Barclays going at it again. Account on credit, and returned cheques

I don’t normally insult or use swear words, but I think Barclays deserve to be called Bastayrds out loud.

The reason is no other than the fact that the Bastayrds did it again. A while ago I had a go for their twisted ways of playing the hours in a day and poor product knowledge at a branch level (On Barclays profiteering…)

Back then they told me that a pound paid in on a day at 0:01AM didn’t count towards paying direct debits that arrived that same day, as they said the money should’ve been in the account the day before. They direct me to their account’s T&Cs and somehow unsuccessfully tried to tell me that there was nothing they could do as the direct debits were run from a different company.

Fast forward 10 months later. Lesson learnt, we paid a supplier with two cheques, one for £500 and another one for £1,219.50. To make sure there were funds in the account on September 2 we transferred into the business account £1,719.50 from the Bastayrds savings account. If you want to follow the story, you can check the bank statement below:

BarclaysStatement

So by the end of September, there were £2,300.85 in the account. The bank statement above shows so, but for some strange reason, the cheques that on September 4, appeared as paid, today appear as unpaid even though there were funds in the account.

Now, again I haven’t got the slightiest idea why this happened. The supplier hasn’t contacted me yet (it’s currently Saturday night) but I know we are at it again.

As you can see, today is September 5 and there is a standing order for £90.02 due on Monday. Guess whose standing order this is? A Barclayloan.

Am I allowed to think that since we don’t have an overdraft facility, they cancelled the returned the cheques to make sure that THEY were getting paid?

I am mad, very mad. Again.

Again I have to waste emotional energy in trying not to shout, not to get angry, not to swear at a Barclays brainless staff member because, after all, they ARE brainless. Someone told me once that they train their branch staff “not to make decisions.” Urban legend? I don’t know, but it surely fits my picture of reality. How long am I going to waste on this? Any second is too long. And I still haven’t seen their returned cheque charges.

.calvin

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On Spain looking down the tunnel, is that the exit or just a train coming?

I am sorry, I know I am a voluntary expat, but Spain is just the land of the joke. Yesterday three things happened that made me corroborate as a right idea leaving the Peninsula.

1. The financial health
The FT informs us that “Spain acts to help lenders”. Is this the same Spain that a few weeks ago was still bragging about the soundness of her financial system? The same Spain that was so proud that the rest of Europe was turning towards the “Spanish way” of dealing with bank reserves? (all coming from the Banesto/Mario Conde disaster of the early 90s). And I am still watching Banco Santander with a pinch of salt…

2. The moral and legal health
On a different note, again the FT tell us of how to do business in Spain. As a Dubai friend told me once, if you are not from Dubai [Spain], don’t try to do business without a local in Dubai [Spain]. And if you do, you will probably get ripped off and the court will not rule in your favour.

Anyway, the story is that of César Alierta, the chairman of Telefónica, the telecom monopoly (let’s call things what they are) that skins Spaniards alive with the most expensive mobile, landline and internet prices of any Western country (claim denied by the Spanish government, though). This fella, just set up a company to oversee his insider trader deals. In the best interest of the few, the court just cleared him of accusations of insider trading because “too much time had elapsed between the alleged offence and the start of judicial proceedings”.

3. The job market health
We heard drums of record unemployment in Spain (near 20% doubling the rate 12 months ago and near my own prediction of 22-25%). Also that the heat wave has brought American cockroaches to Barcelona. Inspired by G.W. Bush, I decided to launch a preventive attack on the little fellas and spent this morning ringing insect exterminators for my flat in El Born.

Conclusions:

a) Unemployment in Spain is partly out of laziness or deeply stupid laws and regulations. I only found two companies who worked on weekends but none did on Sunday. With unemployment over the roof, one would think that the government would relax the law and that people would be willing to work whenever.

b) The country is a rip-off. For a Roach Killer Gel I can get in a drugstore in USA for $6, they wanted €80-180 including spraying (and a 6-month guarantee when the gel producers promise 12 months).

c) All the companies I contacted quoted me the cost of the roach-raid with and without VAT, for my convenience. “In any case”, one lady told me without even thinking I might be a tax inspector, “you will get your 6 month guarantee”.

Sunlight might be the best of disinfectants, but surely rottens your spirit.

.calvin

On the British People’s Bank of Halifax hiking credit card rates

I have a mortgage and a credit card I pay religiously every month to the British People’s Bank of Halifax and to my surprise I received today an ugly piece of marketing literature. It didn’t even come in an envelope, so I almost discarded it, but close inspection made me realise that the content of the flyer was much important than the dress it came in.

Changes to your Halifax Credit Card Conditions

[…] The compound annual interest rates on your credit card will increase to the following:

  • Purchases 25.95% p.a. (variable)
  • Balance Transfers 25.95% p.a. (variable)
  • Cash Advances 29.95% p.a. (variable)
  • Credit card cheques 29.95% p.a. (variable)

The charges will apply to your account from your June 2009 statement date. […]

 

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On how not to run a bank, don’t trust Barclays online banking to work every day

There was a time when if your competition made a fool of themselves, you would storm in and get their customers. Market mistakes translated into a drop in market share.

But that was in the old days, my friend. We have reached such a level of mediocrity, that not only businesses don’t learn from their own mistakes, but neither take advantage to learn from their competitors’.

Paraphrasing Peter Griffin, what grinds my gears today is not other than Barclays online banking. Expecting some cheques to be charged today, I have been trying to unsuccessfully log on since this morning at 8am. With the usual routine (HSBC), I’ve tried with all computers, operative systems and internet browsers at home and I couldn’t log in. I gave up and went for a short run to check on the newly born lambs that pepper our backyard. Continue reading

On Barclays customer services trying to mend bridges? There are no bridges to be mended, just apologise and refund your fees

A few weeks ago I wrote what was then the latest of my bank problems (On Barclays profiteering…)

That very day, I tried to send them my complaint using their disastrous online form. For some reason I couldn’t work out (probably the length of my letter?) I couldn’t send it, so I just wrote that, that I had a complaint but couldn’t send it.

Lucky enough, I received an acknowledgement reply from them (customer.relations@barclays.co.uk) and I sent them my too-long-for-your-complaint-form complaint.

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On Barclays profiteering from honest customers using their 24/7 rule and the ‘returned payment’ chain

Hobbes, seriously, the banking system in the UK get away with so much that once they put themselves in the spotlight as brainless individuals of dubious IQ as they have, we should move to regulators (SEC? FSA? even worse hollow heads than the bankers themselves), and then get rid of this politicians who, against public opinion, should be paid 10 times more than they are and made accountable (and fired if needed) as any executive of a listed company.

Anyway, what made me mad today was Barclays profiteering. Again.

Let me tell you a little story. We’ve got a small business and we try to manage our minimal finances as independently and debt free as possible. A mistake of the past was getting a loan for 50% of the cost of a van that we needed at the time but not now.

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On learning something once and for all, bankers wouldn’t make it as bricklayers, Madoff’s $50bn lesson to the mortals of the world

Hobbes, in June last year we bumped into one of my girlfriend’s friend and her husband.

Me, an amateur entrepreneur (if that is possible) trying to make ends meet.
Him, a successful London-NYC currency trader friends with movie stars, up and coming successful Spanish tennis players, and hooked on luxury hotels, cars and vacations.

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