Alliance and Leicester – so incompetant, you can’t leave them…

Published on 16 June 2006 in , ,

Well it’s been over a year since my last rant about the Alliance and Leicester’s incompetence, and you may be glad that this will be the last one ever. For today the last accounts were closed.

In April last year I aborted an attempt to open a current account with them following the fact that they couldn’t even get opening the account correct. Their online service is (for my mind) the worst internet banking I’ve ever used (I even told them a huge list of usability flaws) However despite this, and for various reasons, I left my Cash Mini ISA sat with them – partly the interest rate, partly inertia.

Well recently they cut their interest rates on their Direct ISA which was enough of a reason to get me started on the process of moving away from them. The new account was set up, the transfer forms were sent in. Hurrah, I thought. Soon the account will be closed and I’ll never have to deal with them again! Break out the champagne!

Or so I thought.

See, there’s a slight problem. Alliance and Leicester won’t actually proceed with the transfer request without you – that’s you the customer – phoning up. The written request (complete with all the details) comes in from the new account, they log it in their system, then they send you a letter saying they can’t proceed. This is, apparently, because it’s a “direct product, which should be serviced on-line or by telephone”.

So instead I have to phone up.

Now this is my third cash mini ISA. They’ve all been with banks who do phone and internet banking only. I’ve had multiple current accounts over the years – with a mixture of high street and direct banks. Not one of them has ever needed me to phone up – physically phone up – to close an account when the account is closing by a transfer. Not one.

They just get the written details from the new bank, send out a “Sorry you’re going” letter and get on with it.

Goodness knows why the Alliance and Leicester are incapable of doing the same. Goodness knows why on earth I had to phone up – probably to do some pressure selling job to try and get me to stay judging on previous dealings with them (before I managed to abort my current account transfer, I’d phoned up to activate my new debit card. The pressure selling of debit card “insurance” was by far the worst I’ve ever encountered.) Indeed surely it costs them more than necessary to actually close the account, given that they have to send out letters and employ someone to answer the phone.

If there was supposed to be for pressure selling though, well it never got that far from me. Right from the start I made it abundantly clear that I was not impressed and was in no mode for anything other than getting off the phone as quickly as possible – whilst simultaneously apologising to the poor bloke on the other end of the phone who was having to listen to my annoyedness. After all, it’s not his fault his employers are incapable of setting up systems where customers can do extremely simple transactions with minimal fuss.

I guess all this might sound rather trivial – and in a way it is – but the simple fact is that when an organisation has given me nothing but trouble, I tend not to be very impressed with them. I think as a nation, we let go all manner of shoddy service go by without kicking up a fuss. Well I confess – I don’t. And to that end, Alliance and Leicester will be getting a firm letter sent to them on the matter.

As an aside, I confess to already having looked into how my new ISA provider (Bradford and Bingley) work with closing accounts. Well I won’t know until the day it comes to close the account, but certainly the impression from the website is that it can all be done online…


  • Anglesey Investor says:

    I should have read the blog before having my A&L E-Saver Account!! They have diverted my interest to some one else”s nominated account HSBC bank ( I do not have a HSBC ACCOUNT) for the last few months but refuse to admit it and keep sending reply letters which say everthing apart from acknowledging the fact – I still do not know if this is a admin cock up or some thing more sinister like fruad-Is this a common occurence with A&L wonder? Is my example the tip of a very large iceberg?

  • Fred the Plodder says:

    A&L are the most dreadful organisation in terms of trying to open an account that I have ever experienced. They wont let you open an internet account at a branch, they return as unaccepted the anti moneylaundering paperwork they request and that was approved and stamped by their own bank staff. You have to do it all again. They take well over a month to get an account open. You then have problems getting logged on. The only contact line is a premium rate number. In the meantime they keep reducing the interest rate they pay. Absolutely useless and incompetent. I’ve moved to other providers with no problems at all. I wouldn’t touch A&L again with a barge pole.

  • Robert Jenkins says:

    Alliance and Leicester are, in my opinion totally incompetent and uncaring.
    I have found that they are completely incapable of dealing with the simplest of administrative requests and have a strange resistance to admitting the truth.
    The operators are cocky and unwilling to think beyond the parrot like responses they were taught at some training session.
    I recommend First Direct. who, over five years, have given us faultless first class service and nothing is too much trouble.
    Alliance and Leicester are put to shame by First Direct.
    Robert Jenkins