Dear Barclays Bank, its official; we're through. It's taken just one week to turn me from a lifelong loyal customer and advocate of your business to this sorry state of affairs, which even in these times of financial incompetence and mismanagement must be something of a record.
It all started a week ago when I received notice that you were going to change the way you manage people's overdrafts. Your glossy marketing material promised me "new, simpler overdraft charges and helpful ways to avoid fees". It sounded so promising, right up to the point when I sat down with a calculator and started to work out what this would mean in practice.
After a few minutes scribbling, checking and then re checking, the number that I arrived at was a 600% rise in charges. Surely this couldn't be right? I double checked again and got the same answer. So I picked up the phone and spoke to the lovely Kirsty at your call centre, and this is when it all started to go wrong.
Kirsty assured me that these changes were correct and were coming into force in June. She also re checked my maths and confirmed that this was a 600% rise. Like any professional she stuck to the corporate line and told me that she personally could do nothing about this, so I asked to speak to someone more senior to escalate the issue, after all you simply don't treat lifelong loyal customers this way, do you?
After a brief time on hold she returned to advise me that there was no one to escalate it to. Not now, not ever. No escalation process was in place and there was no complaint mechanism. She did however tell me that she could record my dissatisfaction but that it would form part of aggregated data and no one from the bank would contact me about it; ever.
I was gobsmacked. I asked her if, in simple terms, this was 'like it or lump it' and she reluctantly agreed that it was. So I did what any of you would have done, I wrote to Antony Jenkins the CEO. Three days later Iain rang me from the CEO's office to discuss my letter but with the same result.
He told me the FCA had forced them to this position to stop people using overdrafts as short term borrowing facilities. The bank had changed policy, there was nothing he could do and they were not prepared to change, amend or waive any part of this new policy for me. I pointed out that it would now be cheaper for me to use a payday lender than their facility and that surely wouldn't be the aim of the FCA but to no avail. It was still like it or lump it.
So last night when I arrived home from work and found the 'canned response' letter waiting on the doormat I set the change process in motion and after thirty two years as a customer I'm furious.
In that period I've had not only my bank accounts but all my savings with you. You have been able to cross sell me your mortgage products, investment products, insurance and even for a couple of brief heady years in the nineties I was a Platinum customer. All that is now gone and gone forever.
Don't you know it costs six times more to get a new customer than it does to keep an existing one? Don't you know that a satisfied customer will tell two people but a dissatisfied customer will tell at least ten? Can you not get your head around that fact that you will spend more trying to remarket to me as a lapsed customer than it would have cost you to put this right?
The irony of all this is that in the end it came down to £100. That was all it was. Fees moved from £20 a year to £120 a year and you refused to listen when I said it was unreasonable. But this diatribe is not about the money, it's about your behaviour.
You removed the right of ordinary account holders to question your policies. You have refused to even listen. You have removed all flexibility from your system and in the end you have removed me as a customer. You are failing thousands of honest, hard working and financially prudent people and as they say these days, it's #barclays #fail.