JEFF PRESTRIDGE: Robots, it seems, have taken over the NatWest asylum – it is the banking equal of R2-D2 on steroids
Royal Financial institution of Scotland – proprietor of NatWest – could have received some plaudits in latest days for main the dribble of financial institution lending to small companies below the Authorities’s Coronavirus Enterprise Interruption mortgage Scheme.
However let’s not get too carried away with all of the reward. In spite of everything, it is a financial institution that primarily based on all of the proof I see is turning into more and more impersonal, a lot to the frustration of some prospects. Robots, it seems, have taken over the NatWest asylum.
Useful workers employed within the ever-shrinking department community are being quickly changed by automated ‘contact’ – normally within the type of texts.
Might the drive be with you: NatWest is the banking equal of R2-D2 on steroids
That is superb in concept – it is the best way all private banking goes – however not if the robots have no idea their left arms from their proper. NatWest is not any Starling Financial institution or First Direct, that is for certain – banks that pleasure themselves on cellular or on-line banking par excellence. It is extra the banking equal of R2-D2 on steroids.
Carole Landau, from North London, has lately been subjected to NatWest’s insensitive robots – and the expertise has left her indignant, annoyed and infrequently in tears.
Carole’s banking troubles started within the wake of the demise of her husband Lawrence in mid-February. Lawrence, a former managing director of a transport insurance coverage agency and honorary counsel within the UK for the West African nation of Benin, died aged 90 from a number of organ failure.
Having a joint NatWest checking account with Lawrence, the 81-year-old has skilled nothing however issues since his demise in finding out the account. She has repeatedly been locked out of it – with out rhyme or cause – and left on the cellphone for hours attempting to get by to buyer providers to unfreeze it and make pressing funds.
Bizarrely, she’s additionally been requested by the robots through textual content for particulars of her change of handle – que? Notice to NatWest: ‘Carole has no need in any way to maneuver residence.’
To rub salt into open wounds, she’s acquired two new bank cards with spending limits beneficiant sufficient to place down a deposit on a brand new residence if she had been so inclined (observe to NatWest: ‘Carole has no need to maneuver residence’). A brand new debit card – a higher precedence than a bank card – has but to reach though she’s banking on receiving at the least two.
‘It has been a nightmare from starting to finish,’ mentioned Carole, though given NatWest’s behaviour thus far, ‘finish’ might be not the suitable phrase. In NatWest’s defence, it has investigated Carole’s criticism – after intervention from The Mail on Sunday – and despatched her a hamper by the use of an apology. It has accepted that Carole ‘wasted’ an excessive amount of time in attempting to contact it – and has additionally agreed to take a look at whether or not its condolence letter despatched to all bereaved prospects might be made extra ‘sympathetic and comprehensible’.
As for the texts about modifications of handle, it mentioned these had been defined within the letter – and ‘a part of our course of’. Individually, it advised me that Carole’s funds had been blocked due to ‘uncommon’ account exercise.
In fact, Carole won’t change banks as a result of at her time of life it is a query of ‘higher the satan than the satan you do not’. However she deserves so significantly better from robotic NatWest. Deliver again the non-public.
One last statement on NatWest. In latest months, I’ve acquired a gentle trickle of correspondence from prospects who out of the blue have been advised their NatWest account is being closed – along with any financial savings accounts. No rationalization for the closures is given.
On the drop of a hat – or the command of a NatWest robotic – they’re left bankless. Financially excluded. The most recent sufferer of such account closures tells me that with out the assist of his mom, he would have been left with out entry to cash at a time of nationwide disaster.
Regardless of sending the financial institution his payslips as proof of the place his revenue comes from – and spending hours on the cellphone ready for somebody to speak to – he’s none the wiser as as to whether he’ll quickly be ex-communicated.
Every time I method NatWest about these closures it refuses to remark – presumably as a result of it believes cash is being laundered. Possibly, possibly. However I am not satisfied. The robots have taken over the asylum.