First Direct is, in my experience, unique. I have moved my bank account several times since being a student usually due to the available facilities at different universities but have never received anything like the service I get from First Direct despite the fact that they don't have a specific account for students. When I was complaining about mediocre service at a previous bank, someone said to me that people are never happy with their banks, the best that you can be is content. Well that is no longer true. I was a little wary about the idea of telephone banking initially as I thought that it would be better to deal with people face-to-face if there are problems but this worry proved groundless - the telephone advisors are more than helpful and, anyway, there have never been any problems. The account was set up very quickly with a short form to fill in and post (for security reasons) and the rest was done over the telephone. The chequebook and cards arrived promptly and I was telephoned to make sure that they had arrived - when I mentioned that I would have preferred my name presented differently, they replaced the cards within two days and gave me a £5 credit as an apology. Since then, all has gone smoothly. You set up a password on your account which is supported by six other question such as memorable address, memorable date so that they can identify you when you telephone (the date has to be this century though for some bizarre reason!). I have always been treated courteously and basically given the kind of customer service that other banks don't seem to appreciate exists. There is also efficient Internet banking which is great because you can check what is going on in your account very quickly and easily. First Direct have a full range of accounts and services and are always happy to advise you on the products they have available. I was given wonderful advice about mortgages when I was considering
buying a house by someone who didn't have any objection about explaining it to me in simple terms and going back over the bits that were confusing - the idiots guide to getting a mortgage couldn't have made it simpler. I've had similar helpful advice on loans and car insurance. They have a free overdraft facility (either £50 or $100 is available) which is great for me as I get paid every three months so am always a bit short when my next payment is due. The other really great thing is that if they have to telephone you back, they arrange a time that suits you and they keep to it! Amazing. The dreadful thing about this is that surely all the merits to this bank that I have described - friendly. helpful staff, range of services, personal treatment - are what ALL banks should be giving their customers. (Just have to add a note that I have been to three different universities to do different courses - undergrad, postgrad etc) not because I was thrown out or anything!!)
I cannot say how wondeful First Direct are. After putting up with rubbish banking for years they are like a breath of fresh air. We made the decision to move our bank account from the Halifax Building Society approx 3 months ago. I decided to check out First Direct,mainly because i had heard good things about them, and they offered internet banking. (at the time Halifax didn't and couldn't even GET on their website!, anyway,thats another opinion to write!) After registering my interest on the website, the introductory pack arrived with 2 days. This pack contained everything we needed to set up our account. We filled everything in and sent it back with the correct identification. Again, this was returned extremely quickly and the account was up and running. We had to call them to set up security details, this was handled extremely efficiently. They even sorted out transfer of all our direct debits from our old account to our new one. This had been what was stopping us moving our account from the Halifax for all these years! If I'd have known it was going to be this easy I'd have done it years ago! The online banking is pretty good too, at least now I can keep a better eye on whats going on in our account!