Posts Tagged ‘barclays’
Our good friend Barclays Bank has just bought some new customers. Not in the same way that they (allegedly) bought the LIBOR rate, rather instead they have bought the savings and mortgage business of Dutch bank ING.
Announced last night, the deal will see £10.9 billion (€13.4bn) of savings deposits and £5.6 billion of mortgages (€6.9bn) of ING Direct UK transferred to Barclays, who will eventually integrate these businesses in its UK Retail and Business Banking division.
“ING Direct UK operated in a very competitive market over the past years and I am proud of the excellent customer experience our UK team has built, as proven by the customer satisfaction scores. In Barclays we have found a company who will continue to provide the excellent service our approximately 1.5 million ING Direct customers in the UK have grown accustomed to,” said Jan Hommen, CEO of ING, a clearly much mistaken man. In the latest FSA figures, Barclays was third in the “most customer complaints” category, with 280,358 complaints opened in the first six months of the year.
But other than a potential cliff-drop of customer service, what else does this mean for ex-ING customers? ING launched ING Direct in 2003 with market-leading online savings deals, an area Barclays don’t much bother to compete in. While ING customers are guaranteed to keep current rates on transfer, it may be that rates fall over time as the business is integrated within Barclays own offering. However, since taking over Woolwich in 2000, Barclays mortgage offerings have been increasingly competitive, in line with the old Woolwich brand, so savers may yet find Barclays end up as a more attractive provider. Examples of current comparison rates, provided by Moneysupermarket.com are shown below.
Either way, there is nothing individual account holders can do to stymie the deal, unless they also happen to be significant shareholders in either company. Account holders will migrate to the Barclays when the deal completes next year, but any change in rates should be checked to see whether the deal is still competitive. And if not,do something about it.
One other point to mention is that once ING savings come under the Barclays umbrella, it is likely the savings protection will be covered by the FSCS under Barclays licence. This will mean you only get one lots of savings protection for any accounts held with either Barclays or ING, so if you have more than £85,000 in savings, what the hell are you reading Bitterwallet for?
Times are tough. In the 12 months to June, there were 35,456 bankruptcy orders in England and Wales alone, according to the Insolvency Service. Now, it is possible (and some would argue necessary) for an undischarged bankrupt* to get hold of a bank account, although this would have to be a basic type account, with no overdraft facility, no monthly fee and limited debit card capacity. However, while basic bank accounts are normally available to all, those available to undischarged bankrupts has now narrowed to a field of one.
Previously both Barclays and the Co-operative bank allowed bankrupts to take out an account, but after much corporate soul-searching, Co-op have decided to withdraw from the market, leaving these people without a choice of bank account provider. You could argue that beggars shouldn’t be blessed in the options department, but what happens if Barclays decline to offer you an account?
In this day and age, having a bank account is tantamount to a necessity. Many employers require salaries to be paid by credit transfer, and if you are scoffing at the thought of bankrupts with a job, the new Universal credit benefits system will also require a bank account for payment.
But Co-op are defending their right to remove themselves from the market. John Hughes, managing director of retail banking at the Co-op told the BBC: “Across the industry there has long been an un-level playing field in the provision of basic bank accounts, with our bank doing far more than most, and we have been calling for some time for this to be addressed.”
And you have to feel they have a point. Co-op, even with the new branches and customers purchased from Lloyds TSB do not have a 30% share in the retail banking market, but claim that 30% of their customers have been through some kind of insolvency proceeding, representing about two-and-a-half times its “natural market share”.
Robin Taylor, the Co-op’s head of banking, told BBC News that a lot of people who were made bankrupt were already with a bank and should therefore be supported by the institution they were previously with. He also wants every major bank to take a share of the remainder.
So are (most of) the banks, Co-op included, being unfair? Surely taking on a bankrupt, particularly one who has already gone bad on you, must seem like throwing good money after bad to the banks, institutions more widely known for maximising shareholder profits than customer satisfaction. Unusually Barclays appear to be the hero of the blacklisted- is this suitable penance for their less-than-savoury shenanigans of recent times? Does anyone even care?
* a bankrupt is normally undischarged for 12 months following the bankruptcy order.
Colin Miller got his application for a Barclays personalised photo card turned down because he looks too much like Pavarotti. Or Demis Roussos. Or just about any balding tubby man with a beard.
Anyway, staff thought he didn’t own the copyright to his own face and told him to sling his large hook.
“I was shocked,” said Colin. “I can’t help who I look like. I don’t try to look like him. I have had no cosmetic surgery and I don’t try to do things to myself to look like him. I am being penalised for looking how I do.”
He doesn’t do things to himself to try and look like Pavarotti, apart from dressing up exactly like Pavarotti and getting paid to be a Pavarotti lookalike.
Anyone smell a publicity stunt by his agent at the lookalike firm? And he still looks more like Demis Roussos.
Looks as though Barclays have hastily cobbled together a new advert in which lanky mirth-giver Stephen Merchant contritely explains just what it is that their naughty, LIBOR-tampering staff members have been up to over the past few years.
Either that or it’s some trickery from online funnyman Michael Spicer…
Spotted over in That London and sandblasted on to Twitter by @lazaroumterror, take THAT Bob, Boris and all the rest of you…
You’re really upset about the LIBOR scandal aren’t you? You know what the acronym stands for and everything (London Inter-Bank Offered Rate) and you know about EURIBOR as well (work it out). While you are probably as shocked and disgusted at Barclays’ actions as we are, you are probably wondering whether the scandal currently rocking the financial world (not in a Status Quo kind of way) has actually got anything to do with the money in your pocket.
Without going into too much detail, in case you have been living under a rock, yesterday Barclays was outed as having attempted to/succeded in ‘manipulating’ the LIBOR and EURIBOR rates between 2005 and 2009. While we don’t need to go into the details of what they actually did, the brass tacks of it are that they were trying to cheat and got caught doing so.
The FSA in the UK levied its biggest ever fine on Barclays, but its measly £59.5m fine (reduced from £85m because Barclays were so helpful) pales in comparison to the US Department of Justice fine of $160m. Together with a $200m fine from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Barclays are therefore looking at coughing up over £290m in fines. Still, where the UK Retail Banking Business alone made £334m in the first 3 months of 2012 (before accounting for a £300m provision for missold PPI), you can’t expect Barclays to be overly concerned at the wrist slap.
In addition, it is claimed that Barclays were working in connection with a number of other banks across jurisdictions, and more fines and telling off can be expected soon. The Telegraph are currently running a blow by blow account of the scandal live and as it happens. In case you seriously have nothing better to do.
But what about me? Have Barclays screwed me over?
Actually, probably not. Unless you had a buy-to-let mortgage or a subprime mortgage (eg a Paragon one for low credit rated types) at the time, where your interest rate is calculated with reference to LIBOR (often expressed as LIBOR plus a percentage) your mortgage would not have been affected. Even if you did have one of these mortgages, the covert investigation suggests that Barclays were actually pushing the LIBOR rate down, thereby actually reducing your mortgage interest payments.
LIBOR (or EURIBOR) is not normally used for retail savings either, so people with ordinary savings accounts will not have suffered lower interest rates. However, large investors (like pension funds and other financial institutions) who may have invested in bundled mortgage bonds would have received a lower return, if mortgage rates were artificially depressed. Of course, these large investors are the type with deep pockets and grumpy temperaments, so Barclays et al may not yet get off scot-free. There are already murmurings of class actions to sue the bank for damages.
Are they sorry?
Of course they are. Terribly contrite. Barclays Chief Executive, Bob Diamond, said: “The events which gave rise to today’s resolutions relate to past actions which fell well short of the standards to which Barclays aspires in the conduct of its business. When we identified those issues, we took prompt action to fix them and co-operated extensively and proactively with the Authorities. Nothing is more important to me than having a strong culture at Barclays; I am sorry that some people acted in a manner not consistent with our culture and values.”
The CEO and three of his cronies have even offered to forgo their annual bonus to “reflect our collective responsibility as leaders.” Bless their cotton socks.
Still, every cloud really does have a silver lining- the money paid in FSA fines will go towards reducing next year’s bank levy charge, paid by all UK banks. Including Barclays…
Barclays may be flaring their nostrils today, aware that they’re being followed by the smell of the brown pants of trouble.
They could be looking at a situation that sees them recalling a toweringly huge number of credit and debit cards – 13 million of them. What has happened is that vulnerabilities have been found in its contactless payment system which allows NFC-enabled phones to steal your card details with a simple bump.
Security firm ViaForensics found the flaw and have said that they managed to steal card numbers, expiry dates and user names by simply tapping an NFC phone to a contactless-enabled Barclays card.
It appears that none of the data was encrypted, which means that some nefarious swine could nick your credit card details by simply bumping an NFC smartphone at your pocket. Very worrying indeed.
Barclays and Visa claim it’s not a problem with the software, because that’s how NFC payments are supposed to work, and indeed, they have said that there are safeguards to stop thieves using the stolen data. Alas, Channel 4 – who are also investigating this – have said that they were able to set up an Amazon account and use the stolen information to make purchases.
Are you a Barclays customer who has had someone bump into their pocket recently? Start worrying now.
But if we wanted to, we could do it. That’s because Barclays bank have unfurled a new app, called Pinigit, that allows their current account holders to send and receive cash using only their mobile phones. You can use it to send cash up to the aforementioned sum of £300 to anyone as long as you have their mobile number.
How doth it worketh? Simpleth – users call the recipient’s mobile number via the Pingit app, key in an amount between £1 and £300, and hit send. The money is moved between the two current accounts using the Faster Payments service taking as little as 30 seconds.
Barclays say that it will be useful in circumstances such as splitting a restaurant bill or paying for lapdances. Sorry, that should have been paying the window cleaner or other small tradesmen. Pingit is available for iPhone, Blackberry and Android-powered phones. Impressively, they say that although non-Barclays customers can only receive payments at the moment, they’ll shortly be able to send them as well, meaning that Pingit could become the standard app for this sort of thing.
Barclays are going to triple the fines received for missed payments on basic accounts. You could be looking at fines of £24 per day. This of course, could ruin the poorest customers who have these basic accounts.
Over one million customers will see these charges coming into place from March next year, being hit with three £8 charges every 24 hours if payments bounce. Basically, you’ve got ’til then to get a bank account with someone else.
Barclays are trying to justify this by claiming that they’re losing ‘a lot of money’ on basic accounts. Accounts, its worth pointing out, that were designed for customers with dicky credit ratings or low-income.
Basic account don’t have overdrafts, which is one of the ways banks like to make a profit on their customers. Barclays clearly want to make a fast-buck on these account holders, so now, if a customer’s balance drops and a direct debit or standing order fails, Barclays can hit them with an £8 penalty.
A spokesman for Barclays said: “We want to ensure this product remains financially sustainable so that we can continue to help those at risk of financial exclusion gain access to banking’
‘We also want to ensure the product continues to meet the needs of those it is designed for. The changes we are making are based on solid research of our customer base and Citizens Advice Bureau clients’.
New figures from the FSA covering the first half of this year show that Barclays received 251,563 complaints, with 53% of those being upheld. Other big-hitters in the customer dissatisfaction table include Lloyds TSB (181,907), Santander (168,888) and NatWest (147,109).
A whopping 1.76 million complaints were made to financial institutions in the first six months of 2011, which shows that they’re either grossly incompetent or that we’re quicker to cry foul when it’s our hard-earned money that’s involved.
Santander are the best at closing cases, with more complaints dealt with within eight weeks than any of their rivals, closing 98% of cases within that timeframe. This compared with 74% at Royal Bank of Scotland, 77% at Lloyds TSB, 86% at NatWest, 89% at Barclays and 90% at HSBC.
In terms of unresolved complaints that were then escalated to the Financial Ombudsman Service, the Lloyds Banking Group were top of that particularly ugly pile, suggesting (not for the first time) that Lloyds tend to play hardball with unhappy punters.
The FSA said that nearly two thirds of new complaints in the six month period were related to payment protection insurance, not surprising after the banks lost their legal challenge against PPI rules in April.
If you want to use the space below to gripe about your bank and their complaint-handling tactics, feel free. We’re listening.
Remember us telling you about Barclays getting in a bit of bother over the misselling of PPIs? Well, they’re going to refund them, ‘no questions asked’ (provided you complained before 20 April).
These payments are a “gesture of goodwill” from the bank and will be made up of all premiums paid plus interest.
With tens of thousands believed to be in line for big payouts, Barclays could be looking at forking out around £1bn.
If you’re one of those that complained, you’ll have to wait around 16 weeks before this all gets resolved. A pain in the rear perhaps, but at least you’ll be getting your money back.
In a statement about its decision to compensate existing claimants, Barclays said: “We have said before that when we get things wrong, we apologise and work hard and work fast to put them right as quickly as possible.
“Working in close co-operation with the FSA and the Financial Ombudsman Service, and in recognition of the delay customers have experienced whilst awaiting the outcome of the high court judgement, we can confirm that we are contacting customers whose complaint was put on hold on or before 20 April with an offer to settle their complaint in full as a gesture of goodwill.”
If you think you might have been mis-sold a PPI policy, then you need to complain directly to your bank. If you don’t know how, the Guardian have a nice template letter you can use.
The bank has ringfenced £1 billion as potential compensation and has said that it won’t be appealing against a court ruling decreeing that banks must redress customer complaints about PPI. Last week, Lloyds set aside £3.2 billion for the same reason.
You might have been mis-sold PPI if you have it but didn’t realise you were buying it, if you were told you had to buy it (you didn’t), or if you were sold it and it doesn’t even cover you (if you’re self-employed for example).
The British Bankers’ Association has also said that it won’t be appealing against the court ruling, meaning that more banks will be setting aside more money and compensating customers in what is quickly becoming the biggest banking scandal in recent memory.
The FSA, responsible for the protection and enhancement of the stability of the UK financial system (and we all know what a good job they’ve been doing recently) has today published a league table of the worst offenders for the number of customer complaints in the last half of 2010.
The far and away winner of the dubious prize is Barclays banking division, with a massive 205,151 complaints, which is over 25% more than the number two on the list, Santander at 165,052, and more than third and fourth place combined (Lloyds TSB and NatWest banks, with 89,811 and 87,271 complaints respectively). Lloyds TSB’s general insurance and protection division made up the last of the top five.
So why are Barclays so bad that they are generating over 1100 official complaints a day, and that’s just on their banking operation- Barclays’ general insurance and protection division came in further down the top ten.
A Barclays spokesman was at pains to point out that they were only the worst in the banking section, and that there were four other sections they could have been worse in. Furthermore, Barclays consider they are moving in the right direction as these figures actually showed a 4% improvement on the previous figures. Whoop de doo.
Barclays’ general insurance division was also worst at closing complaints, with only 65 per cent of cases dealt with in eight weeks- NatWest managed to close 98 per cent of its complaints in the same timeframe.
Antony Jenkins, chief executive of Barclays Global Retail Banking, said: “Barclays is committed to reducing the number of complaints it receives and making substantial improvements to the overall service we provide customers. Our customers can be reassured we are making progress and are taking action to address the reasons our customers complain. Customers can expect to see improvements in our service in 2011.”
While it is good to know that Barclays do not think this is good enough, and that they are, apparently taking steps to “address the root cause” of the problem, we at BitterWallet do not think that a 4% reduction in complaints, which “reflects the work they have put in to customer relations” is, quite frankly, good enough.
With the latest accounts showing a profit before tax on the UK retail banking operations alone of £989m, we think they can afford to be a bit nicer to their customers…
Bankers are the most unpopular people in Europe at the moment and every single time they announce something, it only serves to make everyone more annoyed.
And now, Barclays are the latest to stick a handful of flies in our already fly-laden ointment as they announce that they’re going to cut loads of jobs in Britain and send them to India.
The bank are cutting a further 285 jobs on top of 1,000 cuts they announced last week, shipping call-centre jobs and back office roles to India. This, of course, has sent officials at Unite into a bug-eyed anger.
Rob MacGregor, Unite national officer says: “At this time of economic uncertainty, why isn’t this UK finance company doing all it can support its workforce in the UK, not telling them their work will now be done in India. Unite will now be challenging Barclays to ensure that the bank offers redeployment opportunities for all those impacted by the decision.”
Jobs will be lost across the country in Northampton, Teesside and Merseyside. Barclaycard have stated that these roles will be offshored to India, where the bank has operations in Chennai and Mumbai.
Barclaycard said: “The proposed changes are being made as part of Barclaycard’s ongoing programme of improving day-to-day operational efficiency so that it can re-invest in continuing to deliver good value products and innovative services to its customers”.
Of course, one thing that doesn’t look like it’ll be affected is the bonuses received at the top of the Barclays pyramid. The unrelenting shithouses.