Worst Company In Britain - Virgin Money v Barclays

26 November 2009

worst 2009 Hello to you and you and you and you! On the back of the bank charges farce (and let’s face it, it IS a farce) we’re pitting two financial institutions against each other in today’s brow-to-brow face-off in our Worst Company In Britain 2009 marathon.

In the git corner is Virgin Money – providers of mortgages, insurance, credit cards and heartache. In the shit corner is Barclays – providers of all of the above and more… and free bookies’ pens too.

You mission, should you choose to accept it, is to tell us which of the grim pair makes you want to sick up your dinner more than the other one. You’ve got until midnight, so take your time.

You can catch up with the result of yesterday’s clash between the Royal Bank Of Scotland and Royal Mail here. You can find a picture of a giant toy giraffe outside a Travelodge here.

TOPICS:   High Street News   Banking


  • thebawp
    As a customer of both, I feel pretty qualified to vote this time. I've been unfortunate enough to have my Virgin credit card and my Barclays debit card used for fraudulent purposes in the last 12 months. In Virgin's case, they blocked the account even before I had realised what was going on, and a phone call confirmed that they were investigating potential fraud. They were brilliant, provided me with a fraud line number which would get me through to my own investigator, were very helpful and had me a new card sorted in days. The other account was frozen and the purchases written off at no cost to myself and I was able to access it even when it was closed to monitor the status. It was pretty scary (big amounts of cash involved) but I thought they handled it brilliantly . Then my debit card with Barclays was compromised. I was the one that spotted it, late on a Monday night through the online services. I called Barclays (at about 11pm) who told me I had to ring back in the morning. As this was linked to my main account, I was very worried about more cash disappearing, but they just fobbed me off. I used their online facilities (which are admittedly excellent) to transfer all of my money into a joint account just in case. Got up early to ring first thing, I was kept on hold for over an hour whilst they put me through to the 'fraud' department, but no one was there to answer my call so I was told I would have to ring back later in the day. Rang whilst at work on my mobile (using a number from saynoto0870 as it would have cost me a small fortune otherwise) and was again on hold for about 40 minutes. I finally got through to someone who took my details, froze my account and told me they'd send me out a form. If I hadn't transferred my money, I would have now been unable to access my cash without going into a bank with my passport (inconvenient and very difficult considering the hours they are open). It took about 3-4 days for my card to arrive, during which time I couldn't access my account at all even to see if there had been any fraudulent transactions. I filled in and returned the form they sent, but heard nothing. The following Monday I rang again to ask about the progress of the fraud (was again on hold for about half an hour) and was told 'Yes, you will get a refund in 7-10 days'. So I can't complain that I didn't get my money back, but it would have been nice for a) a number to someone who was dealing with my case or b) for them to at least let me know what was going on. The amount of time I was on hold was absolutely ridiculous, particularly as it was concerning my own bank account and to be honest their 'fraud' department seemed to have no purpose other than to issue a form, in which case, why could this not be done via their normal call centre? Anyway, suffice to say, all of my online purchases are now done with my Virgin card, I only use my debit card in shops where I can see it at all times. I simply do not feel confident that I wouldn't have to go through the same performance should my account be compromised again. I was given no advice or help from Barclays on how to stop this from happening, or even any indication as to how my details might have been obtained (unlike Virgin who were a lot more helpful generally). I'd also like to say that I think the Virgin credit card is one of the best on the market, they are constantly offering decent promotions like 0% on balance transfers or purchases - I have a Barclays credit card which I've had for about 8 years (which I got when Barclays wouldn't upgrade my debit card from a visa electron to a normal visa, but they WOULD give me a credit card?!) which I barely use.
  • Dave
    I also feel qualified to comment having experienced both sides. Virgin Money - Had the credit card after taking advantage of the decent balance transfer offer. Called to cancel the card when I paid off the full balance and had the snottiest, rude customer service agent I have ever spoken to. They failed to cancel the card and continued to send me statements, after calling several times again to cancel it. Barclays - My father recently passed away and he had a Barclaycard, which if he ever used he paid off the balance in full straightaway (very stringent with cash was my old man). Now when it came to putting a temporary freeze on the account until we could go into a branch with the death cert to close the account (along with 3 items of ID of my own by the way!) we was told we couldn't and they did everything in their power to fob us off with excuses. Co-op bank by the way - best of the bunch I've dealt with...
  • Pizza_D_Action
    @ thebawp - i'm off work next week, do you mind if I wait until then to read your post? :)
  • MrRobin
    Barclay(card) facilitated a refund for me when an ebay purchase went bad and neither ebay or Paypal wanted to know. For that reason, my estimates of Barclays are rather high right now.
  • Simon
    If I thought any other bank was any better than Barclays, i'd move my personal and business accounts in a shot. Unfortunately, I can't see any greener grass, or even any slightly less brown grass... better the devil you know. They're still rubbish tho.
  • james d.
    I feel this one is unfair, I agree Barclaycard are terrible but Barclays are actually pretty good. People will be voting barclays as the worst when it is actually barclaycard they have issue with. They are in fact to separate entities.
  • BingoB
    Disagree with you James, I was a Barclays customer for 14 years, earning rubbish interest from them for average at best service. I stopped using my account for a few months during a split with an ex, during this time i was in my agreed overdraft limit, they proceed to threaten me with legal action both in letter and over the phone unless i paid the overdraft within days. Despite the fact it was i was well in my agreed limit and had literally over the last 14 years had tens of thousands go in and out and had savings with them. Never ever will I use them again for any product! Swapping my back accounts to Alliance and Leicester was a great decision that also netted me £100.
  • Late
    Have had no dealings with Virgin Money, but I have with Barclays. Never again, though. During a particularly unpleasant summer about 14 years back my twin daughters became seriously ill (one died, the other was in various hospitals for operations etc. for about 8 months), and I lost my job. Despite the payment protection insurance I'd been paying I was told I wasn't covered, and I ended up with a CCJ. Partly my fault for not fighting my corner as well as I should have - but I was preoccupied and pretty much living in a succession of hospitals. Perhaps all banks would've screwed me over while I was in such a position, perhaps not. Either way, I detest the twats at Barclays more than any other company on the planet.
  • Pizza_D_Action
    @ BingoB - "earning rubbish interest from them" Playing devils advocate here as I feel no need to berate or defend Barclays.... but every bank has accounts that earn rubbish interest, thats how they make profit (that and bank charges *ahem*) I have a Barclays regular saver - I whack £100 a month in every month for a year and get 6% interest.... the best ISA currently pays about 3% so even after tax with Barclays I still get better interest amounts than by saving in a tax free ISA.
  • Duaine D.
    I've no experience of either. Hope this helps
  • dunfyboy
    Nothing against either company but had probs with Virgin Mobile years ago and it's made me bitter, twisted and resentful of the whole of Virgin. Once you're on the shit list, you don't come off. You owe me £40 Branson!
  • thebawp
    @ Pizza_D_Action - by all means, it ended up a good deal longer than I had intended... :p
  • Steve
    Actually just got some travel insurance from Virgin and it is pretty cheap an the person on the phone was good to deal with. Never had a creidt card though - asking for trouble!
  • Mark
    Just had a letter from Virgin Money refusing to pay out on travel insurance. Missed flight because train to airport hit someone committing suicide. They won't pay out because a suicide isn't an accident (or mechnical failure, poor weather conditions or strokie). Thanks for nothing - AVOID!!!

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