I thought it would be worth writing about bank errors and how to seek redress in light of a chance conversation with a friend.

A friend of mine had a bad experience involving a property purchase, which is worth writing about as it highlights issues revolving around the importance of great customer service.

This points to a blog I wrote about ‘How Not To Handle A Concern‘ which went global and viral and accounted for about 25% of all hits in January 2019.

BACKGROUND

My friend has bought a flat to let and this purchase was due to complete on a Friday. He had to visit the branch to arrange it and complete the security checks and verification due to the sums involved and arrange for the payment to be made. The payment was made, he was charged twice and it came to light afterwards that he could have avoided all costs if the payments were made in multiple smaller tranches.

He found that the payment charge had been duplicated by checking his account status online, which prompted him to ring the call centre in India to try and resolve it. As we all know, trying to remedy problems of any sort via this route is a lost cause and exacerbates the problems you are trying to resolve so he went back to the branch the following day.

I had similar problems in resolving a fraud dispute with the same bank that uses call centres in India.

ACTION

As luck would have it after being kept waiting, he was able to pick out the staff member who initiated the payment. The staff member openly admitted to making that mistake and suggested that he speaks to his solicitor to seek a refund! That lit his fuse and he responded by saying, “No, I tell you what is going to happen. You are going to refund that amount to me here and I want to speak to your Manager for f**king me about”.

RESULT

The staff member went to speak to his Manager and came back moments later with the Manager watching over and gave a grovelling apology offering a refund of all bank charges and £20 as a goodwill gesture.

People make mistakes and it’s usually accepted with grace by those on the receiving end if those that make a mistake acknowledge and accept it, offer a sincere apology and rectify it. However, to expect a customer to approach their solicitor to try and get the excess fees reimbursed for bank errors is taking liberties and as my friend said at the time to this staff member, “I’m not running around for your stupidity”.

This is what is known in the trade as a ‘Service Failure’ and Banks generally have an allowance of up to £50 for goodwill gestures to remedy bank errors, although this can stretch to £100 for clear regulatory breaches particularly involving Data Protection matters.

There’s a lesson to be learnt here and that is to stand your ground and hold the staff member to account, escalate it, get the issue resolved with an apology and compensation for the inconvenience.

Likewise, this staff member ought to have known better and whilst he acknowledged that he had made a mistake, he should have offered to put it right and offer an apology and a goodwill payment without being forced to.

We are talking about a long-standing customer who has held a six figure sum on deposit for quite some time, and it’s easier to retain an existing customer than to try and get a new customer. In an era where everything is much the same, customer service is the only variable and that can make or break a firm in the long run.

Whilst this has been remedied, the experience has left a sour taste in his mouth and bad experiences travel much faster than good experiences by word of mouth and social media.

Have you had similar experiences? if so, what was the outcome?

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