7th July 22:00 Get home from work to discover a letter from Santander. In fact it isn't a letter at all, rather a somewhat threatening Default Notice. I won't bore you with the details, but essentially there was some talk of claiming my first born child should I fail to cough up the £310.00 that I owe them. Nearly fell over. My Alliance & Leicester account (now with Santander) has lain dormant with a zero balance for a couple of years. I have not received any correspondence (including bank statements) from them for quite some time and frankly wasn't expecting to with a zero balance. My first thought was that I must be the victim of identity theft, but then I start to wonder why I have a default notice without having received any prior notifications of charges?
8th July 09:50 Attempt to call the Santander complaints line. It rings. And it rings. Then it rings some more. Etc. No-one picks up the damn phone
09:51 Put down the (still ringing) phone and start to feel a little cross.
10:00 Call the main customer service line and have to go through a highly painful automated "press 2 if your arse is on fire" rigmarole. Eventually I realise that my only remaining options are to repeatedly club my phone on my desk in hopes of randomly hitting the magic sequence of numbers that will grant me access to a member of the customer services team, or to hit none at all and hope that they put me through to someone. I pick the latter course of action and in time, the automated voice gives up and puts me through.
I then go through some security questions and get to detail my complaint. I explain that the account has sat dormant for a couple of years and that there is no possible reason for the charges. The lady explains to me that the T&Cs of my account state that if I do not pay in a minimum of £500 a month, then I would be charged for having the account. She told me that these charges had been applied to my account since August last year and that in fact I had benefited from a grace period due to the changeover from A&L to Santander. She also informs me that the balance owing is in fact £410. Nice.
By this point I am incandescent. I point out that at no time had I been made aware that these charges were about to be applied to my account. At no time since August 2010 have I received a letter or a bank statement informing me that these charges were being applied to my account. In fact I have heard nothing at all from Santander since they sent me an email on the 18th September 2009 informing me that my internet banking access was about to be deactivated. I have no idea how they feel it appropriate to apply these charges and to not send me any statements to inform me. The lady tells me that she cannot deal with this complaint and that she will have to put me through to the Collections dept. Fine.
Am on hold for a couple of minutes, during which time I assume that the customer service lady is explaining my predicament to Collections. This is clearly not the case as the really "friendly" woman in the collections department needed me to explain my problem AGAIN, seemed surprised that I was not willing to just pay up and told me that I'd need to ring the complaints department. I explained that I had already tried that and got no response, could she not put me through? No. She just supplied me with the number as though I were a simpleton that probably had failed to dial it correctly the first time. Then she told me that I would need to call the Collections department back once I'd spoken to Complaints. I was astounded. Would the Complaints department not call Collections? Do they not have that internal process? No. I wail hopelessly and hang up on the woman.
10:15 Try Complaints again. No answer. Bang head on desk.
10:20 Complete a complaints form online detailing my issue and pointing out exactly how angry I am.
10:35 Get an automated response telling me that Santander have received my form and will contact me as soon as possible.
12:35 Still no response from Santander.
12:45 My phone rings *excitement*!!!! It is unrelated sales call *utter disappointment*
13:18 Nothing further to report
14:19 No more news
Stuff it, I'm getting cross now, so am going to post this blog and try to call them again later.