Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Bloody Post Office ... and Building Societies, and Christmas!

I have always been a fan of UK's 'Building Societies' - in general - but in this case they have annoyed me!  In this day and age, wouldn't it be reasonable to expect to be able to transfer MY money from one of MY accounts to another of MY accounts quite quickly?  Within one country I think it should be more or less instantaneous, shouldn't it?

If it took a whole day that would be understandable due to bureaucracy and general banking greed, although not really acceptable.  But when it looks likely to take three weeks to get money from an instant access account into my bank's current account then that starts to annoy me.

Let me first praise my bank, First Direct, who have been unbelievably helpful in all my years with them.  They are the recipient of my frequent phone calls and their staff are unfailingly cheerful and helpful.  I can transfer my money to another person instantaneously, and without stress.

But the Building Societies seem not to have moved into the current century.  I'm trying to transfer money from two of them to my bank account for an important transaction at the end of the month, and for two different reasons this has been difficult, and at best annoying.

The first is a local company.  I have dealt with them for 26 years and on balance they have been excellent.  On requesting them to transfer money they very nicely explained that a direct transfer would cost me £25, but they could write me a cheque free of charge.  Given that the transaction is in the range of 5 figures I should have simply paid them the £25, but being an honorary Yorkshireman (wanting to save £25), I decided to post the cheque to my bank.  One week later it hasn't arrived.  How odd that the whole banking system is trying to move people away from writing cheques, and yet in this case I was encouraged to use one.

At this point the Post Office takes a lot of the blame.  Even considering that this is a busy time of year due to some sort of semi-religious festivals, one week is much too long for first class mail.  I could have delivered it by hand in less than three hours and for only £50 worth of fuel!  Christmas/Honecker mail is a nightmare for anyone who needs the mail service for something that is important and urgent.  It is clogged up by unimportant non-urgent Christmas nonsense!

But the Chelsea Building Society deserves special mention.  On (eventual) receipt of a clear first-class letter  (thanks again to the Post Office) requesting that they transfer the contents of one of their accounts to First Direct, with the address, sort code and account number clearly defined, they took it into their own minds to send a cheque.  No, not to the clearly defined bank, but to my own address.  I guess that will take a week.  [Small edit - it arrived in two days after all, but now needs to survive the post to my bank]  And then Christmas holidays and another week to get the cheque to the bank and then four working days to clear the cheque . . .

I want to scream!!!  Actually I have screamed at them, albeit in writing.  I expect that they will treat this request with the same contempt as the last one.

So I will just mention the Chelsea Building Society again.  This is a company that paid good interest on an account for many years, and then suddenly dropped the interest to virtually nothing without telling the account holder.  Companies like this deserve special mention for their services.

Meanwhile I blame myself for failing to start this process in motion a week or two earlier.  There I go again - "indulging in another bout of self-deprecation" as a friend tells me sometimes.

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