Frustration when online and in-store don’t speak to each other

One Essential Retailer shares their woes at trying to close a bank account with Nationwide.

I opened an account with Nationwide nearly a decade ago and there hasn’t been a single transaction in or out in about seven years. Everytime I receive my statement with £12.51 credit, I keep meaning to close it – more to stop receiving the letters than anything else.

Unsurprisingly for a dormant account like this, I’ve forgotten my online banking details, my card reader is lost in an abyss of paperwork and my card is in a drawer… somewhere in either mine or my mother’s house. So I knew I would have to go into branch to close it and finally passing one in Central London, I decide to pop in with my statement and ID to close my account.

The only problem, I’m told by a lovely lady at the counter, is this account is linked to an online e-savings account and neither can be closed in branch – only online. To make things more frustrating, this e-account has a grand total of 53 pence in it. This whole story would have been much better if there was a forgotten grand or two hidden there, but alas no – I left the branch with my £12.51 in cash, but the 53 pence remained locked in cyberspace.

I’m told I can easily log in at home using my sort code and account number and close both accounts online. So off home I go to carry on this frustrating journey to close a surplus bank account.

When I get online however, I’m asked for my customer number, my card number and/or my card reader. I almost laugh in my laptop’s face as I take a breath and dial the customer services number from my mobile.

After a long wait, I explain my problem to another lovely lady over the phone. Her reaction tells me this is not going to be easily fixed, despite the fact I know my name (middle name and all), address, bank details as well as the address of the bank I opened the account with in the first place – I practically aced the security exam.

Nope. I still have to log in online and that involves her sending me a new card, customer number and passcode. I almost want to cry at the waste of time and resources.

So right now, I’m waiting for THREE envelopes to be delivered to my mum’s address (because they have to be sent to the address associated with the account, of course!) so I can get hold of a card I’m never going to use, to spend time creating memorable passwords I’ll instantly forget, to log into an online banking service to transfer 53 pence and, finally, close two bank accounts. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

And in all these interactions, not one time was I asked why I wanted to leave or whether I was an unhappy customer. No begging me to stay. I was slightly hurt by the lack of emotion in this break up. Ta-ra Nationwide – unless one of my letters gets lost in the post and I may end up staying with you for another decade.

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