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I had been a member of my local building society - The Heart of England ever since I was a little girl and had always been impressed with the way they handled both my mortgage and my modest savings account. The Heart of England was then taken over by the Cheltenham and Gloucester Building Society. It was one of the first takeovers to make a payout to members so I only got £200 or so, but it was very welcome. The Cheltenham and Gloucester soon made it plain that they weren't interested in the small investor. If I wanted to pay cash in I had to pay at least their minimum amount, which was then £25, as they were trying to discourage cash payments and their interest rates for small investors were a joke. At the time I had a TESSA and used to collect all my small change each day and, when there was enough, I would pay it into the account. I ended up with about £1,000 at the end of the 5 year term so it was an easy way of saving a little nest egg. As I say Cheltenham and Gloucester made it as difficult as possible for me to continue doing this and I felt that they were only interested in the people with 'real' money. I continued with the TESSA here as it only had another 12 months or so to run, but did not consider renewing with C & G and I moved my mortgage to the Brittania Building Society shortly afterwards.
I've had a savings account with Cheltenham and Gloucester for a few years now and I've got no complaints at all. My accounts haven't been based at a branch because they have been postal/phone accounts. I love the convenience of my phone account (the Tracker account). It pays about 5.5% net interest and is linked to a bank account of your choice. The phone transactions are made (either into or out of the account) between the C&G account and the bank account it's linked to via a touch-tone phone. You input your account number, then your PIN and then the amount of money you want to move. It takes about a minute in total and the money is usually transfered in about 3-5 working days and it tells you when the money will be transferred. I have my account linked to my Lloyds-TSB student account and it means that I can put any money I don't need into my savings account without having to go to the bank all the time. I have changed my account (to a newer account) a couple of times since I opened my first account and in that time my signature has changed radically. Each time I requested a change of account, they froze my account and wrote to me telling me that my signatures didn't match. A quick phone call and a few personal details and security questions and the change was made. A little inconvenient but it shows that they do take security seriously. My only (small) criticism is that they have done this twice but have never updated my signature. The phone transaction line is only open 8am-8pm weekdays and 8am-5pm on Saturdays. I like the way this account works and you can make an instant transfer if you need to at a price. It will cost you to make an "emergency" withdrawal but I never need to so that doesn't bother me. I will probably stay with C&G for the forseeable future because I know they are reliable and offer reasonably good products. Definitely one to recommend.