Back in 2010 I invested in a Smart Saver Account with the Cooperative Bank. The account was at a fixed rate of interest for two years and all went swimmingly well – well, as well as any cash investment could given the ever more pathetic interest rates in operation at the time. Duly, in May 2012, the account matured. I closed the account and got all my dosh out.
A year later I was a little surprised to receive a statement for what I thought was now a closed account. The statement appeared to be telling me that the account still existed and contained a balance of £0.54. Yes, you read that correctly, 54 pence. I more or less forgot about it, i.e. ignored it.
Yet another year on, I have recently received yet another statement which still shows my 54 pence. I assume this is one of those small interest amounts caused by some time lapse between paying out my dosh and “closing” the account.
Just to tidy things up, today I thought I should close the account properly and tell them to stuff the money, all 54 pence of it (!), into a charity box, if they could do such a thing. Who was I kidding?
I called their telephone banking number, 08457 212212. After a protracted series of automated menu number selections I finally got to speak to a warm body. The warm body told me … are you ready for this? …
There’s not enough security on this account for me to do anything with it over the phone, you’ll have to go to a branch.
What the ****? I’ve never been into any Cooperative Bank branch; the account was opened over the phone, albeit on the direct phone number of the Luton Branch. Let’s face it, had I had to present myself at the Luton branch, I’d never have opened the account at all.
Ignoring for a moment the fact that my phone call may have cost me money, I would now have to drive to either Luton or to Aylesbury (the nearest branch) to see another warm body. Aylesbury is about 12 miles away so a round trip would cost me at least 2.5 litres of fuel, over £3. Even a stamp to do something in writing exceeds the balance of the account.
In complete exasperation, I told Mr. Warmbody that I might as well just let it sit there ‘cos it would cost me more to do anything with it. He was happy with that.
Little wonder that the Cooperative Bank ended up in trouble with nonsense such as this and no wonder bloody bankers in general have a bad name.