Abbey Anger

This is a really long rant about Abbey business banking. If you have no interest in such a thing or are already convinced of the incompetence of Abbey / Santander Group then there is probably no point in reading further.

Bitfolk‘s business account is and has always been with Abbey business banking. The initial account opening back in early 2007 was very quick and painless being almost entirely done over the phone, but getting access to the online banking proved to be a bit more difficult (and it seems I was not the only one).

For a start, they wanted my three security answers posted to them by normal mail. This did not seem very secure, but I did it anyway. After a couple of weeks it still wasn’t working, giving the useful message of bean error not found within scope, so I had to call customer services. They wanted me to post the details again, but I wasn’t willing to do that so after a great deal of persuasion they eventually agreed to accept a fax.

After a few more days, still with the same error, I had to call again. They wanted me to fax again saying that maybe it had got lost! I faxed again. It “got lost” again. I called again and demanded to be able to give the details over the phone or the account would be closed.

This almost worked! They apparently input my mother’s maiden name incorrectly, as every time it would ask that question I would always get it wrong. If I reloaded then it would ask another of the three questions, so I was still able to use the service. Given the pain experienced so far, I preferred that to speaking to customer services yet again.

Fast forward to yesterday, Monday 8th December 2008. I go to log in and Abbey (well, Santander, I assume) have changed things. In order to transition to the new online banking system I have to give my mother’s maiden name, and of course it does not work. Oh no, time to bang my head against the customer services wall.

Inevitably the phone lines were incredibly busy. I was on hold for over 45 minutes before I got to speak to a human. She took my name, date of birth, account number, business name, debit card number, expiry, recent transaction history and account number (twice). In between doing this she went away several times for 5 to 15 minutes at a time. By the end of all this I’d been on the phone for well over an hour only to be told that they “have no access to the old system at all.” I’d have to wait for some details to be posted to me again by normal post, and this would allow me to log in.

I pointed out that I needed access to the online banking to process payments from my customers, to which I was told, “oh, you can do that on the phone!” Well, not really no, not when it takes an hour to get to a human. I was then told that this was my fault for not sorting it out sooner.

I asked for the customer services representative’s name as I wanted to complain, and she just said, “Ashley.” I asked for her surname and she actually refused to give it to me! I was told that if I wanted to make a complaint then her first name and the time of the call would be sufficient.

I asked to speak to a supervisor and was again put on hold for around 10 minutes, after which time “Ashley” returned to inform me that no supervisors were available and all I could do was give her my phone number so that one would call me “before close of business tomorrow”! Meanwhile the paperwork had supposedly been put into first class post.

It’s now the next day. There was nothing in the post this morning from Abbey and I have as yet received no phone call from a supervisor. Their phone line is open until 9pm but I’m not calling it again at my expense and the chances of them calling me now seem slim.

This sort of delay with the post is expected near Christmas and is one of the reasons why doing this by post is unacceptable to me (the others being security-related, and the likelihood of a repeat of their shambolic handling of paperwork from before). The complete futility of calling customer service and the rudeness encountered even when making an effort to keep an even temper though is the really irritating thing.

It’s time to look for another bank.

Update December 15th, 2008:

It’s now a week on. I’ve received one of the three pieces of information I’m told I’ll need to use the online banking, so I’m now entering my second week without access. If it isn’t sorted out this week then I don’t think it will get sorted out in 2008. I’ve not received a phone call from anyone at Abbey.

Bitfolk was turned down for a Business Direct account with HSBC.

Update December 16th, 2008:

The remaining two pieces of information arrived today. I’m now able to log in. However I’m unable to do anything except look at the list of transactions since I keep getting the “Not authorised to perform this function” and “You currently have only one account linked to your card” errors. It says I have to call them. Great. At least I can now process payments from customers again.

NatWest have provisionally approved a Business Plus account and are sending me the paperwork.

Update December 17th, 2008:

Abbey got my business account working again this evening.

Meeting with Barclays on Friday about a business account.

Update January 9th, 2009:

Someone from Abbey’s complaints dept. phoned me and said he would look in to my complaint and that there may be some compensation for the inconvenience caused.

17 Responses to “Abbey Anger”

  1. MJ Ray Says:

    Sympathies! I’m on the way out of NPBS after their Javascript-infested online banking website failed to cope with Firefox 3 and they failed to fix it within a few months. My list at http://mjr.towers.org.uk/blog/2007/banking#list had a good mark besides Abbey Business Banking after http://news.zdnet.co.uk/software/0,1000000121,39237282,00.htm announced official support but I guess I should temper that a little now.

  2. Matt Says:

    Looks like you’re not the only one complaining:

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/12/10/abbey_business/

  3. Abbey’s new online banking keeps customers away from their cash | The Evolved ISV Says:

    [...] Last week I was, “Not authorised to perform this function”. Several hours of customer calls later and the result of my hard earned time is a refreshingly new error message, “You currently have only one account linked to your card”. I’ve also seen another rather more cryptic error, “bean error not found within scope”. Apparently I’m not alone as a quick Google search reveals many other business account customers ha…. [...]

  4. Mike Wilson Says:

    I feel your pain completely. Know that I was either in the queue before or after you anf this cost me more than a few hours (and a few quid) last week and the problems still aren’t resolved…

    I highly doubt that this affects just a “few” customers as Abbey have mentioned. It’s got to affect almost all of us.

  5. John Wood Says:

    Same problems, an hour on the phone last Tuesday, 40 minutes today.

    I can’t move money between accounts any more and it has lost some payments that I have made (for which I have the transaction numbers).

    Not only that, they told me last week it would all be fixed, this week I am going over the same ground and they don’t even have a record of it…

  6. anon Says:

    I actually work for another one of the large banks and have to say the processes there are pretty similar to the pain you have went through.

    e.g. no give out of second name, managers refusing to take the calls and telling the advisors to “objection handle” instead. sending crap through the post which takes forever to come instead of dealing with customers query, offering customers call backs from their branch instead of dealing with query.

    you get the idea.

    managers too busy fucking about to deal with customers queries or agents who need help.

    needless to say andy, i think they are pretty much all the same – or at least abbey and <> appears to be.

    //waits for someone at work to read this and try work out who iam to give me the boot. bastards.

    enjoy.

  7. Tom Kinnaird Says:

    All was going well with my new Abbey account until this weekend. The annual tax bill is due and like a few people I wait until the very last possible day to make the payment. Unfortunately though the Abbey is unable to authorise card payments this weekend? Strange I thought so I gave them a call. Yes there was a problem right enough but it was due to be resolved by 5pm. So I waited and tried again but still nothing is going through. Back on the phone to be told that business support won’t now be available until Monday. I wonder if they’ll be reimbursing me for the £100 penalty imposed by the revenue for late payment? We’ll see.

  8. Piers Hogg Says:

    My partner has a personal e:account (ESaver account?) which has been blocked by Abbey due to a fraudulent transaction. Said fraudulent transaction being the transfer of £20,000 from her late father’s executors’ account into the E:account. She is an executor of the account. Transfer took place in early December.
    It seems that the fraud they suspect involves folk paying in cheques and withdrawing money before the cheques have cleared, well the cheques’s been there for over 6 weeks now, so I guess it’s cleared.
    Abbey have never made any attempt to contact her, she has called several times. They seem to be making up rules as they go along. The latest suggestion is that she gets a solicitor’s letter from the executors’ account, I stress again, she is an executor.
    What are they on ?
    Any advice, similar experience, campaigning groups would be gratefully received.

  9. Andy Says:

    @piers, I would recommend asking for advice on the MoneySavingExpert forums: http://moneysavingexpert.co.uk/

  10. Phil Porter Says:

    Abbey are the worst bank I have ever used. When they upgraded the system I was left completely at risk. I discovered someone had taken £13000 from my business account. Since I couldn’t log in (I would have noticed the fraud and perhaps may have had time to cancel it) and the phones where so busy, I had to wait 2 extra days before I could even tell them something had happened.

    That was in Dec 2008, I’m still waiting for my money back now (feb 10th 2009). The stress this has caused in unbearable.

  11. Bev Taylor Says:

    Since the upgrade I have not been able to view statements on the website. After almost 3 months Abbey have yet to resolve this. Spend 1 1/2 hrs on phone today and waiting for someone to call back! They never do! Is there anyone out there with the same problem??

  12. Mike Wilson Says:

    Hello Bev,

    Yup; I have a similar problem where one company can view the other company’s accounts and via versa. One company can action the other company’s accounts (transfers) but the other cannot. It’s a total mess.

    It’s all to do with how your cards are “tied” to your accounts. And phoning them is the only way.

    On my blog I’ve published the complaints email address and telephone number and the direct dial numbers. Hope this helps.

  13. Bev Taylor Says:

    Mike
    Think that this might be the problem. Today we decided to be “difficult” and refused to go away. They finally logged on using my partners log on details so that they could see the problem first hand. It was suggested just now that it could be a mix up with our names being allocated to the wrong cards. It is one business account with 2 different names and each having own debit card. Wish I had know this 3 months ago. Awaiting their call! Thanks for info, we only call on 0800 as I refuse to pay for phone call.

  14. Mike Wilson Says:

    You’ve got an 0800 number that actually put you though? That’s incredible. I always get someone telling me, “Please redial on…..”.

    As a workaround someone told me (and I’ve checked, it works) that you can use your cards in the ATMs in order to make transfers and payments. The ATM system is totally different to the online system (and both have been upgraded).

    Unfortunately, I’m still using workarounds to deal with Abbey at the moment. It’s not the best, but it will do for the moment!

  15. Bev Taylor Says:

    For business account call on 0800 056 5151
    I know I can use the ATM but the nearest is about 12 miles away, which is fine when we want to pay in but no good for day to day account checking. I have written to complain 3 times now over past 3 weeks and written to Financial Ombudsman. They never rang back and when I made my last call on Friday I was told to be more patient. I think I have been during last 3 months! I have given up and will move my account now.

  16. Robbed Says:

    Awful Abbey in my opinion aided and abetted an Ebay scammer to take my funds.
    After we paid £650 for a TV (one of five from the same seller) on ebay we soon realised it was a scam, by some miracle Abbey did the right thing and froze the scammers account suspecting it of fraud.

    They asked me to send them my account info to unfreeze the account. I said no way I had contacted my bank, the police and ebay as this was a scam. They said they would not use my info to unfreeze the account but would still need it as proof I sent the money etc. I agreed to send it under those circumstances.

    Upon next contact with Abbey they said they had used my details to unfreeze the account and all funds had been cleared. Despite knowing the Account holders name Abbey, the Police and ebay did nothing.

    I guess if you have no morals and want some easy money just putting five why not 10! fictitious TVs up for sale on ebay and just keeping the money is your answer as I can tell you from experience no authority cares and no action will be taken. Still trying 5 months and counting..

  17. The ongoing struggle » Blog Archive » More abject Abbey failure Says:

    [...] Last year Abbey screwed up and caused me significant problems in my day to day BitFolk business. They were unable to convince me that they would improve in future, so I voted with my wallet and BitFolk sought another bank for business purposes. I had to keep the abbey accounts open though because some customers wouldn’t alter their standing orders etc. (even when repeatedly asked). [...]

Leave a Reply