Yesterday I needed to visit branches of two major banks (in the same town), but as it was already 4pm I needed to check what time they both closed. Went to Bank A website, menu, branch finder, searched by town name, clicked on the branch and got the times, all in 20 seconds including loading the website to start with.
Went to bank B website, help, branch locator, entered town name. “0 branches in this town”. So I tried the county name. Only two branches in the entire county, apparently, both in the same town (not the one I wanted). Tried another town in that county - it correctly found two branches. But it doesn’t actually have the opening times. Seriously, what is the point of that? You can’t phone up individual branches nowadays, so the first thing you want to know, after the simple fact of their existence, is “when are they open?”
So I had to just go on the off-chance. Luckily they were actually still open, otherwise I’d have wasted quite a lot of diesel and parking fee.
Last night I complained to Bank B, via non-secure, not logged in, online web form. Having filled in my name and address (but no account details requested) on a form headed “Complaints”, the only box available for me to explain matters was headed “Your Question”. So I filled it in anyway, told them I didn’t understand why the box was headed “Your Question” when I didn’t have a question, I had a complaint, and then explained the problem and told them their branch finder was totally useless.
This morning I got a phone call from a young man who wanted to go through security questions before he would discuss the matter. I refused. I said as he would know from my complaint, all I’d been trying to do was find out the branch opening times and I didn’t consider that discussion of such matters warranted full banking security. He said he was just following procedures and couldn’t go any further until I had verified my identity. I refused again and reminded him that I wasn’t trying to access my account or anything confidential, I hadn’t even logged on to the website, and that in fact the problem could have been found by someone who wasn’t even a customer. I asked what he would do if the complaint were from someone who didn’t have an account and he said that he would verify the identity of the non-account-holder. He didn't sound as if he had a brain, only a script, so I didn't bother asking how he would do that.
I wouldn't have minded if he'd just asked my name, to confirm he was talking to the person who made the complaint, but no, he completely refused to discuss the bank’s publicly-available website with me until I proved
who I was. I continued to refuse to go through full banking security in order to be told why their branch finder doesn’t know my local branch exists, so he said they would send me a “written response” (whatever happened to letters?) instead.
So there you go. The reasons why their Branch Finder is such complete shit are highly confidential and can only be discussed with people who are willing to go through full banking security beforehand. Heaven forfend that such information should become public knowledge.
It all reminds me somewhat of the time I phoned Barclays, amongst others, asking them to send me leaflets for children's accounts. Encumbered as I was at the time with three children under five, I wasn't keen on slogging up and down the High Street and queueing up in every bank in turn. Most of the others were happy to send leaflets but Barclays flat-out refused. The only way I could get leaflets was to go to the branch in person. I said what about people with disabilities who couldn't get to the branch? (I have no wish to underestimate the problems of real disabilities, but there were definitely times back then when I felt that the possession of three small children and a double pushchair counted somewhere on the disability scale - can't do stairs, can't concentrate for more than ten seconds, can't walk at more than 0.5 miles per hour etc). He hesitated for a moment, as though hearing in his mind the enormity of what he was about to say, and replied that they too would have to visit the branch in order to get leaflets. Even if they couldn't.
It often seems to me that banks get so tied up with their internal procedures and the way it suits them
to do things, that they forget that the whole point of their business is to gain and retain customers by providing a service to those customers, on the back of which they make money. It doesn't seem to worry Bank B in the slightest that anyone thinking of moving home or job to the town in question would not choose to bank with them, on the simple grounds that they pretend not to exist!