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Exceptional and friendly service - telephone banking and mortgage
Member Name: londongirl
Advantages: Knowledgable and friendly staff, get through to people straight away, ethical company
Disadvantages: None so far
There is no branch of the Co-Op very near to me so I have never taken much notice of them until recently. In August I put an offer in on a flat using the governments OwnHome Scheme - this is where you get a mortgage for at least 60% of the property and a loan of up to 40% from a housing association. The mortgage has to be with the Co-op so I had no choice but to go with them.
Right from the very first phone call they have been so incredibly helpful, patient and gone over and above their duty. Every single person I have spoken to at the Co-op has been friendly, easy to understand and clearly spoken which is very important when arranging something as big as a mortgage over the telephone without ever seeing anyone in person.
In order to get a particular mortgage I also had to set up a current account with the Co-op they talked me through the process and opened it up via the telephone for me - it really could not have been simpler. I don't particularly like the online banking that the Co-op has - I just don't find the screens and information very user friendly I prefer the Halifax but that is just a minor issue as the actual service I have received from them has been fantastic.
Each person I have spoken to at the Co-op whether it be about my current account or about my mortgage has been incredibly helpful and also I have spoken to some advisors on the phone who have answered the question I had called up with but then also asked if I was a first time buyer which I was and have checked whether anyone has explained to me the next part of the process or did I know what to expect next and have given great useful information as I was pretty clueless about the buying process and was just trying to muddle through taking the lead from my solicitor and the estate agents. The Co-op advisors have never been pushy trying to get me to buy anything else through them, have always called back if they needed to and when they said they would and the only call I have had from the sales team (who were not pushy either) was about whether I wanted Income protection insurance through them as they could see I was taking out a mortgage. I initially was wary because I have always thought that getting your insurance through the bank that is giving your mortgage is usually an expensive way of doing it and not always the best cover so I took the details they gave me and then did some independent research and contacted an independent financial advisor. He basically told me he could not offer me anything better in terms of cover or price and told me the Co-op were offering a good deal with insurance and I should take it! So more brownie points to the Co-op.
I have had such a good experience so far that I have been a little bit nervous about writing this review as if it is tempting fate and things will start going wrong now - however for the greater good I decided to write it anyway as if you are thinking of banking with the Co-op or getting a mortgage with them I would thoroughly recommend them. I don't know if I have just been particularly lucky or everyone has such a good experience but they have done their job so well that Co-op has gone from being a brand that I didn't take much notice of to one that I will now look at first and foremost - e.g Co-op electrical shop, bed shop, the Co-op supermarkets! Whilst I know half of these are franchises the fact that it is an ethical and well run company behind it allows me to put my faith in it.
I have one friend who specifically used the Co-op for her mortgage even when it was not the cheapest as she wanted to go with an ethical bank and not have her money used for arms, or things she did not agree with. At the time I thought I would never do that - I'd rather have the cash in my pocket than be ethical! However the mortgage deal I got was actually very good especially now the base rate has fallen as I got a tracker mortgage before they started pulling the tracker deals and I think knowing what I now know about the Co-op I would use them again even if they weren't necessarily the cheapest as they are very approachable and easy to get through to on the phone which is important with a mortgage that you can get hold of someone quickly to ask questions or overpay or check details etc.
The only error that they made was rectified so quickly and efficiently that it actually made me think more highly of them instead of badly of them for having made a mistake. It was reassuring to know that if a mistake occurs it would be put right quickly and easily.
I only wish I had taken the names of some of the more helpful people at the Co-op that I have spoken to as I would like to write a letter to their managers praising them too! I realise this review is totally gushing and possibly a bit over the top but it has been a long time since I have just been blown away by a company's efficiency, helpfulness and the fact that even though everything has been conducted over the phone I have not once been transferred to a call centre abroad everyone I have spoken to has been from a UK call centre and has had obviously all had great training as they are all very knowledgeable.
As a last added bonus of being with the Co-op you can become a member for £1 and this entitles you to a bonus twice a year based on the amount of points you accrue. You accrue them depending on how much you have on your mortgage, how much you have in your current or savings account and also you can collect them in Co-op supermarkets. They are then converted to a cash amount twice a year which you receive. Loyalty points basically but very unusual to get that from a bank or on your mortgage! Its not a huge amount for me - probably about £90 a year but a very welcome bonus!