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The basic bank account which the government is trying to persuade pensioners to take up rather than collecting pensions from the post office may be available to all without credit check - but unfortunately the Co-op Bank seems to be floundering hopelessly.
I took an elderly relative in to a branch on 3 November 2003, with all the required identification and a completed application form. The ID was photocopied and we were told that the documentation would be forwarded to the relevant department and the account would be open in about 2 weeks.
3 weeks later, we rang the new account department, to be told that the 2 weeks had become 4 weeks.
In early December we rang again - only to be told it could be up to 12 weeks before the account would be open - and that 12 weeks would be calculated from the date that the documentation was first processed at the new accounts dept (23rd November) NOT the date it was taken into the branch (3rd November) - in other words, the Bank was seriously suggesting that it would take 12 weeks Plus 20 days to open a basic account.
In early January, we received a letter (the first written acknowledgement from the bank) asking for further identification. A phone call to the relevant department confirmed that the government's rules regarding ID had changed. We were told that the account would be open within 2 weeks of the extra identification being received.
We took the ID to the branch on 5th January when it was faxed direct to the relevant department - on 20th January yet another phone call to the new account department resulted in our being told that it would "probably" be the end of February before the account was opened.
4 months to open a basic bank account for a pensioner, who has lived at the same address for 15 years and who wants the account for his state pension to be paid into. I'm sure that a proportion of the problems have been caused by the ridiculous amount of identification whch is required to open an account these days, but nevertheless, the Co-op do not come out of this story unscathed. To take highly personal information and identification from elderly people, then make no attempt to even acknowledge safe receipt of such documentation, not to mention only one contact initiated by the bank is not good customer relations.
The staff are helpful and sympathetic - a little more efficiency within the organisation would be welcome.
Utterly ridiculous, isn't it? Oh - I've always had my child benefit in cash, but after having been hassled and hassled and hassled by the powers that be, I gave them my bank account details so that it could be paid directly there. They'd written twice and telephoned once insisting I do it. Anyhow... they sent me confirmation that when I'd completed my current book, the next payment would be to my account. That was eighteen months ago, and I've had three new books since then. Nothing to do with the Co-op, I know, but really. The whole thing is silly!
patriciat 22.01.2004 20:32
As usual, the elderly become the forgotten people. Pat.t