Having recently graduated *sniff*, now seems like a good time to review what is now my graduate account, but was, mere months ago, my student account.
== Why is a student account important? ==
One of the best things about being a student has got to be the "free" money.
One of the worst things about being a student has got to be being broke for half the year.
Either way, money is something that is invariably on a student's mind. So having a smart place to keep your hoards of borrowed cash is really important. And of course, if you don't have hoards of borrowed cash, then an overdraft can provide real reassurance and support until that next loan installment makes its way to your account.
Another important feature is the freebies that the banks use to intice us students in. What can I say? Us students love a good freebie...
== What do NatWest have to offer? ==
Why did I choose NatWest for my student account? The answer is very simple: I've had a bank account with NatWest for many years, and although I did research other banks before deciding who to open a student account with, I ultimately chose to stick with NatWest.
For students starting university this year who open an account before 10 October 2009, this is what's on offer:
* A Maestro debit card - accepted pretty much everyone in shops and online, and can be used abroad (at a cost, obviously)
* Chequebook (you need to apply for this though)
* Student credit card (CAUTION: I'll come back to this later...)
* An overdraft facility starting at £1,250 in your first year
* Freebie #1 - A 16-25 railcard for 5 years, worth £130, which gives you up to 1/3 off rail tickets AND doubles up as a student discount card
* Freebie #2 - A 4GB memory stick, if you apply online
* A whole host of other offers and discounts
There's a variety of new-fangled things designed to make your life easier, including online banking, text alerts...and you can use NatWest ATMs to top up your mobile. They also have a clever emergency cash system, whereby if your card is lost or stolen, you can ring them and they'll give you a unique PIN which will allow you to withdraw up to £300 from your account until your replacement comes through.
== Setting up the account ==
To be eligible for this account, you just need to be a student. It's easiest to set up this account at the beginning of your degree, but I have known people switch to NatWest for a student account during their course.
* You need to be 18 years old to benefit from the overdraft facility and credit card.
* You also need a UK address and proof of this address.
If you're a current NatWest customer, setting up your account is easy peasy. I didn't even have to approach them, they sent me a letter with a very very very short and simple form to fill in and sign, and then they took care of the rest. I had been reading up about student accounts and had read that I would need to go to the bank with loads of forms and bits of paper to prove who I was, prove that I was really going to university, etc. I didn't need to do any of that. I received another letter from NatWest confirming that I had a student account once UCAS had confirmed that I had got a place at uni. Simple.
If you are not an existing customer, I can shed very little light on the process of setting up an account. Of course, the website makes it look incredibly simple. They don't tell you about what forms you actually need, but I would imagine something from UCAS that proves you have a place at university would be useful, as well of the usual proof of identity and address.
It's the same as setting up most accounts, you'll get your card and PIN through the post and then you're good to go. You are entitled to a cheque book, but you will need to ask for this, it's probably best to ask for it straightaway.
== Day-to-day running of the account ==
The most important thing about this account is that it MUST be your main, day-to-day bank account. Although I'm not sure about the legality of the situation, you are only really supposed to have one student bank account, and this must be your main account. Basically, that means that the bank doesn't want you to clear out your overdraft and then not hear from you again for the rest of the year. If you are considering having two accounts, please be aware of keeping this account active - putting money in every month and withdrawing money from time to time - as NatWest WILL chase you up on this.
The day-to-day running of this account is very simple. You can withdraw cash very easily, just check for the Maestro symbol, and more often than not it is free to do so. Putting money into your account is easy, and your student loan will normally end up in your account promptly (although I believe that this depends on your LEA). Paying money in is a simple procedure too, and setting up direct debits for paying rent, mobile contracts etc is simple too.
You can receive paper statements, I believe these come every month, but you can choose to only receive online statements. I don't use online banking so I can't comment on how easy that is to use, but all my friends rave about it. Their website is easy to use and informative, so I imagine their internet banking would be the same.
I don't use text alerts and don't know anyone who does, but that option is also available.
== The Credit Card ==
Yes, the scary bit. NatWest will give you a student credit card, should you so desire. You do have to apply for this, and of course you're not guaranteed to get it, but it's much easier to try and get a credit card with your bank than anywhere else.
Applying for my credit card couldn't have been easier. I asked a cashier how to go about it, she gave me the form to fill in, and that was it. I received my card and PIN in the post and I had to ring up to confirm receipt of the card and to activate it. After that, I was good to go.
The GREAT thing about this credit card is that it's perfect for beginners. I think we all know how scarily easy debit cards can be, click a few buttons online, or tap a few numbers into a machine and you've just spent £50. Quick and painless...until you check your balance...credit cards are ten times worse! I was very dubious about getting one, but my mum of all people convinced me to get one. The Student credit card has a limit of £500, so you can't go too crazy with it! The best thing about it is that the credit card comes with a direct debit automatically set up, linked to your main student account. Basically, everytime your credit card bill comes through, a set amount will automatically be transferred to the balance, meaning that you NEVER miss your minimum payment. Obviously, you want to think about paying the rest off sharpish, as the interest rates aren't forgiving (around 19% I believe), but it's a great weight off your mind. You can control how much is paid by direct debit each time, be it the minimum payment, which is 5% of the balance, or the full amount. The card itself is a Mastercard, so once again, can be used in most places.
This credit card merits a review all of its own, but I feel it does deserve a mention within this review. Not all students will want one, but it's worth knowing that it is there should you need/want it.
== The Overdraft facility ==
Now, this is what most students will be interested in. NatWest offer a very competitive overdraft facility, again incorporating some great features designed to make your life stress-free.
* Year 1 - £1,250
* Year 2 - £1,400
* Year 3 - £1,600
* Year 4 - £1,800
* Year 5 - £2,000
You can only use your overdraft across the five years if you still hold a student status, and during this time you can ask to have your overdraft limit lowered or raised at any time. An overdraft is easy to set up, literally go into a branch, ask for one, and provided they say yes, it's pretty much instantly set up. Your overdraft will be interest free provided that you have agreed it with the bank, you will be charged a fair sum if you go over the limit agreed.
NatWest have also introduced a new staggered system to the overdraft, to help you budget across the year. Instead of offering you an overdraft of £1,250 for your first year outright, they break it down across the three terms, offering you £500 for your first time, increasing it to £1,000 for your second time and then putting it up to the full £1,250 in your third term.
I was lucky enough to not have to use my overdraft facility, but it was very comforting to know that it was there should I need it.
== Interest rates and mathsy bits ==
I must admit, I don't worry too much about all the APRs and VATs and %. All of that scares me somewhat. The overdraft is interest free provided you stay within the limit, but the rates rise sharply if you go over your limit. Interest on your balance is paid monthly, but it's barely worth worrying about, as the amount of interest you'll earn on your balance is not likely to be more than about 5p (and that's good going!)You'll incur a charge of £38 every time you go over your agreed overdraft limit, or if you don't have enough money in your account to honour a direct debit for example. Of course, there's also the dreaded interest to think about if you do go over your agreed overdraft limit, which is around 18%.
You'll find all the accurate facts and figures in leaflets in branches, or on the internet.
== My Experiences of dealing with NatWest ==
My only personal experiences of dealing with NatWest have been fine. I've only ever needed to go into the bank for a couple of things over my four years, paying in cheques, doing overseas transfers and asking for advice, but I've never had any problems. However, everyone has different experiences and I've heard plenty of horror stories about NatWest, as I have with other banks.
NatWest had a branch on campus but I found that I never really used this - I don't know why, but it felt almost like it was a 'pretend' branch and I wouldn't actually be able to do the things I wanted to do there. However, this is 100% based on perception and not on experience, and in hindsight I think it was really useful to know that there was a branch on campus should I have needed it. As it turned out, I lived in the centre of Birmingham so was able to use their main branches in town, several of which are open on Saturday morning - which is really useful.
I've found NatWest staff to be very helpful and friendly, both in my home branch and in Birmingham, and I was always able to do what I wanted quickly and easily. Even a transfer to a French account, which looked pretty scary from the form was explained to me quickly and in simple terms. I came up against a bit of opposition when I tried to get my Solo card (which I had from my previous account) switched for a Maestro, as Solo aren't excepted everywhere. I'm fairly sure that this should have been changed automatically when my account became a student account, but this didn't happen. I'm sure it would have happened when my Solo card expired, but I didn't want to have to use a Solo card for any longer, so I went into my local branch and enquired about the possibility of switching. Unfortunately, it was a bit of a 'computer says no' situation, the cashier said that the system wasn't suggesting that I should change, but she put the wheels in motion and I received my Maestro fairly soon after that.
So, for any current NatWest customers who are looking to upgrade to a Student account, make absolutely sure that if you don't already have a Maestro card, that you will get one as soon as possible. It'll mean not having to worry about whether your card will be accepted in high street stores and restaurants, as well as on the internet. Particularly for students looking to go abroad and use their card, a Maestro is a must as Solo is NOT accepted abroad.
== What happens now? ==
Your student account will automatically be upgraded to a graduate account in the July of the year that you graduate. A lot of the features of the student account will still be available to you, including the interest-free overdraft, and you'll have access to an interest-free plan to help you repay any exising overdraft. You are also entitled to a graduate loan of up to £15,000, with specially tailored rates. Well worth looking into.
== Overall Opinion ==
Overall, my experiences with NatWest have been positive, and I hope that they will continue to be. I've been able to manage to day-to-day running of my account without having to spend half of my life in the bank, which suits me, so I haven't really had many opportunities to encounter problems with the bank or with the staff. I have been in to enquire about other services and other bank accounts with other people and they're generally very helpful and give accurate information. I did notice a few small descrepancies between things I was told in one branch and another, but very minor details. NatWest gets no complaints from me.
NB: I feel it's worth mentioning that NatWest also provide a student account for International students. However, the terms and conditions are quite different to that of this student account, and it's an account I have no prior knowledge or experience of, hence why I haven't really mentioned it within this review.
Natwest offer a great student package on the face of it. There is a free 5 Year rail card thrown in worth about £150. This is great for most students as it makes the train the same price as the coach so we can save journey time going back and forth from home. There are also various discounts on products like Acer Laptops and 3 mobile broadband. Most other banks offer £50 cash incentive to join their bank so if you don't use the trains then maybe its better to go for a different account.
Natwest say that offer a £1500 interest free overdraft in your first year! Great. Actually they only offer £500 in your first term which is the time when you need the overdraft to pay for accommodation on next terms student loan.
Also, the whole system for switching onto this account is way too complicated. They make you fill out about 10 forms in branch and you're just not sure what you've signed up for.
I have to say that the staff in Natwest are generally more friendly than in other banks so this may also be a choosing factor. I use the branch on Whiteladies Road in Bristol and they are always very helpful.
Overall, not a bad account so far. Be careful not to go over the agreed overdraft or they'll slap on a load of fines and ruin your credit rating.
I think NatWest's student account seems to attract a lot of strong opinions, both good and bad! This review is based purely on my own experience.
Aged 16 I opened a young person's account with them in order to get 2 free CDs (!). I think this account was called a Card Plus account but I can't be sure, it was eight years ago after all!
In the summer before I went to uni, I visited my branch to get my account changed to a Student Account. The process was very straightforward and I got the full £1250 overdraft, a credit card (for emergencies, I may as well say now that I never used it!) and £25 for opening the account - sadly I started uni the year before they introduced the railcard offer!
I didn't use the overdraft in my first year at all, as I had some money saved from a summer job, but during my second year I started to go into it, and had it increased at the beginning of my third year, to the full £1600 I was entitled to. I did this at the branch and there were no problems.
During my second year I registered for online banking, this was a very simple procedure which involved getting a Customer Number sent in the post and choosing a password and PIN. Being able to view my account details online is very useful and I have not (as yet!) had a problem with fraud.
I have never gone over my agreed overdraft limit, or had a direct debit/cheque etc. bounce, so can't say how sympathetic they are in these cases, however there was one occasion late in my third year when I tried to take money out and the ATM wouldn't let me... I checked my balance online and I had no money left! Full marks to NatWest for not letting me take any money out as I surely would have been charged.
When I left uni my account was automatically upgraded to a graduate account. As a student it's VERY important to check what happens when your student account changes - most don't and get a shock! The Halifax account for example offers up to £3000 interest free overdraft as a student, but once you graduate you need to pay this back in a year which is totally unrealistic! With NatWest your interest-free overdraft limit reduces to £1000 a year after graduation, £500 two years after and to £0 three years after, which is easily achievable so long as you manage carefully. Note that only the interest-free limit changes: I still had a £1600 limit three years after graduating, it just wasn't interest-free any more.
However, three years after originally graduating, I went back to uni to do a full-time 1 year MA so was able to get my account (which by now had turned into a Current Plus account, their standard current account) converted back into a Student Account! I went into the branch to do this and there was some confusion at first, as it wasn't a a student branch, the advisor wasn't sure if 1-year postgrad degrees were eligible, and when she phoned to check the person on the other end said they weren't! I had to get the booklet and point out the T&Cs to her! However it was all sorted - just remember to stand your ground if this happens to you, stay polite and get a copy of the T&Cs! In addition, as I was technically in my 4th year of study I was able to get an interest-free overdraft of £1800!
The 5-year railcard is supposedly only for 1st-year undergraduates, but I got an email welcoming me to the account with a special code: I took a chance and applied for the card and it arrived in the post about a week later!
I know some people have had less than pleasant experiences with NatWest, but my experiences have been very positive and I certainly recommend them. They offer a very realistic overdraft, and when you take the graduate package into account as well I personally think it's the best!
I went with Natwest's student account just before I started university mainly because of the free young persons railcard, which would've cost me £99 a year, i am now getting one free for all 3 years of my degree - its a student essential for travelling from home to uni!
All student accounts these days are at 0% interest... until you leave university.
I am only in my second year so I am not in a situation yet where I will have to pay back the interest.
Natwest has one of the largest overdrafts on the student accounts, which is a good or bad thing depending on how you look at it. It was easy enough for me to expand my overdraft in 5 stages over the period of my first year where I stupidly blew my budget! Now I am paying for my actions this year as I try to pay it back.. but that is a different story!
My friend in the exact same boat as me, got sent angry letters from Natwest as she closed her overdraft back up as she was paying it off. The cashier even rudely told her that she will have bad credit and they wont give her a mortgage if she keeps changing her overdraft - they seemed happy enough to make our overdraft bigger now when we are paying them back and trying to get out of debt we get reprimanded?..hmmm..
Some cashiers at Natwest branches have been rude to me before when I suggested closing my overdraft, and I got put off doing it in the end...bad mistake!
The online banking system is a bit of a pain up the backside, with millions of security codes to enter, about 5 pages to go through before you can actually see your balance, then you have to view your transactions in a confusing table where you have to specify between which dates you want to view. In able to transfer any money to anybody you have to order a card reading device which takes ages to come and is particularly complicated. Security is all very well but this is ridiculous!
My direct debit went over into my undiscussed overdraft and I got charged a bank fine of £38! Steep in comparison to other banks' charges.
The image of the bank is ok, it was easy to set my overdraft back, and some people in the branches have been helpful in assisting me but it cannot be said about all staff.
It is useful being with natwest as a student as my university (kent), amsongst others, has a branch on campus just for student banking.
You also get a cheque book with the account (not that i have used it)
Overall a mixed opinion on natwest as a student banking service. Probably worth it for the rail card though...
I have only had this account for a few weeks, technically anyway, but I thought I'd start a review of it now, as I have a rather clear idea of how my relationship with Natwest will be from now on. Since I have (perhaps rather lazily) decided to stick with them despite my experiences so far, I will update this review regularly so people can get a clearer idea of a typical student's experience with this bank.
~*~* Why did I decide to go with Natwest? ~*~*
I didn't by any means rush into the decision of banking with them, I dedicated a few hours to thoroughly looking through all the major competitors websites, picking up a few leaflet, looking on all the comparison sites...boring but rather essential stuff. The main point in opening a student account is for the 0% interest rate on agreed overdrafts (i.e you don't pay any more than what you borrow back..is the idea). As anyone knows, uni is a ridiculously expensive time and that's excluding tuition fees. Therefore, depending on circumstances, a lot of students want the bank which will give them the biggest overdraft. Natwest doesn't win in this category, with the first year overdraft going up to £1250 compared to the likes of Halifax, where you could get up to £3000 (though, I think this is unlikely for the average 18-19year old fresher.) The thing is though, this cash is not free. Even if its 0% interest. It's not good to get into debt! So (I hope I'm not being too naive here) I would rather not go into such an overdraft in the first place and do the unthinkable..get a job :(
- Free 5-year Student Railcard
Basically, what Natwest is known for. S'long as you use it as your main account (i.e get your loan paid in, a have a few transactions going out) and sign up for internet banking by sometime in October 2009, you are supposed to qualify for one. We shall see..
Last year, Natwest won an award for having the same student account (I am starting to wonder why now though.) Therefore, silly me, thought it was logical that they would know the most about dealing with students...i.e they'd know what they were doing and would be a bit more sympathetic when needed. And also, it is a plus point that they have a branch situated on my university (and many other) campus.
~*~* How easy was it to open ~*~*
Well, it was rather simple I thought at first. I just went onto the website and entered my details. I received a letter in the post soon after, and a useful checklist of things to send to them (basically the letter of acceptance from the uni) and was rather pleased that I did not need to send proof of ID, like a signed copy of my passport. I guess it's because they verify your details against UCAS. I then received a letter saying to sit back and wait for my card and pin to arrive.
But more than ten working days later it didn't. And now (I've lost count of how many days later it is..) it still hasn't. So, I called the call centre. First time: "sorry you're not registered for telephone banking so only the branch can deal with you & track your card...hold the line please...oh sorry, they're closed, call back tomorrow." This was within the working hours of the day, by the way. Second time: Basically, the same, but the branch didn't pick up. Third time: After complaining that I wasn't getting anywhere, he said he'd call the branch and they'd call back. But they didn't.
So, a trip to the branch it was. My first impressions were as I expected, these people just don't know what they're doing. For a start there was only one person on the enquiry desk, which had a queue stretching from one end of the room to the other. So, I got to stand there and day dream for about half an hour before some lady appeared and actually asked what she could do. Luckily, she showed me to a room where I could sit and try to ignore the leg cramp they had just inflicted upon me. I will give credit here though, the staff have always been very friendly and chatty and she was rather apologetic...but still, I just got that feeling that she hadn't a clue really. (Which is basically what she told me.)
And so what was the problem? Well, they did know where my card was..it was up about 3 & 1/2 hours away, lurking somewhere outside my university accommodation to be precise. Why? Because when applying they asked for both my home address and uni address...and decided to send it there, even though it clearly stated TERM TIME address and they even asked when the course began. So what's the solution? Stop it and send me one to my home quick, you would think.... Sorry, no, "we can only send it to your uni address." How does their slogan go? Natwest: Helpful banking. Really...how is it helpful not to know what's happening to your card??
Thinking my uni would be nice and sympathise, I sent them an email asking if they would be so kind to look after it until I arrive. But no, they didn't want to accept responsibility either. And so, it was back to the bank. And thinking someone would get some sense and send it to the right place, I was again wrong. All they could do was stop that one and send it to the bank. But that might take more than two weeks to arrive. They don't know. But what if i've gone to uni by the time it comes? Can my parents go and get it to send to me? "No, sorry...all we can do is hope." No wonder we're in recession if the banks just get by by "hoping."
And so we shall see whether luck and Natwest can go together..I doubt it somehow. Just a note, to anyone thinking of applying...it might work out for you, I don't 100% not reccommend it...just don't give them you're address before you move in!!!
To be continued...
I'm going to write this review strictly from experience.
I think Natwest is probably the best bank for any university student to use. Before going to university I had a nationwide account set up with a visa card and flex account, i also had a back up ISA. At university i like most typical students grew into a habit of clothes shopping and drinking and I ended up drinking myself skint -£800 skint. on an adult overdraft which charged £30 everytime i even went a penny over my £800 limit. I worked in a nightclub at the time and decided I was going to have to work 30 hours as well as university. So Nationwide took away my overdraft and any money i put in I was unable to touch. I went to Natwest explained my situation and they gave me a student account. I never put in any money and I had an overdraft available, around £1200 limit 2nd year, £1600 last year, once you have graduated limit is £2000. This was great I had no money going in there and i had a new overdraft availble if needed.
The only catch was that after leaving uni you have a year to pay off t£1000 of the £2000 overdraft, but it is do-able!
A great place if you need an overdraft fast, no silly catches and you get a rail card!
Natwest: their operation is a poor joke from start to finish.
Business: a bank that won't lend you money unless you have money already. What's the point? You could be as talented as God, you could have the best business plan since sliced bread, you could be Richard Branson's son or the second coming. But Natwest's criteria for loaning money is that you already have it. That is it. The devil? Saddam Hussein? An alien from the planet Zog? Step this way, gentlemen..
Personal: frequent mistakes in interest, unacceptable charges for going 1p over your 'limit' which wouldn't exist if not for their incompetence in other areas. For example lending you money in the first place. £35 for failing to pay a direct debit, £30 (every month) for being overdrawn, 28% interest. Yummee!
Personal favourite of Natwest is that if you are overdrawn on the last day of one month and the first day of a second month, they charge you twice! £60!!!
Student: won't increase your overdraft to an acceptable level and think you are a git.
Bank with Natwest and you could go hungry. Still not as bad as HSBC.
Natwest bank have got to be the worst bank I have ever dealt with in my life. The customer service is crap and the interest rate is so low I do not know why they bother. They actually make me feel like bank robbers are the good guys. If you are a student DO NOT bank with these people, they are aliens from the planet Anus and will gladly pull down your pants and leave you walking like John Wayne for a week if you go over your overdraft limit. I cannot believe that they think that students will actually remain loyal to them after being left peniless for three years or more by these stingy mingers. These people should be tied up to lamposts and beaten around the head by Les Dawson with a wet kipper. Avoid at all cost.
When going to University I chose to have my account with NatWest as they had a branch on campus and in retrospect I'm very glad. I found them to be helpful, understanding and efficient. I received a cheque book, cash and debit card and interest free overdraft. It was easy to organise the overdraft which was extremely flexible and could be increased over the phone. Throughout my time as a student I had no problems with the account. Similarly, as a graduate I have had no complaints. My account was automatically changed from student to graduate status, which lasts for 3 years. Throughout this time you still have access to an interest free overdraft, which is invaluable especially as there is no charge for exceeding your limit. I also found it very straightforward to organise a graduate loan and to seek advice in times of monetary strife! The only thing I would not recommend is the NatWest Credit Card which is high interest and very unfriendly!
Many people had bad experience with Natwest, but I can tell u of my experience. In short I messed them around, so they are sort of messing me around. I have 3 accounts with Nawest (1 Isa, 1 student, and 1 current). I agreed an overdraft limit of £500 in the first year which was easily done, and hence they told me to put all my loan/grant into this account, I didn't listen because I though I can make more interest if I take my loan and Overdraft to a high savings account. 2nd year I wanted an increase, they said my account has been dormant, so I was happy for £500 limit. Same thing happened, took the money out, earned interest and put it back. 3rd year, I wanted an increase, they again agreed to £500, so this time I had a big fight with them, and mentioned the good services from Halifax, Barclays, etc. (i.e. lied), after nagging, eventually it was increased to £1000. I took the money out again, the account was dormant for a year. Now the account has been turned into a graduate account, and we are eligable for £2000 overdraft. I rang them and asked for an increase. They said 'No activity in your account, so NO' I said 'Fine' I have a brilliant job lined up in Sept (which I can show them the letter), if u don't increase, then p**s off, and I will go to Barclays. They said we will extend it for 3 months, put money in/out etc. Then we will re-discuss. So I do all my banking online, and so I every week for the next couple of months, I will be transferring £10/20 between several accounts. If they still treat me badly, there are several other banks which offer interest free overdraft for graduates. Although, I will end up doing the same thing, take the money out, put in Isa, put back next year. I am not loyal, if I don't like a bank, I move on, in fact I have accounts with first-e, egg, IF, all online, hence I never have to speak to bank mangers.
I am a foreign student and have banked with NatWest for over 9 months now. They gave me 30 pounds to open the account, and I generally found them helpful and tolerable until recently. Before I left the UK to return to the States for the summer, I arranged in person to have money from my NatWest account transferred to my US account. I filled out the paperwork including my US contact number. I was told that the paperwork/processing would take 5 business days. I wanted the transfer to happen on 1 June, so I was told they would begin the process on 21 May, which would allow for the weekend and bank holiday. On 1 June I rang (from the States) their call centre to make sure the money had left my account. It had not. I was told that someone from the correct department would contact me within three hours. When they did not contact me within the specified time, I rang back. I was told that the department I needed to speak (Relay Payments) to had closed nearly two hours beforehand. They put it in as a Service Failure that no one had conacted me, and promised again that the Relay Payment Dept. would contact me, AND that someone from customer care would contact me regarding my complaint about the service failure. Of course, none of this would occur until Monday, 4 June. On Monday, 4 June, I received no call from either the Relay Payment Department or the Customer Care Department regarding the service failure. I rang the call centre yet again to find out what the status of the transfer was. It still had not left my account. I was told this time that I needed to speak to my branch, as they would have the paperwork for the transfer. Once again, the woman to whom I spoke sent a message through for someone from the branch to ring me, but nobody ever did. I rang the call centre at approximately 5:30 PM GMT, but by this time, all those in departments who could have given me the help I needed had gone home for the day. On Tuesday, 5 June, I rang t
he call centre again. The woman to whom I spoke to someone at my branch, who said that the paperwork had gone to the processing centre in Liverpool. She attempted to get through to the processing centre, but the lines were engaged. She gave me the number and advised me to ring them in ten minutes or so. I did this, and spoke to a woman who told me that the order for the relay payment had not been put into their system until the day before, which mean that it would be leaving my account that same day. I do not understand how everyone else saw that the order for the payment had been put in on 21 May, and yet she was now telling me that it had not been received by the processing centre until the previous day, but I accepted this answer. I rang my bank several times on Wednesday, 6 June, but the money never made it into my account. On Thursday, 7 June, I woke at 4:00 AM Central Standard Time (10:00 AM GMT) to ring the call centre yet again. The woman I spoke to now informed me that it would take 5 days after the payment left my UK account for it to show up in my US account. I had been informed from the beginning that it was the paperwork that would take 5 days, and not the transfer itself. This answer made me uneasy, so I rang back several hours later to confirm this. The woman who took my call also said this was the case. She put me through to someone else (I assume in the Relay Payment Department, though I was not told) who assured me that it did indeed take 5 days and promptly slammed down the phone. On Friday, 8 June, someone from my bank FINALLY rang me. I was shocked to receive this much attention. I told the man what had happened and that I wanted the fee for the transfer refunded to me. He said he would have to speak to someone else about it and would ring me on Monday. The money has made it into my US account, but I am still angry about the entire fiasco. Considering the amount of time, money (for international phone calls) a
nd stress I have spent trying to resolve this matter, refunding the fee is the very least they can do. Even if they do this though, I will almost definitely change banks when I get back. There is no excuse for this.
I seem to be one in a long line of Natwest Customers who are totally dissatisfied with how we are treated as a Student Account holder. With the new student loans system, many of us have found that the overdraft is the essential requirement for even being able to get on that first step to going to uni, and in many ways Nat West see us as the most important people to attract in terms of new custom. And as most uni grads turn out to be top earners, this PLC will make millions out of us in interest, financial services, mortgages etc. So why are we not treated like human beings??? For most of its student account holders, any contact with banks is considered daunting. This is why I stay as far away as possible and use the telephone banking service. Even so, I still feel the impatience of the telephonist as I ask questions such as 'can I have an extension?'. I am often been made to feel like I am a silly teenager who has overspent in a pub rather than a struggling adult supporting herself at university. Its time they sorted this out, I have heard so many complaints about the bank, and I only wish that the transfer process was much simplier so that I could have escaped a long time ago!
As a concerned parent I am expressing my disgust at the attitude this bank has shown to my daughter. As a lifetime user of Natwest I would think that this bank would be appreciative of the problems that our future earners and homeowners go through in their attempt to better themselves. As soon as my two daughters were old enough I encouraged them to use the Natwest and my wife and I set up accounts for them. Unfortunately I am disabled and my daughter has to try to manage on the meagre student loan. She is one of the top students with straight A stars and studying law at Nottingham with a great future ahead of her according to her tutors. When she joined the uni she didnt think she would need a large overdraft from the bank, so she took out a small one. As the year went by she realised that with books and living it would be apparent that she would need a reasonably large overdraft limit. I thought that with the family being good customers there would be no trouble so I said go see the manager. She did this and to my disgust he informed her that she couldnt have an increase because it is standard practise not to give increased overdrafts to first year students, WHAT COST LOYALTY. Anyway NATWEST can be assured of something and that is when my daughter is a big earner in the law profession they certainly will not get her business which also means any future family she might have so GOOD THINKING natwest. By the way she has moved to Lloyds/TSB who had no qualms about giving her want she needed.