This is not going to be a rant, just a straight description of my recent adventures with the Bank of Scotland. If any of this seems odd or unsatisfactory from a customer’s point of view, I leave a judgement on that to the reader.
Some years ago I disposed of a (very) small business which I owned, and I closed the Bank of Scotland business account which I had opened for it. In fact I had made very little use of this account – the charges for deposits and cheque payments were unattractively high, and the account was really only used on the relatively rare occasions when a customer paid me by cheque – my main clients mostly paid by bank transfer (which was much cheaper) and my smaller customers almost always paid in cash (which, of course, was free).
So I went into the Dunbar High Street branch of Bank of Scotland, sometime around October 2011, handed over my cards and cheque book and paying-in books and returned the (unused) security token which I had been issued, and requested that the account be closed. All the bits and pieces were accepted over the counter, but I was told I would have to write to a particular address in Basingstoke to get the account closed.
OK – I did that. After this I received occasional letters advising me of subsequent changes to interest rates and account terms, but you would expect that – this is a bank, after all, and banks are idiots. In 2013 I was sent a replacement security token, which I promptly returned to the Dunbar branch.
Around February this year I received a letter telling me that the terms of this supposedly dead account were to change; from some date in the near future I would start paying some £8.60 per month just for the privilege of having it – if I were to use it in any way, of course, the charges would be much more punitive. So this time I gave up on the losers in Dunbar, and I went to see my friends in the North Berwick branch of BoS, told them that I thought I had already got rid of this problem, and asked them to sort things out, since I really didn’t want to pay anything for an account which I didn’t want or use, and which I had thought no longer existed.
The lady on the business desk was very helpful – she found my account on the computer files, and told me that they had never closed the account, since it had a positive balance of £2.42. This was a bit of a surprise, since I thought it had been empty when I closed it (or failed to close it, as it appears).
Anyway, now I received £2.42 in my hand, and signed a couple of bits of paper which authorised the bank lady to close the account. Very good – job done.
Not so fast. A letter arrived today to tell me that I now owe them 71 pence, which will be billed to this same account on 17th April. A statement was enclosed, dated 10th March, which shows that I was billed £0.70 for the debit of £2.42 from the account because – well, because that’s the charge for a withdrawal – plus an additional charge of 0.65% of the amount withdrawn – i.e. 1 penny.
Presumably they have been unable to close the account this time because there is a negative balance. Furthermore, apart from the potential monthly account fee of £8.60, I fear that I may be about to be hit with a further charge of £15 for having an unauthorised overdraft of 71 pence.
Whatever else I might have imagined I would be doing tomorrow, I now realise that I will be going back to the Bank of Scotland’s North Berwick branch at exactly 9:30am, and I am sincerely hoping that I will find some grown-ups in. I trust and believe that those lovely people will do what is necessary to prevent any further cost and inconvenience, but if they do not manage it I think I can promise that a rant will follow sometime later.
Just off the top of your heads, can anyone think of a single reason why we should continue to deal with retail banks? I have to confess that I am struggling to come up with anything.