As those of you who follow me on Facebook and Twitter will know, I’ve been having absolute hell with my current account provider – Barclays Bank. I’ve banked with them for coming up on four years now, and have never had a problem. But it seems that when there is a problem with Barclays, it will be huge.
I’ve been back and forth between branches, the customer service phone team, the fraud department and their online helpers and have reached no resolution.
Today, I’ve gone straight for the top and sent the following email to their UK CEO. I’m sharing this letter here in the hope to bring to light what Barclays willingly put their customers through. Customers who are just normal folk, trying to get by day to day.
(I have removed some details for privacy reasons – anything in brackets is a removed piece of info)
Dear Mr Staley,
I write regarding my Barclays account, which I have been using without issue for several years. I apologise for the length of this email, but I have tried to cover my points as succinctly as possible whilst giving you the required information.
On the 29th December 2016, my account was put “under review” by the fraud team. At the time I had no idea why, but it turns out that it is due to someone requesting a chargeback for three amounts that they had paid into my account several months before in payment for a baby carrier sold to a friend. The total amount is £90, and it is over three payments. They reported to their bank that the transaction was fraudulent even though it was not, and my account was placed under review as a result. I have since reported this to Action Fraud as “reporting fraud fraudulently”, which is a crime in itself.The Barclays fraud team has the crime referencce number for this.
I realised there was an issue with my account when I couldn’t log into my online banking and my card was taken by a machine in my local branch. I spoke to the lady on the desk, who stated that she would retrieve the card for me in the morning and hold it for me to collect the following day in branch. She made no checks on the system.
When I returned the following day, I was told that my card had been destroyed due to my account being placed “under review” by the fraud team. I asked why, and the team member told me that they cannot see why on the system (something that I now know to be untrue) and that the fraud team would write to me. In the mean time I could not withdraw anything from my account. I was told repeatedly that I would be written to. I still have not recieved a letter.
That night I called the customer helpline. I was concerned that I had a sum of compensation from a sexual assault several years ago going into the account and was worried that the block meant the money would not go in. I was assured that it would not be stopped from going in – it was just funds coming out of the account that would be stopped. I was told that if I wanted to access any money, I could call the fraud team who would authorise it.
The next morning I sat on hold for over an hour, waiting for the fraud team to answer the phone. There was £25 in my account that I had transferred to myself from PayPal before realising that my account was blocked. I was told (after waiting OVER AN HOUR) that I could only withdraw wages and benefits. I explained that I am on high dose depression medication and I need my prescription. Eventually, the member of staff agreed to authorise it as long as I could take “sufficient proof” of where the money had come from into branch. I asked what “sufficient proof” was and was told “I don’t know”. At this point I requested to log a complaint, which the team member did for me. She then informed me that my complaint would be marked as resolved as there was no bank error and I would receive a letter detailing this. I never have.
On January 7th I went into the (location) branch of Barclays with everything I could find to prove that the £25 in my account was mine. Thankfully, the staff there were very helpful and I was able to withdraw the £25 and get my prescription.
On January 10th, my compensation (amount) and my wages (amount) went into my account. I went to the (location) branch again to attempt to draw out both amounts and I had proof of ownership for both. I was in branch for over two hours while a male member of staff ran back and forth talking to the fraud department. For my compensation money, he first asked for proof of ownership, which I produced in the form of a government letter (from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority) confirming the amount and that it was to be paid to me, into my account. The team member said the fraud team wished to see a copy of this, which I agreed to. He scanned it, sent it and then I was told they would make a decision within twenty days. On the date of me sending this email, it is the 7th February. Twenty days has elapsed and I am still being told that this money is under review.
On this occasion I was able to withdraw my wages.
The following payday on January 25th, I again went to the (location) branch of Barclays with the intention of drawing out my wages. I provided exactly the same proof of ownership as I had on January 10th. The same letters, my passport and the same payslip. I was told (after an hour of waiting around while the fraud team was contacted) that my proof of address was not good enough. It needed to NOT be a bank letter. I questioned why I had been given my wages before and was told “they made a mistake”. By this point it was too late to get home and come back with further proof of address, so I left without my money.
Following this, I spoke to the complaints team and asked to log a complaint. Again, I explained everything that had happened from the start (AGAIN) and my concerns regarding it. I was then told that as there was no bank error, the complaint would be marked as resolved and I would receive a letter to this effect. I asked if there was anything else I could do, and the team member explained that I could contact the ombudsman on receipt of the letter. I still have not received a letter.
I also spoke to the fraud team that evening (after another hour long wait) and supplied the crime reference number for my report after being advised by Action Fraud to report the fraudulent reporting of fraud. I asked if there was an update on my compensation money as was told the team member could not see that information and I would need to call back during the day.
The following day I went to the branch in (location) with the requested proof, after going to my workplace to pick up further proof of ownership. I am currently signed off sick with depression and anxiety, and having to go into work to deal with this wasn’t very helpful, to say the least. At the branch, they were very helpful. But again I was there for over an hour. Eventually I left with my wages. This itself isn’t the best for me. I don’t like walking around with over a thousand pounds in my pocket until I get to my other bank (Nationwide account opened when this started). But I haven’t got time to spend an hour in branch every time I want to take out money.
On January 31st I called the fraud department for an update on my compensation money. I waited on the line for over an hour again before the call was answered. I spoke to a female member of staff who told me that I should be able to access my money as long as I could prove that it was mine. I reiterated that I had already done this, and she confirmed that I had. She then told me I could only take out wages and benefits, and questioned why I needed more money when I had only taken some out “a few days before”. I explained that the money was compensation and I didn’t want it hanging around causing anxiety – I want to book a holiday. She told me it was still under review and there was nothing further she could do.
Which brings me to today. I am still waiting for an update with regards to my compensation money. Twenty days has long passed. I can’t explain how distressing this is. For context, this is from a sexual assault that happened in 2012. I had to wait a year for it
To go through court and then fight through that in order to get a conviction. I’ve been fighting to get the payment from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority for three years now. Getting the compensation brought back a whole load of long forgotten thought and feelings, and the fact that I now seem to be fighting for this money again is extremely upsetting, particularly when this particular sum is absolutely nothing to do with the investigation that is being carried out.
The other thing that is incredibly hard about this situation is that I am consistently treated like a criminal by the Barclays team. I am constantly and consistently told “we can’t tell you that” or “we don’t have to tell you that”. I am consistently told different things, which leads to me wasting my time. I am constantly told that “we have to follow policies” but when I ask what these policies are, I am told “I don’t have to tell you that”. As someone who already suffers from anxiety and depression, the lack of openness is extremely upsetting. If there is a policy in place, it should be clear, consistent and I should be getting the same answer from every member of the Barclays team that I speak to. Not a mush mash of different information. For example, I was told that no money would leave the account and paid my council tax in cash this month, only to discover that my direct debit had come out of my account as planned.
This has cost me a hell of a lot of time and effort so far. I have spent around ten hours of my personal time chasing things, going to branches and being told different things. I have to bring my one year old with me as well, which does not help matters when I am spending over an hour in branch each time I go there. Both me and my wife have ended up in tears several times in branch because we just can’t get a straight answer from anyone. It is incredibly frustrating, to say the least.
What I would like for you to do is to listen to what I have to say and help me in getting access to my compensation money. This money is not what is under review. The money went in AFTER the block was put on the account and should not be being held. I know it probably seems insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but if it is held much longer the price of the holiday that I wish to book will be so high that I won’t be able to book it any more. As I said before, fighting once again for this money is causing a reoccurrence of my PTSD symptoms, which is incredibly unpleasant. I would also like to be compensated for the time spent chasing this and the time wasted dealing with incorrect information given by members of the Barclays team. I would also like to know where my two promised letters from the complaints team are.
I completely understand that there are policies and procedures that are there as much for my protection as for the bank’s, but the way I have been treated is appalling. Telling customers repeatedly that “I don’t have to tell you that” is upsetting and distrusting. I have had an excellent relationship with Barclays up until this point and the lack of customer service or clear information has really taken me by surprise. At the outset of the investigation I was told it should be concluded “within 30 days”. Recently I was told “within 60 days” and then I’ve also been told “there is no time frame. It takes as long as it takes”. People don’t seem to be able to give a consistent answer and that is one of the hardest things about that.
As my attempts to complain via the complaints department have fallen on deaf ears, I figured I would come to you directly. At this point I have no faith in Barclays. I don’t know where I am with my account and your action will help me consider whether to stay with Barclays once this is all over. I’m asking for your help with regards to my compensation money as a survivor of sexual assault who just wants that chapter of her life over and as a mother who wants to stop being so anxious and to engage properly with her daughter. Essentially, I need your help here as a human.
I hope this finds you well and thankyou for reading. I very much believe that you can’t solve these problems unless you know that they are happening, so I hope this gives you an understanding of what is happening here to just a normal, average customer.
My contact details are below. Please contact me at your earliest convenience.
So, that’s the story. If you’re in the UK, please consider sharing this to help me to highlight how Barclays feel it is OK to treat their customers. I’m struggling a hell of a lot with the fact that it’s my money, I have proven that it is mine and yet it is still being witheld for some unknown reason.
As you can see, speaking with them direct in branch, via the phone and via Facebook and Twitter has provided no real resolution, so I’m very much hoping that involving the CEO and the world of social media will help reach a resolution. Or at least encourage them to deal with their culture of absolutely awful customer service and keeping customers in the dark.
Wish me luck!
UPDATE – we were contacted by the Mail Online, who covered this story here —> http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4200946/Woman-month-long-Barclays-block-fake-fraud-claim.html
UPDATE 08/02/2017 – Amazingly, I had a call this morning from the head of customer relations at Barclays. My account is now open and I was compensated for my time and the frustration and upset that happened. I really hope that this doesn’t happen to anyone else.In the meantime – it’s Disneyworld AHOY for Eden’s second birthday! Just shows what the power of social media can do.