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In 2003 we were buying a property for the first time and needed a mortgage. Co-op was chosen because of employment, we thought it could be an advantage if there were any issues.
Hmmm, how wrong we were.
Firstly Co-op were trying to force us to use their "approved" conveyancer, at a cost 3 times that of the people we wanted to use. Maybe this was something to do with them getting a payment for the referral?
They gave an excuse that there was only one party registered for conveyancing at the business we wanted to use, and they required it to be two people. We proved to Co-op that our people complied with their conditions.
They then said that we couldn't use them because of our conveyancers insurance not being adequate. We proved that it was adequate.
They then said that our conveyancer wasnt qualified or registered, again we proved them wrong. One excuse after another followed.
This carried on until I was speaking to the conveyancer about these problems and us both looking through their files of "you are approved by ?????? bank to conduct conveyancing, etc". I spotted a letter of approval for C.I.S. mortgages (Co-operative Insurance Services), so immediately rang Co-op Bank about this.
They again tried to worm their way out of this, even though they were merging Co-op Bank and C.I.S. into C.F.S. (Co-op Financial Services) at the time.
Finally they gave in after a lot of pressure.
We didn't want to reapply for a mortgage with someone else, as we would have lost the property due to one thing and another.
Then we come to buildings and contents insurance.
We asked Co-op to sort it with the mortgage process, to make it easier for us as they wanted proof the cover was adequate, etc.
Plus the price quoted was good.
They forgot to do it.
So we ended up with a panic to get immediate cover as soon as we found out it had been missed.
Life insurance followed a similar path with them.
If it wasn't red tape, unreasonable requests, long waits, lost letters, it was poor service from the staff.
Luckily we decided to forget them and go elsewhere, which has been the best decision we made.
We constantly get junk mail and account relating mail to our current address, my old address and my partner's old address.
It is now over 3 years later and after complaints to them approximately every 3 to 6 months about them having the correct details they are still sending mail about our accounts to our old addresses and current address.
I mean we get 3 identical statements, one sent to each address, even though when we speak or write to them they only have our current address listed!
This also happens with junk mail, which we have asked to be stopped. They told us that theyve had problems with the list of people that dont want promotional mail, and they can't get to the bottom of it, so basically expect to get junk mail.
They are breaking the Information Commissioners rules with this, but dont seem to care.
We are looking at getting a court order to force them to correct their failings.
Once we were explaining the issues of mail problems to a member of staff, and he told us that he used to have a Co-op mortgage, but he repaid it 3 years ago.
He was still receiving regular statements for his closed mortgage account!
At one point they said my partner had no security details registered with them, and had never done so. Not true.
They also ended up with my security details being replaced with my partners!
Mortgage interest increased each time the base rate went up, fair enough, but they also added on a little bit extra for good measure.
Recently we switched mortgages to First Direct. We have banked with them for ages, but were forced into Co-op current accounts, as they will not pay wages into any other banks accounts if you work for them.
Anyhoo, the switch with the fd mortgage couldnt have been simpler or more stress free.
The repayment of the mortgage with Co-op then caused problems with the house insurance.
They cancel the insurance the minute your mortgage is repaid, with no notice, which we were not aware of until we got the letter saying so on the day the mortgage was being repaid.
Even if you took the time from date of production the letter to the day of receipt it was about half the notice we should have been given.
We have terms and conditions that were sent to us in March 2006 to apply from April 2006 that state that they can cancel the policy but have to give you 7 days notice. There is nothing to say that repaying the mortgage will result in them terminating the insurance.
When you speak to Co-op they say that that term does not apply and refer you to a letter sent when the mortgage was originally taken out. They are saying this letter of 2003 is correct even though new terms and conditions have come into force since.
Even though I keep everything to do with terms and conditions of anything, I cannot find this reference they are pointing to.
They just seem to pick and choose at what they feel should apply at that time, with no regard for the actual documents they have issued.
The best and most recent event was trying to contact Co-op about the cancellation of the insurance.
I was passed from pillar to post, told to ring this number and that number
At one point I was put through to their micrographics department (when I wanted mortgages). The woman that answered the phone didnt realise I was a customer, and was quite flippant with me. I explained that I was a customer and I wanted to speak to mortgages. She then spoke to someone who was in the department with her and said "Theyve put a bl**dy customer through!" Again she spoke to me and I asked again to speak to mortgages, to which she didnt say a word, for a while.
She actually thought she had put the phone down on me because I clearly heard her say to her colleague (whilst laughing) "Well he can f**k off, Ive put the phone down on him!"
So, I ask you, is this the treatment you expect from any business, never mind one who is supposed to have "ethical policies"?
We complained to the chief exec, David Anderson, on the 8th of January about this woman's language and attitude, plus the breach of the insurance terms and conditions.
We have had 2 holding letters, but as yet (9 Feb 07) no explanation, apology, absolutely nothing. It's now 14th Feb 07 and we have received yet another holding letter saying they are "still investigating" our complaint. So, we now have 3 holding letters!
We have started using First Direct again for virtually everything now (as we left the accounts open), there is only the issue of the wages having to go directly into a Co-op account for employees.
This will change soon, as we are leaving them because of the rotten service/contact we have had as customers and their treatment of their staff.
What bliss it will be when Co-op is no more and we are completely back with fd.
Co-op, in my opinion, stinks.
They are under staffed and can't cope with the volume of enquiries. They seem to try to get their phone queues down by rushing you, being totally unfriendly, and having the attitude that they are not interested.
They are inaccurate, sloppy, lose things and don't action things as and when they should.
They make excuses about their systems, and pass the buck.
Trying to get someone to take ownership of responsibility for a rule, term or action is a joke.
In my book they are totally unprofessional, and do not deserve business.
More info added 2 May 2007-
1 day before their allowed resonse period expired, i.e. 8 weeks after our complaint about the breach of the insurance terms and the disgusting language used about me on the phone, they replied.
The letter came from the Chief Exec, David Anderson, and basically said we dont care.
He said that as he was not party to the conversation, he cannot make a judgement on what was allegedly said. In my opinion this is just fobbing us off.
He said that the person involved in the conversation was spoken to, but did not say whether or not they had been disciplined about the language used. I suspect nothing has happened.
As for the breach in the insurance terms, they do not consider that they have broken them.
Ok, so they did notify us, but to do this on the day that we repaid the mortgage and therefore unknowingly cancelled our insurance to me is under hand.
If they truely want to be co-operative then all their terms and conditions should be notified at the start, or at least a month before a change takes effect.
To produce a new term that we were never made aware of previously at the last minute is underhand and, in my view, totally unacceptable.
When it comes down to it, in my experience, the Co-operative Bank should have its name removed until it can show itself to be truely co-operative.
I do not think I have asked much to be treated fairly, with respect , and have clear and accurate information. If there are issues I think it is reasonable to expect them to be dealt with quickly and fairly.
I have never experienced anything like this before, and hope that this review can help others making an informed decision in their choice of bank.