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After fifty years banking with Barclays, I find some of the changes that have now taken place so unexpected that I am wondering whether I might find a service more typical of the Barclays I remember elsewhere. Before taking this step I felt I’d like to write to you for your advice.
From that day long ago when my father took me in to the Leominster Barclays to open my first account, and for the first four decades after that, my memories of an efficient, friendly service at Leominster Barclays could not be happier.
Like all writers I get paid in lump sums at varying intervals. Sometimes the intervals last longer than one would wish and this has been the point at which I would telephone or visit my ever friendly bank manager and ask for an overdraft of a thousand or two to tide me over. Sometimes he’d ask to see my contract to check out that the money was indeed just over the horizon, usually he would dispense with this formality and take my word for it. I also remember on occasion telephoning from Spain, and on one occasion from Mexico, for an overdraft to tide me over tricky foreign situations.
So far, very good. Over the last ten years, however, the service at Barclays as I have experienced it has changed to the point that it bears little relationship to that friendly and efficient service.
Where in the Barclays heyday there was one efficient person who knew his clients and was able to make a quick decision, my experience of that same situation now is of;
I recently received a letter explaining that my overdraft now stood at two million pounds. On my querying this, it was explained that the bank’s computer had inadvertently printed an account number in place of my overdraft.
The processing of a simple request for an overdraft to tide me over till a forthcoming lump sum is paid seems now to involve up to four people; two sitting behind desks in Leominster, another two on telephones in Hereford, and a filling in of impersonal forms similar, I believe, to those used by high street money lenders. I have even received one letter with no signature but merely signed ‘Barclays Bank’. To the client it appears that no single person is now able to make a decision, but that the decision is made by others, who one never meets.
On another occasion a sensible suggestion as to how I might arrange a loan, by someone in a managerial position, was then passed to another person who seemed unaware of the first suggestion and made a series of quite unsuitable suggestions himself which he began to implement. It took months to unscramble this and get back to the original suggestion.
Impersonality and Lack of Knowledge of the Client or the Area
No single one of the people I have met or talked to recently appears to have any knowledge of the client apart from the scanty information that comes up on their computer screen. Nor do they appear to wish to get to know their clients better, so that at each visit the client has to sit through the same series of questions.
Failure to Listen, Resulting in Inappropriate Response
My request has nearly always been the same - for an overdraft to tide me over till an impending lump sum is paid in. While appearing to listen to this request, staff appear not to actually absorb it as the surprising response has usually been to ask me to fill in a form which asks for details of income and outlets, but has no space for impending lump sums! It is therefore quite inappropriate to the request being made and represents a great waste of time for client and staff.
I could continue this list of what appears to me the ineptitude, impersonality, time-wasting inefficiency of response I now receive, but hope I have mentioned enough to demonstrate how much the Barclays service seems to me to have changed.
My situation remains very similar to what it has been over most of the last fifty years - I have sums of money coming in at irregular intervals and sometimes need to request an overdraft of a thousand or two to tide me over.
My question, on which I would be grateful for your advice, is; Is Barclays still able to respond to this request in the efficient and courteous way I have grown used to through four decades; or is that perhaps a service no longer available at Barclays?
I look forward to your response.
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