Immigrants and banks don’t mix

After visiting the website of money-saving guru Martin Lewis – http://www.moneysavingexpert.com – I decided to switch current accounts to a new high interest account (6.71%) from the Halifax Bank – and a switching bonus of £100.

I’ve had a bad feeling about Halifax ever since my boyfriend and I opened a joint account with them two years ago and the bank clerk burst into hysterical laughter every time I said or spelled “Mississauga” – my hometown.

Later that year I went into a branch to apply for a current account, but before doing so, I explicitly asked the clerk to check my eligibility as I was rejected from other banks because I hadn’t lived in the UK for their required length of time.  She assured me it would be OK, and we underwent a 45 minute application process where she giggled at the name of my home province of “Ontario.”  I received a polite rejection letter in the post a week later.

But today took the cake.  I applied online 30 days ago for this new account and was delighted to recieve three letters telling me my account was approved and reminding me to go into the branch to verify my identity.   I went in today and after filling out all the paperwork the clerk told me the account had been denied.  She offered no explanation and asked me to call the online banking people to explain.

I did so and was told they could not tell me why the account was denied but I should call the credit agency.  Talk about passing the buck.

Why is it the only places in the UK where I am made to feel like a real alien/immigrant are the banks?  I’ve never been in debt in my life.  I have a mortgage and pay taxes.  Rejected again, I marched into Poundland and filled a bag with Twix bars and sour wine gums – ah, there’s nothing like a dose of emotional eating.

Back at the office, tummy full but anger rising, I nearly paid £2.50 for a copy of my credit record but prayed there were more intelligent people in the call centre and phoned again.  This time I was told that the application had been closed after 28 days.  If I still wanted the account, I’d have to reapply.

On principle, I should have hung up then, but the interest rate and switching bonus are worth the crap customer service.  Plus I really should have went into the bank earlier…

<p style=”border-top: blue 1px solid; font-size: 80%; margin: 5px; padding: 5px”><strong>tags:</strong>
<a rel=”tag” href=”http://technorati.com/tag/Halifax bank”>Halifax bank</a>,
<a rel=”tag” href=”http://technorati.com/tag/Birmingham”>Birmingham</a>,
<a rel=”tag” href=”http://technorati.com/tag/banking”>banking</a>,
<a rel=”tag” href=”http://technorati.com/tag/immigrants”>immigrants</a>
<a rel=”tag” href=”http://technorati.com/tag/customer service”>customer service</a>

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1 Comment

Filed under Birmingham, money making tips, thrifty

One response to “Immigrants and banks don’t mix

  1. Your blog flicked into my Google Alerts. What you describe is a common scenario; we have a big problem with the banking disenfranchised in the UK.

    Three thoughts for you.

    1. I presume you’re not on the electoral roll. This is crucial for all applications. If you send the three credit reference agencies a. Equifax, b. Experian and c. Callcredit proof of residency details and ask them to display it – it should help your credit score.

    2. Once you’ve done this you should be eligible for a basic bank account. This is a specific product that should be asked for by name, which will at least give you access to minor banking facilities.

    3. At that point get yourself a UK hideous high rate credit card – as they’re easy to get – Capital one or Associates. Then spend about £50 on it a month, for a few months, always repaying in full so there’s no interest. This will build your profile so when you’re credit scored again you’ll have details and it should help – ridiculous I know, but there we go.

    4. After that all should be back to normal.

    Goodluck

    Martin

    (there’s more in my Credit Scoring article)

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