Before writing this post I planned on keeping the name of the bank anonymous, but then I looked through my previous blogposts and found that I had already named Barclays and my unhappiness with them several times. So there's not much point in anonymizing this. Just keep in mind that I may have been unlucky in my dealings with Barclays, and you may get an actual nice person who serves you properly. Personally I think that's a load of crap and they're all told to stick to their silly scripts. Anyway, here's my story.
I'm trying to get a business bank account set up before I go on holiday the next Monday. Last Wednesday I called Barclays up to inquire about a business bank account and they assured me that it would be all ready to go within 5 working days, including internet banking. It sounded great, and the guy I spoke to on the phone actually seemed like a decent guy who was quick and to the point. He set me up with an appointment for today with no hassle. He is the only person in Barclays I ever spoke to who seemed sincerely helpful. Everyone else is just out to get you to sign up for more products.
So I showed up this morning for my 'introductionary' talk. I made it quite clear right from the start that I already have an accountant and he's helping me with the finances, and that I just wanted the account set up quickly. My personal banker then proceeded to do the whole scripted conversation bullshit, asking me about my interests, my history and whatnot. He swivelled his screen to me so I could see what he was typing. And he couldn't spell for shit. Dressed in a suit, looking proper, but not able to spell words like 'maintenance' ('maintainance') or even 'developer' (devloper, spelled consistently wrong several times). That's just crap, and does not inspire confidence.
The bit about my interests and hobbies took a while, so I asked him why they needed this information. The response was that they could give me an improved personalized experience, or some other marketing bullshittiness to that tone. I thought 'whatever' and just ran with it.
- "What are your hobbies?"
- -Well, I like to cycle.
- "Ok, that's nice. Please give me something more so we can better personalize your experience. "
- - Could you explain how this will help me get a business bank account?
- - I see.
- "So please give me some more of your hobbies."
- - Hmm, I like photography
- "That's kind of generic. What kind of photography do you like?"
- - fuck this shit
I didn't say the last bit, but at that moment I was convinced that this was not the right bank for me. I just want a goddamn bank account! Knowing that I like landscape photography is not going to help with that. Argh...
The topic changed to my business. My personal banker seemed to have a hard time understanding that I did not want Barclays' help in finding clients. I told him dozens of times already that I just wanted the bank account, and I emphasized that I find my own clients and have no trouble finding clients, but he just couldn't grasp it. I really had to hammer it in before he finally moved on.
And the next topic was the breaking point, really. I had been promised over the phone that my account plus internet banking would be ready to use within 5 business days. Now, I realize that this is quite a demanding wish, especially for a business bank account which would take more time to set up than a personal one. But Barclays had already told me it would be possible within 5 days, so when the guy I spoke to casually mentioned it would take 7 to 10 working days I had just reached my limit. I told him that's too long and told him I would decide after my holiday. He tried to keep me hooked but I ignored his attempts and left. He did not have a happy face on when I walked out the door.
So I went to HSBC. The second I walked in I was treated like a human and not like a data entry point to be taken advantage of. I asked how long it would take to set up a business bank account and they told me it can be done in one day, with internet banking working the next day, and they'll give me everything I need to access internet banking on the spot, unlike Barclays which would have to send stuff by post long after the account is activated. I'm meeting with HSBC on Wednesday. Let's see if they're as good as they promise. And even if they're not, it won't take much effort to be better than Barclays.