saving accounts.

Twice in a row, Barclays charged me their “unpaid debit” friendly fee of £35 –the last one yesterday.

The story goes like this, looking to the account balance on the very day the debit is due, I am never overdrawn. It is then when I transfer online the amount to be debited before the branches even open.

The surprise comes the morning after, where I always find out that the direct debit bounced back (even though that is not what my online statement showed the day before) and they charged me the infamous fee.

Last month I decided to complain directly by letter, but since it happened again, today I decided to go directly to the branch.

The person on the desk told me that I should have enough funds in the account “the day before the direct debit arrives”. We started then with a long argument that attracted a senior member of staff on the reason why I must have the money in my account the day before a direct debit arrives.

Surely that is the whole reason why you set up a direct debit, to make sure that the payment goes through your account on day X, not day X-1.

According to their branch staff, the reason why the payment always bounces was because they transfer the money to the direct debit company (?) at “a minute past midnight”. Since I paid the money into the account at 8am, it was already too late and the direct debit always bounces back.

After much time and anger wasted on trying to understand how a payment can bounce back in the same date that payments in are made. As far as the banks statement shows, all the transactions happened the same day…

I waited for the branch manager, and 30’ after trying to cool down, I told him the same story.

And right there and then I realised that Barclays values my trustworthiness below the price of a monkey’s ass. They bounce back my direct debits (at £35 a pop) because they don’t think I am going to pay the same day… and that is even though I do transfer money in from my savings account… a savings account that holds money in it… along with my ISA account… that also has money in it.

So Barclays doesn’t even trust me for 8h. As usual, I am thinking of cutting off my ties with the bank. But to be honest, the branch manager refunded the £35 and acknowledged that their complaints department was dealing with my last one.

I have tried everything, basic accounts, premier accounts, plus accounts; I hold ISAs, online savings accounts, flexi accounts, stock sharing accounts, you name it but so far I have had some kind of argument, disagreement or just plain nonsense from the now-Barclays Woolwich, Lloyds, HSBC, Barclaycard and the credit card services of every single one of them. I have lost my faith in homo financieris britannicus.

.Calvin

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