Monday, 23 August 2010

Bank's poor service costs its customers dear

The HM Revenue and Customs complex, in Notting...Image via WikipediaI have High Net Worth (HNW) clients, and they are very important to me. They present more of a challenge and provide more variety in their tax affairs. Generally they are appreciative of the service they get and also they pay my bills promptly. All my clients are created and treated equally, but I am sure that I can be forgiven for saying that some are more rewarding to deal with.

Banks apparently treat HNW customers no differently from the rest of their customers. They may give their service a different title such as Private Banking or Premier Banking, and in theory HNW customers might have a real person allocated in a branch whom they can talk to, but when it comes to the important things they seem to be in the same boat as everyone else.

I have had considerable trouble with one bank (light blue eagle emblem). Some years ago a client had an enquiry into her tax return when apparently the bank had failed to advise her of all the deposit interest she had received and consequently it did not go on the return. This was despite the bank's assurance they had found details of all interest arising to the client. It turned out that where an account had been closed before 5th April it did not show up on their list and consequently the interest was not notified to the client. If the account had been opened within the past year neither the customer nor the agent would be looking for interest details since the account would not have had interest to declare in the earlier year.

Now it has happened again even though I wrote three letters to the Bank last year and the client eventually had to make a special journey to the branch to get the relevant information. Somehow, and quite properly, the bank always manages to advise HMRC concerning all the accounts, but not the recipients of the interest, their own customers.

My client is likely to face a penalty and certainly interest on tax which should have been due last year. She cannot be expected to know whether the figures the bank gives her are complete when they open and close “bond” accounts with such frequency, and an aspect of being wealthy is that there is much more to keep track of and that is why HNWs pay extra to have people manage their affairs. Despite her Premier Banking plainly the bank does not deliver.

Of course the client and I will complain. The bank will apologize and then very likely will re-offend, and it will be so difficult to spot the offence until the letter from HMRC drops on the mat.

Do you have the same trouble with the banks? How do you deal with it?

© Jon Stow 2010
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