Unhelpful Banking

So Natwest’s slogan is “helpful banking”… hmmmm

We are a relatively new, relatively small business and having made the decision to form a Limited company, appoint directors and all that jazz we then went in search of a bank account. Having been brushed off by one bank (apparently they’re the world’s local bank) and deluged with brochures by another we settled on Natwest for three reasons – they have a branch locally, the lady was very friendly and opened with “we offer two years free banking”.

Having then answered a myriad of questions online, we were sent a handy 19 page form, a handy 7 page form and three declarations to print and sign and deliver to the branch along with some documentation including 6 months personal bank statements from each director. This bit we don’t understand. We’ve not asked for credit, an overdraft, a credit card or even a debit card so why would a business bank account need to see sight of personal bank statements? Riddle unanswered the necessary documents were delivered and copied to a very helpful chap working in the branch who for the purpose of this blog we’ll call Stephen. This was 4 days before Christmas.

Stephen explained that the new accounts team were not working over Christmas (apparently the bank holidays weren’t enough for them!!) and that it may take a little longer than normal. He went on to say that we would be notified when the account was opened but the branch check the new account report every morning and would call when they saw it on the report. This seemed logical and we continued with our planned boozing Christmas shopping.

When we reached the second week of January with no news, we popped into the branch to be told Stephen was in a meeting and would call later. No call came…

On Monday of this week (Jan 23rd) we again went into the branch to find the manager, who we’ll call Andrew, sat on the enquiries desk. We enquired. He went to look for Stephen who was out. He check the report – nothing. He told us that he would contact the new accounts team (apparently they are back at work) and chase this up and irrespective of the outcome he would call to update us on the situation. He hasn’t…

A lot of focus is given in various sectors to customer engagement and we must admit that everyone who has dealt with us from Natwest has been very friendly and helpful but they have not delivered. We would have happily had someone rude and charmless if we had an open bank account right now. Maybe they need to think carefully about the definition of helpful?

Now we understanding the world is going to hell by Fedex and that various economies are on the brink of collapse and one of the ideas for saving the world is encouraging small business growth but as an idea would it be possible to let one small business actually open an account so we can collect the revenues we have earned?

Helpful indeed….


Tuesday Jan 31st (original blog was published late on Friday Jan 27th)

So following a prompt response from the Natwest Twitter team (to whom we’d directed the blog late on Friday) on Monday morning and some shenanigans (mainly caused by us) swapping contact details we have just spoken to the Local CEO who is apparently “on this” and will come back to us tomorrow morning. We think she’s quite cross with ‘Stephen’ & ‘Andrew’.

Will update with further progress… (and thanks to KH on the Natwest Twitter team!!)

Updates 2 & 3

So following a call from the Local CEO (as per last update) we were invited to a meeting 24 hours with the area business manager who is either naturally charming or was on charm offensive. He assured us with a few signatures and another copy of all the documentation that ‘Stephen’ had already copied and subsequently lost that he would have an account open by Tuesday afternoon at the latest. We did ask the question “when we receive the account number will that mean it’s ready to go and can receive funds” and assurances were given that it could. He assured us that NatWest had “had the drains up on this and it’s gone quite high up the chain”.

A day ahead of schedule (today) Monday Feb 6th, we received a call saying he had made a mistake on one of the forms and there could be a delay… Teeth were ground but we thanked him for the communication. Then amazement of amazements just a few hours later another call with yes….believe it or not….an account number and sort code. We were excited to say the least and with the haste of those thirsting for payment despatched our new details to 3 clients to sit back and wait for the money to roll in…

Fortunately we have good client relationships because one of them came back to us with this:

“The beneficiary bank has advised that they are unable to accept this payment as the sort code/account number combination is incorrect. Please contact the person you are paying to confirm the account details. (H69)”

We e-mailed said charmer to be told:

“Our system is not real time & whilst we can allocate account numbers today, details for the receipt of automated payments only update overnight. Client will be able to credit account tomorrow”

We wait with baited breath….and still no funds. We’ll leave you with two questions:

1. Where are the copies of all of our personal details and personal statements that have been “lost”? [Can anyone spell data protection?]

2. If this was an airline we’d be getting airmiles, a hotel and we’d be comp’d dinner or a free night…. what can we ask a bank for? Because we WANT something!

Update 4 (Final)

So last week we received the following text message from NatWest:

and this morning, thanks to our very patient and persistent clients we received some money. This post is now over and we can focus on doing what we actually need to do. Thanks to everyone who read, got involved, commented or helped within NatWest and just one final question: where’s the follow up on our personal information that you lost??


4 thoughts on “Unhelpful Banking

  1. I don’t get this. I bank with the world’s local bank and they set everything up for me with the minimum of fuss. Yeah – even a trouble maker like me can get a company bank account 😉

    Seriously – this sucks. Your prospective bank is paying the CEO nigh on £1m in shares and you can’t even get an account opened. Not good enough.

  2. So – you get all tweety and the bank gets in touch. And the CEO waives his bonus too. Maaaaan – you is influential. Nice work! Most importantly I hope they stop goofing around and open you a nice shiny account – maybe with some extras for all the inconvenience huh?

    • Well Doug it’s early days yet. The regional CEO has been in touch and sounded credible at sorting this out but the proof of the pudding etc

      As for what we get for this inconvenience…watch this space 😉

  3. I’m getting déjà vu. Same bank. Same branch. Same issue. The culprit in my case was called “Richard” though.


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