My name is Keith Adams, and my bank doesn’t want me to buy a new car.
Last week, I went to look at a new addition to the fleet, and after agreeing a price and handing over a small deposit, I told the seller that I’d transfer the money (or at least the majority of it) electronically in the next day or so. I was happy, he was happy – we all seemed happy. That was until the banks got involved.
The purchasing decision was made on Tuesday, and after a couple of delays at my end, I requested a transfer from my Internet savings account on Thursday afternoon. A snag was immediately hit – the bank told me that my payment ‘would be delayed in order to perform anti-fraud checks’. The delay was said to be 24 hours, which meant payment would hit the seller’s account on Friday.
Except that it didn’t. And when I checked again, my bank informed me that these checks would take a further 24 hours, and as that hit a weekend, payment wouldn’t land in the seller’s account until Monday morning. By this time, the seller is quite rightly beginning to wonder whether I’m spinning him a yarn. After all, it’s going to be a week before he receives his money; and his bank’s telling him that Internet accounts should indeed be instant.
Come Monday morning, and the money still hasn’t left my account. This is now getting embarrassing, and I make a ‘phone call to the bank to vent my spleen. After all, I have removed this money from my savings account (as they won’t let me transfer from there), and into my current account. And you know what that means at the end of the month.
After working through multiple menus, I get through to an adviser.
‘Hello,’ says I. ‘I’d like to talk about a transfer I’m having trouble with’.
‘Of course, sir,’ he says. ‘How can we help?’
‘I have a transfer that’s being delayed due to you making anti-fraud checks’.
‘Ah, nothing to worry about sir, it’s random and not against you – and will clear through in 24 hours.’
‘I made my payment on Thursday. It’s now Monday.’
‘Yes, ah. I now have a troubled seller, and I really want to pay this guy. And you’re stopping this.’
‘I can see why that’s a problem.’
‘How can we rectify this? This guy needs paying now.’
‘Well, you could go to your branch and pay it over the counter.’
‘What’s the point of Internet banking?’
‘Exactly, it’s a poor system.’
‘Okay, so I can’t do that. Could you at least inform him that the money is coming?’
‘Sorry, no we can’t do that. His bank doesn’t know payment is coming.’
‘But it’s the same bank!’
‘Yes, but his branch won’t know of the payment, even though it’s delayed.’
‘But he thinks I am trying to do him over. Do you have any other suggestions?’
‘Not really – just tell him to wait, it will be paid.’
‘So what are these security checks?’
‘Sorry, we can’t tell you.’
At that point, I realise the bank had got me by the knackers, and I really was at its mercy.
My next thoughts are simpler. Okay, I’ll finish an hour early and hit the counter myself. I check on the Internet to see what the opening hours are. 9.30-5.00 it says on site, so I should have time. You know where this is going. When I arrive at the bank at 4.45, it’s closed, and there’s a note on the door – opening hours 9.00-4.30. Bugger. I text the seller – ‘sorry, the bank’s operating in the 1950s, and it’s closed.’
I receive no reply.
The following morning, I check my account again. And guess what? The transfer’s finally been approved, but has been bounced, as my current account is now overdrawn by £46, following some payments coming out from my recent trip to Germany. ARRRRGH!
Another transfer from the savings account to top up the current account, and again we try. And this time, success. Finally. The seller is successfully (and slowly) paid. A week after we shook hands on the deal.
My experience has been a salutary one. If you have savings, stick ’em in a box under your bed. Or buy gold with it. Or classic cars. Anything aside from putting it in the bank. Okay, so it’s a string of unlucky experiences, but it really shouldn’t have happened in 2012, especially given the potential benefits of electronic banking… as far as I am concerned my hatred of the banks has just been ramped up yet another notch (and it was already pretty high, given the world events leading up to – and subsequent from – 2008’s global banking collapse).
I’ll let you know what the new car’s like. Assuming that’s okay with Barclays.