Co-operative Banking Trouble

And here I was thinking the people I currently bank with are incompetent. Turns out that the Co-operative bank aren't much better. Okay, so they have have a website that works in non-IE browsers, and you can call them 24/7 and talk to a person. However, because of their absolutely hopeless processing of my application for an account, I won't be banking with them.

I started out in late January, going to their branch in Islington High street to apply for an account (I went into the branch so I could show them my proofs of address and identity in person – I don't feel comfortable sending away original documents). The first problem I had was that the branch wasn't there. I called them up again, and they confirmed that the branch was at 1 Islington High street, which was obviously not true. I later found the branch a few hundred yards down the road.

Anyway, I wasn't going to let details like that to stop me. I went in to apply for an account and was taken care of by a pleasant clerk. After keying in my application he took copies of my details which we both signed. Then he went to fax them over to the head office, and when he returned I headed off to a GLLUG meeting, quite pleased with how painless it had been.

I didn't hear anything from the bank for weeks, so I called them up to get a status report. They said they were waiting for my proof of address and identity. I don't know how it happened, but somehow the head office never got my details. Or so they said, and blamed the branch for losing them.

I'm not easily put off, so I decided to give them another chance. By now my application had timed out, so they had to duplicate it. This was easy enough; they could do that on the phone. Now I only had to go and flash my details again. For this I went to their branch in Watford. First impression was better than for the Islington one; at least it's located where they say it is.

The lady I met there was very apologetic, was understanding when I said that this time I wanted to wait until I got the confirmation that the fax were sent before I left. She understood that I wanted this, she said, but then she said that their fax service wasn't operational on weekends. This struck me as incredibly weird, but who am I to argue. I got her personal number so I could call on if there was any trouble.

This far so good; when I called their telephone service on the following Tuesday they had received the fax with my details. They were currently waiting to be processed by the team that did that kind of thing. Fine.

Then, yesterday I got a letter saying this (errors and all):

We still need to see confirmation of your proof of identity. Please send us 1 original documents issued within the last three months, from different companies, from the list below.

a Bank, building society, credit union, credit card statements
b Payslip from current employer

By now I was really annoyed. This wasn't lessened when I called them up to query them about it; turned out the application number they had quoted me on this last letter was not my application number but belonged to someone else. OK, I thought, this was the drop; now I'm furious. Mixing up my details with someone else's is not to be taken lightly when done by a bank. I decided to not bank with them.

However, being royally pissed off I still wanted to find out what on earth they thought was wrong with my details, as I had brought much more information than they asked for in the first place, including (but not limited to): Passport, payslips, bank statements, drivers license, utility bill & letter from the tax office. They said that because my passport was Norwegian, they couldn't use it, and they therefore had only three pieces of id. They were adamant that they'd only received four pieces, so I can only assume that the female clerk got tired of feeding my copies through the fax and omitted ones she thought were not important.

Phew. I really needed to blow off a bit of steam; this ordeal really got me worked up.

Posted 13 March 2004 Copyright © Stig Brautaset