Thursday, November 19, 2009

Please Excuse Me Now While I Go Scream

If you ever get a chance to deal with Barclay's Bank (in the U.K.), don't. Not that you need this warning; the Bank itself will prevent your being able to do business with it.

All we want is a checking account. That's it. A checking account, so we can pay bills in England, in sterling. Nothing complicated, right?

Well, we've been trying since July to accomplish it. We called Barclay's twice a day for weeks, or according to them, multiple times a day. (Not the branch where our old account was or is, because they do not appear to have a telephone number; or if they do, it's a big secret.) After months of this, we gave up and went over there in October, to oversee it all in person. We filled out a mountain of paperwork, provided two picture IDs each, signed all sorts of things. Back in the States after that, we've called them a dozen more times. None of this has gotten the job done. Every time we think we've finally resolved every issue, it turns out we haven't. Not only do new issues arise, but it turns out the old ones are still unsettled as well. The nightmare just won't stop.

So our current status is, we have a brand new account, but only I have access to it because they say Demetrios' paperwork is incomplete. And despite our explicit, written instructions, the funds from our old account (the one we have no access to from this side of the pond) haven't been transferred into the new. So, because we didn't know that, the new account is overdrawn. We still don't have checkbooks, nor have we yet received the paperwork for Demetrios to fill out AGAIN. The overdraft notice? THAT has arrived.

The only reason we haven't dumped Barclay's is that our solicitors strongly advised us not to, saying it would be even more difficult at a new bank, where they don't know us. Well, they know us VERY, very well at Barclay's! And I'm sure they'd be as pleased to be rid of us as we would to be rid of them. We WILL figure out how to accomplish that! Eventually.


DebD said...

oh my, what a hassle. I hope it isn't a foretaste of life in England.

Chris said...

My sister lived over there for a year and half studying at Oxford. She was essentially carrying thousands of dollars in cash on her person (never, never adviseable) becauase of the hassles of opening a checking account in England. It's not just Barclays, it's all banks in England. I know how frustrating it was for my sister and I'm sorry it happened to you too. Hopefully, it will be resolved soon.

elizabeth said...

oh no! hope it gets better... hard to do things over seas...

margaret said...

Italy is worse :) Our banks have been terrible since widespread computerisation. They think this means they can employ virtually no staff, pay the people they do have in peanuts and that any computer system will do no matter how clunky. Mine (Lloyds) wasted my whole lunch hour just to close one deposit account and open another... but they didn't, they kept the old one open and took two direct debits from my current (checking) account that month and would have continued to do it if I hadn't asked what they thought they were doing.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Deb, thank you, and I join you in that hope!

Chris, was you sister there in the pre- or post-9/11 era, I wonder?

Elizabeth, you're right, but it shouldn't be THIS hard, should it?

Margaret, are you sure your account isn't at Barclay's?

Well, that's two British institutions we've established aren't working very well. The office of the Prime Minister and the banks. If we can add about 10 more to the list we'll be catching up with Greece!

Greece's banks, at least, are extremely easy to deal with.

Elizabeth @ The Garden Window said...

I know what you mean. That bank (sniff!) has had my custom for 27 years. One day I went into my local branch to draw out some money, and was told I did not have sufficient ID to do so. I had my cheque book, cheque card, credit cards etc. But it was not good enough. I apparently needed a photographic driver's licence. But I don't even drive !

I went to my husband's bank a few doors away, explained what had happened, and they happily set me up with an account there and then.