Santander are rubbish

A couple of months back, I made a post about Santander. This will hopefully be the last post I ever make about them.

A recap – having been a happy customer with National Girobank for most of my working life, when it got privatised and sold to Alliance & Leicester, I considered changing to another bank. However A&L didn’t actually change much about the account, and served it well, so I stayed.

In 2010, A&L were bought by Santander, and things quickly went downhill. They unilaterally discarded the long standing automatic, charge-free, overdraft I had of up to half my salary (which admittedly I hadn’t used in a long time, but was convenient to know I had). They completely screwed up my monthly money transfer into my savings, resulting in the whole balance of my chequing acount being transferred one month. Then they took their merry time about clearing the proceeds of the sale of mum’s house, even though I knew from the other party (my brother) that his bank had cleared it a week ago.

So I moved. I opened an account with the Coop, just before I went to California, in March, and got my salary paid into that. Once I was back, I authorised the Coop to transfer my direct debits across, and instruct Santander to close the account and transfer the remaining balance (at the time, 4K plus change).

Except the account closure and transfer didn’t happen. I assumed the hold up was the transfer of direct debits, and waiting for the various organisations to confirm the new instructions. But when I spoke to the Coop, they told me they had requested the transfer no less than 4 times. Each time they chased it, Santander claimed to have no record of the previous request.

So I went online, and found my Santander account was still operating. I did a manual transfer of the 4K, leaving about 20 quid in the account. Within 3 days, and with no more prompting from the Coop, the account was closed and the remaining balance transferred. I guess there was no longer an incentive to hold onto my money.

But that is not the end of the story. Today, several weeks after the account was closed, and a month and a half since the first request to close it, I check my post, and find that Santander has sent me a new Debit card, for the closed account.

As I say, completely rubbish.


  1. May 26, 2011

    Good grief!

    Santander has sent me a new Debit card, for the closed account.

    I’d be strongly tempted to see what happens when I try to use it… Just in case they’d screwed up so badly as to actually leak free money from a non-existent account!

    • chris
      May 26, 2011

      Using a card I know to be wrongly issued?

      I think that’s called fraud, so I will pass on that.

      Just spent my lunchtime, trying to inform them of their incompetance, and making sure they don’t do it again.

      Unfortunately, most banks now have systems that require you to enter your account details before talking to a human. Of course, my account details are no longer valid. I finally got to talk to a call centre drone, who listened to me for all of 30 seconds and again demanded my account number. I tried to explain it would do him no good, but he repeated that he must have my account number. So I gave it to him.

      “That account is closed” he said.

      “Yes I know,” I said, “That is why I am calling you.”

      “Well do you have another account?”


      “Well, sorry, but I can only talk to customers with valid account details” he said, and hung up on me.

      In the end I called the bank’s Fraud hotline, and explained the whole thing to them – the account closure, the new card issued to it, and the support desk’s unwillingless to listen to anything outside the remit of their on-screen checklist.

      They were not amused, and said they would get it sorted.

      • May 26, 2011

        It seems to be general among the big banks that they are *astoundingly* incompetent about basic functions, especially security.

        It really does raise the suspicion that anything not directly related to bonuses is ignored by management.

      • May 26, 2011

        This is amusing in a couple of ways. My email address at work has been changed, and I’m trying to unsubscribe with my old address, which runs into the same kind of problem: you have to have the address to tell them you don’t have the address.

        Also, “the Coop” around here means the Harvard Cooperative Society, in effect the university store. It’s pronounced as in “chicken coop.”

        • chris
          May 26, 2011

          Coop here means The Cooperative Group Limited, a large business extending into many markets – groceries, banking, insurance, funerals etc. Although a limited company, it is a genuine consumer cooperative, owned by the members, and is generally viewed as being ethical in its business.

          Over here, it’s pronounced Co-op. (In fact, googling it, I see that it is usually spelt that way too – my bad!)

      • May 26, 2011

        Using it for a balance check would surely not constitute fraud? The account was yours… and now it’s nobody’s. Checking what they’ve done with your supposedly-defunct account is fair game, I think.

        Yes, we had a whole mess of this after my mum-in-law – and every time I’ve changed banks.

        For two pins I’d go bankless, you know… though I agree, the Co-op are as good as they get, barring Triodos and so on.

        • May 28, 2011

          I’ve only heard good reports of the Co-Op bank, but there isn’t one anywhere near me. I do like their food, though — the “Cooperative Ham Sandwich” (it says it on the packet), which presumably doesn’t run away like the uncooperative ones *g*.

          • chris
            May 28, 2011

            To be honest, I didn’t realise they had a branch in Peterborough until they told me.

            The original account I had after Uni was with Girobank, which was postal banking only, although you could pay cheques in, and draw money from any post office. This account later evolved into Internet banking (I believe it was one of the first Internet banking accounts in the country). However, apart from my time with Midland while at Uni itself, I have never had a “local branch”.

            As a result, when looking for a new bank, I was looking at all the offerings for Internet banking (and Co-op is pretty good and easy to use), and didn’t think about branches at all!

            One of the other things that annoyed me about Santander was that they inherited the Girobank/Alliance & Leicester Internet Banking – which worked really well, and had excellent anti-spoofing security features – and then tried to impose their own systems on top. Which meant every time I logged on, it was asking me to install their software on my PC. Which I was not about to do.

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