oday I chewed the last straw. I went very eagerly and quickly to ‘my’ bank, having received an outrageous commission-related invoice (which the bank later cancelled). What a waste of time.
I am still with banks only because of hidden taxes like inflation; I wouldn’t bother otherwise. The financial circumstances imposed by the banks-funded state/government force almost everyone to become a customer of the big banking cartel, where choice is superficial and scarce (different flavour of the same pile of something). I can’t speak about other banks, but NatWest I just know well enough. Eagerly I went as I was close to closing my account, for all sorts of reasons I wrote about before.
The pain of moving standing orders, direct debit, ISA, all sorts of paperwork and a different kind of site, addresses, etc. is a very big pain. Aggregating it all may add up to entire days of a person’s life. It’s one heck of a project moving banks. But principles matter.
I raised all of my concerns with a consultant who sat there before me, speaking to my wife and I. She was losing the arguments all along and while she wouldn’t acknowledge that she agreed with me some of the time (agreeing with me would betray her employer and put her job in jeopardy), her face spoke volumes.
Among the topics discussed were privacy violations (not valuing customers, except as products) the bank’s devaluation of workers, and of course the bank’s huge risk-taking. Later today I spoke to a longtime friend who also had complaints about NatWest and he has just taken 50,000 pounds out of there. He closed his account, so it’s clear that I am not alone.
Dealing with the topics in turn, the bank realises that sending/selling financial details of customers to another country/ies is embarrassing and potentially illegal. Even domestic data-sharing such as this is dubious and very offensive to customers. It depends on the country.
Regarding workers, bogus claims and illogical arguments are used to dodge the reality that tellers are replaced by machines and those who insist of speaking to people will have fewer tellers available to serve them over time (longer queues or no tellers at all). Banks are becoming rich people’s gambling machines which they make accessible to poor people only via monitors. This time, unlike in previous visits to the bank, it seemed like the consultant actually absorbed the idea that redundancy might be around the corner. She said that they merely moved people from the back room to the front desk, but surely this is hogwash. The bank is lining up people for the next round of layoffs (or “cost savings” as they euphemistically call it).
The last point is the most important one; I confronted or at least questioned the marketing pitch which says they give a mortgage to nine out of ten applicants, essentially throwing away savers’ money under the assumption of stable house prices and stable employment. The consultant admitted that the bank almost went bankrupt 5 years ago; I told her that it did, but taxpayers including myself (through national debt) paid to prevent this. She said they had become more strict, but this contradicts the mortgage marketing. She said the chief of the bank was changed as if that in its own right means much. My wife was especially amused by that. She also said the bank was profitable last year, ignoring the fact that it cannot be measured based on years of recovery rather than a slump. What happens when the balance sheet changes and people cannot keep up with payments, let alone default?
Citing Cyprus, I asked about assurances. The consultant said that assurances for up to 85,000 pounds are provided per person, but she admitted (upon being challenged) that these rules have been changed over time and can still be changed. A seemingly independent (but connected to banks) entity is responsible for this. She wrote down an address for me to check out. She said it would be wise to save in another bank for sums higher than that. Ain’t that reassuring? NatWest saying it may be unsafe to save there….
The bottom line is this: NatWest screwed a saver like my friend by not properly informing him about terms; he quit them as a high-sum saver. NatWest has not much confidence that it can secure savings when there is a run on that bank. It even points to other banks. As for mortgages, it just gives them to anyone more or less; the consultant nodded when I said they can lend out around 10 times what they actually have and small players cannot do this (it would be called a Ponzi scheme or something). When a bank sells out its customers and staff and is giving mortgages so tactlessly you just know it’s waiting to burst. Don’t put a penny in NatWest.