On Barclays wasting my time and its shareholders’ money, the squeaking chair gets the oil but at what price?

Today I received another phone call from an “unknown number”. As I said yesterday (On Barclays customer services trying…), I do not normally pick up phone calls from people who’d rather keep their identity anonymous, specially if they are from a bank (what are they scared of anyway, their own customers contacting them?.)

Not surprisingly, M. a Customer Relations Assistant wanted me to call him back on 0845 300 4149. As I had nothing at all to discuss, I declined again to contact him back.

But hold on, it seems that my complaint letter (On Barclays profiteering…) went somewhere, at list for Calvin Ltd. (What happened with the chain of fees within and outside Barclays? They don’t care, I do.)

What a pleasant surprise! (if I can apply that to getting what is mine, in this case, £35).

As today was meant to arrive Vodafone’s ludicrous bill, I just went check online the balance in our account and I found that Barclays had refunded the £35 that they wrongfully and immorally took from our account.

I should be happy, I guess, but I am not. In the last 12 months, I had to chase them three times for the same amounts, same complaints, same results. I got always my money back what makes me think that the solution is ALWAYS complain (as long as it is fair to do so).

Still, it made me think how inefficient this bunch are and how much hassle and time wasted for the economy, business and customers this Barclay’s business practice entails.

Thinking of the stakeholders:

– They (we, I) waste their time, money and mental health dealing with irrational, undertrained personnel just to go full circle and get your fees back.

– Of course, the above it is only true if you have the time, money and patience to take on the long journey to common sense.

– Of course, there are dead ends, where no one will apologise or solve the problem, and that’s it. The Financial Ombudsman Service applies at this level, but it will depend who you deal with, I have been lucky some days and unlucky others. [Advice: mention the FOS in your complaint letters, sometimes it makes them shake their derrieres]

– And how many customers do not have the time, money or patience to deal with constant complaint letters and effectively add to the bank’s bottom line?

The Bank
– Being inflexible, incoherent and profiteers as they are, the banks have to allocate resources (human, money, time) to contact back the customers and pay attention to their complaints. They will automatically send you a template acknowledge letter and the telephone carrousel will start.

– Like the dangerous curve that costs more to fix than the cost in lives it takes every year, paying back £35-worth of almost pure profit every now and then to the pain in the butt customers who don’t stop moaning is cheaper than getting your act together and be fair to customers. All the while destroying the bank’s image (after so many awful experiences, I cannot step in a Natwest or Woolwich branch, and I bin any communication or offer from Halifax, Lloyds TSB and Barclays).

The shareholders
– So the party is over, no more looking away in exchange for hefty profits from the investment banking side of the business. If you look back to the original purpose of banking (lending money to customers from other customers’ savings and pocket the difference), you will see that huge inefficiencies have spread throughout the organisation overtime like a cancer.

– Your return on investment is being damaged not only by the market conditions (there is no much you can do there) but by useless methods and procedures that bring no profit (unless you steal from your customers, but that’s a vicious strategy that sooner than later will hit your bottom-line) and generate customer discontent and redundant job positions.

– They sold you outsourcing as efficiency, and it is not. A business that doesn’t control its own operations and quality loses respect from customers, Are you sure your investment is as secure as you think? If your bank survived the credit crunch (and it looks like so far Barclays has), are they really focusing on customer service?

– For 5-years or so, customer service was at the bottom of your priorities, but look across the Atlantic, the last surviving investment banks are morphing into deposit-taking lenders (Goldman and JP anyone?), perhaps it is time to reconsider the value of the little saver. They are many, and they have been treated like worthless money-purses.

– I bet you’ve got your own banking nightmares to share with us.

I guess that this is just a battle won, but until common sense and customer services get back on the table, the war is still on. I guess that is going to be one of the few good things coming out of this recession and financial mess we are in.



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