Advantages Good rates
Disadvantages Hurrendous service and efficiency
I was formerly with the Abbey. The Abbey had done nothing inparticular to offend or upset me as a customer, but for a higher interest rate and the above mentione offers, I thought I might as well make the shift to A&L.~Products and Services~Abbey National, offer much higher interest rates than the big four banks, HSBC, RBS/Natwest, Lloyds TSB and Barclays.
I obviously cannot comment on all products/services offered, but I will comment on my experiences with the products I have had or still have with this bank.Current Account:
Compared to when I switched from Natwest to Abbey many years ago, Alliance and Leicester were very slow. From initially requesting an account transfer to Alliance, it was at least 14 days until I heard anything, which, eventually turned up in the form of a letter. The transfer was finally completed a couple of months later. They cocked up my wages. They were supposed to contact my employer, Tesco, to request my pay be payed into the new account. When I noticed that my wages were still being payed to Abbey National, I asked my wage clerk why, and found out that she had not been contacted by A&L at all. I had to give the new account details in myself.The current account is not as easily serviced as they make out. Many banks promote their internet banking and telephone facility as being convenient, but their branch facilities are normally good too. With Alliance however, there's not much you CAN do at the branch. Balance enquiries must be done by telephone. You can ask at the counter if the cashier can give you a balance (which IS physically possible, but they will ask you to use the branch telephone). You may not withdraw more than £500 at the counter, and you may only withdraw from the counter if you are taking out less than £500, and more than £300. If you want less than £300, you have to use the ATM. They will unwillingly make a withdrawal for you at the counter under the £300 limit if you are awaiting a new PIN/card only.
I was very dissapointed with the service, or lack of service should I say.I will not comment on interest rates which are good, as they change so often and I would not like to give out the wrong information.
Credit Card:I have had an Alliance Mastercard for a long time before I opened my current account. I do not like a bank's credit card if it is run by MBNA Europe Bank Ltd, which Alliance's credit cards are.
It might seem lazy of me, but when you pay your bill by cheque, they like to be awkward and write your card numer on the payee lime as well as MBNA EBL and state your name and adress on the back. It takes no real effort but its just one of those niggling little things that I begrudge doing.They also started charging me interest while I was still on my 0% interest on purchases period. Although this was quickly resolved without argument- over the phone of course!
I was charged for a late payment after they had returned a cheque I had sent in the post, as it was dated incorrectly. After looking at the cheque they returned, I realised it was not dated wrong at all and sent it back to them with a letter explaining. I hasd them reverse the charge, but this late fee was of course reflected in my Experian report.These ar the only products I have had from this bank. I would not get any more with them after these experiences. But the next 'clash' I had with Alliance & Leicester takes the biscuit.
~Quality of Service~I payed a visit to a branch of this bank in Chester City Centre.
I had no telephone banking pass-codes (as I never received any) I did not, at the time, know my internet banking codes. I also did not have a PIN number for my card, as I had simply forgotten it after reverting back to the use of my Abbey account.I enquired about the balance of my account with a member of staff on the customer service desk. I was not greeted with any welcoming smile, or a 'hello'. She just looked at me. She was red-faced and looked stressed. Although god knows why, it was like a morgue in there. ''No'' she snapped, ''we don't do that in ere', you need to use that phone over there''. I explained I had no passcodes, no PIN Number and no other means of finding out my balance. ''Have you got your card or cheque book?'' she asked with a sigh. Yes, I said. Well you have your account number on that, they will ask you a few questions''.
So I just got back in the queue with my friend who was paying in cash. There was an old woman being served by the 1 cashier who was serving. That's all that was in the queue, just her, and us. Next thing you know, the woman off the customer service desk flies over, physically pushes my friend back by about a metre and said ''this woman is VERY OLD.....and these days you just don't know if young lads like you are going to bop someone on the head and mug them''.Well, I was FUMING big style. God knows how the old woman felt being branded loudly as Very Old! My friend said there should be a line on the floor explaining that you might want to stand away from the person being served, for safety purposes. ''There's a sign'' we heard. The cashier had actually bothered to lift her head, raise her arm and point to an ill-placed tacky sign, printed on a peice of up-side-down A&L headed A4 paper, Sellotaped to the wall.
We didn't bother any more, we just thought we'd had enough. The service we received that day was absolutely abismal, and we were disgusted. We didn't bother complaining.What we actually did was walk across to the Halifax (where I'd held an account after working for them for a while) and my friend then switched his account to them, giving him a much better rate of interest and £100 for switching.
That was my experience in the Chester branch. Staff at my local branch in Liverpool City Centre have been very polite, although useless due to limitations on services available imposed on them corporately. It's not their fault.~Branch Locations~
You're lucky to find a branch on your local high-street. Most Alliance branches are city-centre based. However they do offer telephone based banking and internet banking, and you can pay in at you local Post Office (not that there'll be many of them soon either!).Well I hope I have warned most of you of the sheer inefficiency and the lack of easy banking with this company. Hehehehe.
In my experience, Halifax is a much better bank (and no, I'm not just saying that because of the brief employment I had with them) and the Abbey is also a much better bank.However do not be put off switching banks, you should always get a better deal in every aspect of finance if you can. The big four banks should give you a good interest rate, especially as they are the biggest banks, but, disgracefully, they generally offer some of the poorest credit interest rates on the market, and some of the highest interest rates on borrowing.
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