Advantages Online service makes managing your money easy and offset mortgages can make significant savings
Disadvantages Cumbersome online facility, drawn out and error prone application procedures and poor customer service
We took out an offset mortgage with IF on the advice of our financial advisor. As my wife and I are self employed we often have money in our accounts waiting for our twice yearly tax bills. It made a lot of sense for us to offset the mortgage against these savings.Setting up the mortgage with IF was fraught with difficulties. We had to resend proof of identity documentation, which didn't inspire confidence. It took excessive periods of time between sending documentation and achieving any progress.
The online banking was very difficult to get up and running in contrast to other online accounts I have used. I appreciate the need for security, but then so do other major online banks that I have experience with (FIrst Direct and Egg) and I have never come across such a convoluted processes in setting up the IF account.Now we have everything set up, the mortgage works quite well for us, mainly because we save so much in interest by offsetting the mortgage against our savings for tax.
We have just applied for another mortgage through IF. I made the mistake of assuming that we wouldn't have the same problems this time as we already have an account with them.We experience similar problems in setting up the new account with failure to accurately report problems with documentation leading to long delays in the application proceedure. At one stage this caused so much delay it put us in danger of losing the property we were going to buy.
We were unhappy with the amount we were being charged for a Home Buyers Survey. IF force you to use their approved surveyors for this purpose, so you have to accept their fees, which are certainly not competitive. The most annoying thing about this whole episode though was not their excessive fees. It was their attitude to our complaints and general indifference to our dissatisfaction.The telephone staff dealing with the queries recurrently had the same indifferent reaction, 'thats just the way it is, there is nothing we can do about it.' This cumulated in actually being told on one occassion that there was no point in making a complaint because it would not change anything!
I did eventually speak to someone in customer services who did show a reasonable degree of concern about some aspects of the way we had been treated. However, my feeling is that whatever customer training IF telephone operators receives, it must be woefully inadequate.I should finish this review before it deteriorates in to a rant about how banks make so much profit from us and offer so little in terms of customer service. Overall, having our mortgage with IF on an offset basis has saved us a lot of money. However the indifferent attitude of their telephone operators, and the convoluted error prone set up process has left us frustrated, and at times, exasperated. As soon as our current discount term runs out we will be looking for an alternative provider, and even if IF offered us considerably cheaper terms I would not grace them with my business again unless I saw evidence of a considerable change in attitude of their staff.
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