• David Remington

My bonkers banking balagan

Warning: rant alert! 

Summary: My high street bank is terrible and, unless they do something dramatic to change, they will become a thing of the past thanks to new digital banks.

OK here we go. As my company has customers both in the UK and abroad, I have both a Sterling and Dollar business account with one of the big high street banks. My goal was simple: pay my supplier in dollars. Sounds easy right? How long do you think this process should take? Let the saga begin...

For some reason, dollar accounts are not available via online banking and payments cannot be made over the phone... a fact which I only discovered after spending a significant amount of time on hold getting through to the right department and passing security. I was therefore instructed to go into my local branch to make said payment. 

Total so far: 10 minutes

So a month ago I walked to my local branch and, after queuing for some time, I asked to make a USD transfer to one of my suppliers from my USD business account. The look of confusion and panic was an interesting start but soon we got underway. 45 minutes of numerous corrections later, we got there and I left the bank in a rush for my next meeting. 

Total so far: 1 hour 25 minutes

Cue last week when I received a non-payment email from my supplier. I checked my proof of transfer but the supplier confirmed they had definitely not received the money. I took to the phones and, 20 minutes of discussions with the bank later, it turned out the branch had inputted the IBAN incorrectly. Thankfully this mistake meant that the payment failed rather than going to another account, however it did mean another trip to the branch.

Total so far: 2 hours

So back I went and was once again met with a look of horror and confusion at what I would consider to be a pretty simple request. The first person didn't know how to do it so I was passed on to their manager. I handed over the original papers and said I needed the exact same transfer but with the corrected IBAN.

- Attempt 1: incorrect account inputted

- Attempt 2: incorrect post code

- Attempt 3: changed wrong post code

- Attempt 4: correct post codes but incorrect account again.

This was then followed by much confusion regarding whether they should put my GBP or USD account number on the form. Several phone calls to their specialist team later and we were back on track. After reviewing the final pages I left hoping that it would in fact be sent from the USD account and not cause my GBP account to be massively overdrawn with a whopping exchange rate fee!

Total so far: 3 hours 5 minutes

An hour later, I receive a phone call confirming that the payment will definitely be made from my USD account.

Final total: 3 hours 10 minutes

It's absolutely crazy that in today's day and age, we face this experience when trying to do something as simple as making a payment in a foreign currency. Over three hours for a task which should have taken no more than three minutes. This industry reminds me of the video rental industry just as Netflix was getting started.

With traditional banks providing such a poor customer experience, and charging a fortune to manage multiple currencies, I myself will be moving over to one of the new digital banks disrupting this marketplace.

Have you had a similar experience? Have you tested out the new digital banks like Starling, Revolut and Monzo? How do they compare?

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