“ Operating as a division of Halifax plc; Birmingham Midshires now provides a range of specialist lending; savings and insurance products. „
My wife and I applied for cash Isas and posted the forms together on the same day. She had a letter from them a week later saying that her isa had been opened and the balance added I received nothing I waited for four days and then rang them. They said that they hadnt received the form. I may have believed this IF I hadnt applied for a telephone account two years ago, received nothing back, telephoned and was told exactly the same thing !!
They said that they would re send forms and back date the account to the same date as my wifes Today I received an e mail asking for my postcode so they could send the forms to me. I gave them my postcode when I telephoned them. they even read it back to me !!
Just makes me wonder what sort of people are looking after my money. Wont be taking anything else out with them.
After having problems with Bir- Mid in the past I made the mistake of opening a savings account with them last month. As it was linked by the BACS system to my current account I was led to believe that Deposits and Withdrawals would be made quickly and efficiently. How wrong could I be. I instructed them to make a deposit into my new account, taking the funds directly from my current account. IT TOOK THEM 9 DAYS TO ACHIEVE THIS. WHAT APALLING SERVICE. I phoned them on their dreadful multi option customer "service" line and spoke to an operator who didnt help at all. Was put on to a supervisor who said that it does take 9 days " BECAUSE WE ARE NOT A CLEARING BANK".?? The irony of it is that both Bir-Mid and the bank where my current account is, are both part of the Lloyds banking Group. Perhaps I`m a little dim, but shouldn`t that make transfers quicker?? I would not reccomend anyone to give any business to this outfit. Customer Service does not figure anywhere in their business ethos
It's the time of the year again when most of us review their finances. I decided to change my ISA and after consulting Martin's Money saving website I decided to try Birmingham Midshires.
I tried to apply online for their ISA Extra. Although the description states that they accept transfers from another ISA, when I was about to confirm my online application, it wrote "money transfer through check". I didn't want to transfer my money through check, I wanted to give them my existing ISA account no. and for them to do the transfer. So, I cancelled the application before it was sent and decided to give them a call.
Tried to call their "Savings & Investments" team, which has a pricey 0845 no. I tried to call several times, because the phone automated menu is endless and most of the times the phone connection would die. I managed to speak to what seemed to be an older man, but after saying hello, he couldn't hear me any more, so he started singing (!!) on the line instead of saying something professional like "sorry, I cannot hear you". Then, he just dropped the phone.
After 2-3 more tries in vein, because the automated centre wouldn't connect or even give a ring tone, I managed to speak to a younger man to whom I explained the problem with the online application. He revealed that the online application was only an informal "indication of interest", and if approved then the formal application would arrive though the post. That formal paper application will have the option for an ISA transfer. I believe that it would be far better if the online banking page explained just that. It would have saved me time and money.
I completed another online application and when I hit the "confirm" icon... the script got stuck and took ages to load. This is EXACTLY what you don't want to happen with sensitive data over the internet. I got a browser message "Network Timeout The server at www.esavingsaccount.co.uk is taking too long to respond." Oh dear...
I hit "try again" and got the following message
Security: Your details are 100% protected
Thank you for applying for ISA EXTRA
Within the next few days, further instructions on how to complete your application will be sent to you - these include:
* A letter requesting a cheque for your opening deposit and confirmation slip.
* An email acknowledging receipt of your application.
Here we go with the cheque mentioning again... Fortunately the guy on the phone said that this initial application was not binding, so I hoped I was OK in case something went pear-shaped.
I clicked the "finish" icon once more, only to get a browser error message again! This time it wrote:
"The page cannot be displayed
The page you are looking for cannot be displayed because the page address is incorrect."
Annoyed, I checked my email immediately to see if there was a confirmation of receipt of my application, and fortunately, there it was.
Searching briefly the internet, it seems there are a lot of complaints regarding their online banking and customer service. The ISA is manageable only by post, but still I'm a bit worried whether this is a good or bad thing: there are complaints about their post replies, or rather non-replies, as well.
A couple of days later, the application arrived. It was pretty simple but they requested two forms of identification from a quite extensive list. This can be a bit annoying, having to search through your files to find the required documents, but with all this identity fraud going on it's rather a good thing. This application did include an ISA transfer agreement, so the young man on the phone was right. There was also a prepaid first class envelope.
I posted all the required documents and I must say I was very impressed with having my original id documents returned to me within 2 days. My previous bank sent me a statement that my previous ISA was closed, so that was a clue that my new ISA was being processed, but it took quite a few weeks for the confirmation letter by Birmingham Midshires to arrive with my account number and all the related info. . . That made me feel a bit uneasy.
So far my experience with them is kind of mixed. They seem to offer a good interest, and because the ISA is something you set up and then tend to forget for the rest 12 months, I gave it a go. But I'm not sure whether I'd set up another type of account with them, that would require more frequent contact. If you are thinking about opening an account with them, embrace yourselves for the internet experience!
* Update 7/2011 - I've been with them more than a year now, and the biggest problem as far as I am concerned is the lack of proactive communication on their part. Apart from the initial correspondence described above, I only got a letter the other day to inform me that the bonus high rate period is over and that basically my money is not making any considerable interest right now. Banks are obliged by law to send you this kind of reminder letter, so no surprises there. Apart from that, I got absolutely no statement whatsoever for a whole year, and I have no idea how much money exactly I have in this ISA right now, after a year's interest.
Time to switch ISA provider I think...
Birmingham midshires are normally good for savings but at the moment they are only paying 3.38%, this is lower than both Tesco's and ING.
The website is poorly designed with overlapping tabs but the online service is excellent, allowing you to close accounts your self without having to explain your reasoning as is the case with every other bank I have dealt with.
A loading screen is displayed after entering your details, it is quick but other banks are instant.
To log in you need a username which B&M choose for you, that's inconvenient because they use numbers so you can't remember it.
You also enter a password and answer a security question but this is all typed into a generic log in box there is little to prevent key logging or phishing.
Recently they have started requiring you to have interest paid away which is annoying since transfers have not yet been speeded up and there seems to be no timetable for doing so.
BM's ISAs are postal access only and pay 3.5%, you loose 90 days interest if you withdraw. Alliance and Leicester pay the same rate, instant access, no interest lost.
It is not possible to get any details on mortgages online as the site just says "Your local IFA will be able to advise you of the products available to you".
B&M is part of HBOS but the systems are completely separate; Halifax tries to steal business from B&M, offering me an investments review when they thought my savings account direct debit to B&M might be a mortgage repayment.
I have been a customer of Birmingham Midshires for around about 20 years.
More recently over the last 5 years I have had a telephone account with them.
Birmingham Midshires has roots dating back to 1849 and is the result of an amalgamation of some 50 building societies including the Midshires and Birmingham & Bridgwater Building Societies.
They concentrate mainly on savings, mortgages and investments offering a wide range of products to its customers.
Accounts can be opened as on-line accounts, telephone accounts or branch based accounts.
Birmingham Midshires have been voted Best Online Savings Account Provider 2008 for the fifth time and Best Direct Savings Account Provider 2008 for the fourth time by the readers of Your Money Magazine.
Birmingham Midshires continues to be a key financial provider in today's competitive market place, providing leading products and services to UK consumers. This continued growth and success has seen Birmingham Midshires become the largest private employer in Wolverhampton.
In April 1999 Birmingham Midshires became part of the Halifax Group, further enhancing its position and strength. Retaining its well-established brand and product range, Birmingham Midshires now draws on the considerable resource and expertise of its parent.
In September 2001, Halifax and Bank of Scotland merged to form a new force in banking - HBOS plc.
Having a little spare cash available myself and my husband decided to open a telephone account with Birmingham Midshires in 2003. The interest rate was favourable at the time, based on comparing it to many other service providers.
Opening the account was very straightforward. A quick call to the customer service number and the forms were sent out. They arrived within 3 working days which was quicker than the promised time of 5 working days.
We filled out the forms promptly and returned them with all the necessary documents. Within a further week our account was open and ready to use.
****How the account operates***
Via telephone where either deposits (from a linked account) or withdrawals (to a linked account) can be made.
I have to say that in my experience the customer service via telephone has always been excellent. I have always been able to speak to a customer service respresentitive within around 1-10 minutes. They introduce themselves when answering the telephone. I have found them to be helpful and knowledgable in answering any questions I have.
Great product, great interest rates (well, were!) and fantastic customer service.
Birmingham Midshires.These are absolutely useless. I opened a esaver a/c with them just over a month ago, I've been trying for 3 days to speak to someone on the phone about a query I have,but i've given up. I'm fed up hearing the same old message;"We're sorry to keep you waiting,someone will be with you shortly"After 3 days of that, i've given up and closed the account!What a way to run a business.
For savings interest rates thes guys are one of the best.
I previousley had a fixed bond with them which is due to expire shortly. However I have just opened a fixed rate ISA with them.
Their customer service is a bit hit and miss, I have rang them on quite a few occaions, mainly just for information, as there website can be a bit lacking. And in most circumstnace I have got through straight away and the rep has been very helpful, knowledgable and with a clear english accent :op. When requesting withdrawals they have taken a few days but nothing too exessive. and the opening of my new ISA took about a week which isnt too bad imo.
Their Email support is rubbish though, replys take days, and are just automatic replies, so pretty useless.
On the whole though they are very good, and seem to be clear from any sort of northern rock type issues.
I have recently applied to open a ISA with Birminham Midshires and despite my old ISA provider writing to me on the 23rd April to say the transfer is complete, Birmingham Midshire have not yet opened my ISA account and cannot tell me where my savings are currently sat. It is now the 23rd May and my savings have been in a void for one whole month. This is a disgrace. Ok, so they have said they are going to back-date the interest which is fair enough however the main issue is the concern about where my money is sat? They could have made a mistake or anything. The customer service team really don't seem to care when I phone through with my concerns - the best they can come up with is that they have been inundated with applications for ISAs - well it is April -surely they should be prepared for surges of applicants at this time of year. As soon as my money is located I am going to move it to another ISA provider as Birmingham Midshires are at best incompetent.
My relationship with the Birmingham midshires first began in 2000 when our financial advisor recommended them as having the best fixed rate mortgage deal at the time. Applying to transfer our mortgage was relatively easy even though we found Birmingham Midshires a bit fussier than the Bradford and Bingley, our previous provider. Birmingham midshires initially told us we would have to pay off a credit card even though I had a very low rate of interest on it and was earning more on a savings account. They eventually agreed to wave this request. Given that we had never defaulted on any payments and had a good income I did find this a bit over the top and was pleased that they saw sense! The fees for taking out our mortgage were very competitive although I can;'t remember exactly how much they were.
When our 2-year fixed rate term was due to end I telephoned and managed to negotiate another good deal. My experience of the Birmingham Midshires as a mortgage provider has been a positive one.
Like many people I am keen to check on a regular basis that my hard earned savings are attracting the best interest rates possible. I like comparing interest rates offered on various sites such as moneysupermarket, and Martin Lewiss web site. I have noticed the Birmingham Midshires are often very near the top for savings interest rates. At the moment they have a 1 year fixed rate bond paying 6.35% gross making it the market leader.
Birmingham Midshires can trace its roots back to 1849 and is the result of the merger of over 50 building societies. In 1999 Birmingham Midshires became part of the Halifax group and in 2001 The Halifax and the bank of Scotland merged to form the formidable HBOS group.
The Birmingham Midshires started a programme of branch closure in 2005 and by 2006 had closed 48 of its 68 branches. The remaining branches have now been converted to Halifax branches.
Although it is part of the Halifax the Birmingham Midshires does have its own identity and offers a range of unique products.
The head office is based in Wolverhampton and Birmingham midshires is the largest private employer in that area.
Birmingham Midshires are keen to emphasis that they are a responsible, caring business and support many local charities and good causes, for example the Wolverhampton marathon.
Products on offer.
I dont intend to tell you about every product that the Birmingham Midshires offers as this information can be found on their web site-www.askm.co.uk. In any case financial products offered change frequently. I think it more useful to give you a snapshot of whats on offer.
In addition to offering mortgages to first time buyers and those re-mortgaging, Birmingham Midshires specialise in buy to let mortgages, sub-prime mortgages for those who have experienced financial difficulty and self-certificated mortgages for the self-employed. Their rates have always been very competitive. Just before our fixed rate deal was due to end I telephoned and asked what they could offer to retain our business, I was offered another very good deal, again fixed for 2 years.
Birmingham Midshires offers a range of savings products including postal savings accounts, Internet savings accounts and telephone savings accounts.
If you are looking for an instant access account paying a high rate of interest then I recommend their direct telephone savings account currently paying 5.75% gross. With this account you can either use the automated telephone service or if like me you prefer to speak to an operator this is also an option. With this account you will be sent a pin number and password to access your account.
If you prefer an Internet account then there is a web saver account offering a good 5.95 % gross. As the name implies this account is only available on line. Birmingham Midshires guarantee to beat the interest rate offered by Ing bank by at least 0.25%. Again you will be sent a pin number and password in your welcome pack with instructions of how to log in to your account. Once logged in to your account you will be told how to change your pin number and password ones of your choice.
With this particular account you will need to have a linked bank account. I have always found transferring money either in or out of this account very straightforward. A statement of your transactions is available on a separate screen to view.
In addition it is possible to speak to an operator if you experience any problems.
If you are interested in applying for their 1 year fixed rate bond I mentioned then you will need to hurry as this is a limited addition and can be withdrawn at any time. This is a postal account although an application form can be downloaded from their website.
Birmingham Midshires also offer isas but for some reason these rates are not that attractive. For example they are offering 4.15% on their postal isa at present compared to 5.9 % with the Kent Reliance building society.
If you are interested in looking at their savings products but unsure which one is right for you then you may find it helpful to visit their website and use the savings selector available. Birmingham Midshires will then select the best savings account for your needs- brilliant!
How safe is your money?
Birmingham Midshires offer the best encryption technology on its web site so you should have no problems. When accessing your account you will be asked different preset security questions that aim to ensure your money is safe.
Birmingham Midshires is a member of the financial compensation scheme so in the unlikely event of it going pear shaped you would be covered up to £30,000. However with £12 billion in its savings account accounts and over £32 billion of mortgage asserts I think you consider your money safe!
I have had several accounts now with the Birmingham Midshires and would be happy to recommend them. Our mortgage account has been problem free and on the occasions I have needed to speak to an advisor I have been connected quickly and dealt with by knowledgeable staff based in Wolverhampton.
As for my experience as a saver with Birmingham Midshires again this has been very positive. Not only do they offer really good rates of interest but their customer service is very good too. It is worth noting that money awards voted the Birmingham Midshires best online savings provider in 2004.2005 and 2006.
I have always found my savings accounts easy to operate and when I have had problems they have been quickly resolved.
Their web site is easy to navigate and if you have any questions then there is a phone number to call to speak to an advisor.
As you have guessed I would highly recommend the Birmingham Midshires both for its great rates, its ease of account operating and its customer service.