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abbeynational.co.uk

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      02.11.2003 20:46
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      We've had our main current and savings accounts with Abbey National (now known simply as 'Abbey') for many years now. Initially there was a small branch within a few minutes' walk from our home, but unfortunately that closed down. While most transactions happen automatically, it was a bit of a nuisance having to drive four or five miles to an Abbey branch if we needed to do anything out of the ordinary. Telephone banking was all very well in theory, but any time we tried to use the service we would be put 'on hold' for an unknown amount of time, and often gave up before reaching the relevant person to speak to (although on the rare occasions we did reach someone, they were extremely helpful). So we were delighted with the introduction of Abbey National online banking. We were already somewhat used to secure online transactions; while I had initial reservations about having our entire bank account online, their promises of security were sufficiently reassuring to encourage us to sign up. This proved to be simple: we spoke to someone at the branch, and they arranged for our accounts to become available online, connected to my debit card. We were sent a code word and a numeric password, in two separate registered envelopes, a few days apart. In order to set the system up on the computer, I had to type in the number on my card, then the two codes I had been sent, and some other information they had asked for. I was told to change the pass codes immediately, and found that easy to do by following the on-screen instructions. I have never regretted this move. I can now check our latest account details, move money between accounts, or even pay bills without ever leaving the computer. * Site appearance and navigation * Although for some time there was a rather annoying opening 'flash' screen, the site was redesigned in a more straightforward fashion about a year ago, and then again more rece
      ntly in line with their new name. It now looks friendly and well-organised. There are usually a couple of banners in the middle advertising the Abbey's latest rates, or preferred bank accounts; there are also links to information about insurance, young people's accounts, loans, and other facilities offered by the bank. * Accessing the accounts * There's a link on the home page to 'e-banking log on'. Clicking this opens up a page at their secure site, where the debit card number and the two pass-codes have to be entered in full. When this is done correctly, a further screen opens giving the various options: transferring money, seeing balances, checking recent transactions, and so on, for all accounts that are registered with the debit card. These links are clearly marked and simple to follow. * Checking the account details * I most often log on to check the state of our bank accounts. Although I do keep an up-to-date record myself, as far as possible, it's useful to know exactly when direct debit payments are taken, and when debit card transactions and cheques have been accounted for. When selecting this option, I'm given a drop-down menu of the three accounts I have connected to the debit card, with the default being the current account. There's a printable list of the last forty transactions with the most recent at the top; it's very easy for comparing with other records. * Transferring money * The only 'action' that can be taken is transferring money, either between accounts which are already linked via the debit card (and thus available to view) or to pay into another account which has to have been set up separately and authorised, for instance to pay a regular bill such as a rent payment. So in the unlikely scenario that somebody managed to hack into my account, they would not be able to get hold of any money from it. * Help and support *
      There is an email address for any problems which occur: this can be useful if there are site problems (as there were occasionally when it was first operational) but can't be used for dealing with financial queries. Since email addresses are not secure, they will only deal with account questions in person, or on the phone. I thought this was a bit of a nuisance at first, but then again I'd rather know that my bank account is safe. Too much security is preferable to too little, in my personal view. * Conclusion * We've been extremely pleased with the speed and efficiency of the service in general. Being able to transfer money instantly between accounts means that it's possible to keep money in a higher-interest savings account until the day when it's needed in the current account, and then transfer it without going into overdraft. With low interest rates these days it probably only makes a penny or two difference, if that, but is still quite satisfying. So far we have not discovered any errors in the accounting, and have not experienced any problems with this system other than some initial difficulties getting through, which were partly due to its unexpected popularity. All in all this is well-planned system that works as we wanted it to. (NB some of the categories such as 'postal confirmation' aren't relevant to this as it's not an online ordering service)

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      • More +
        19.01.2003 03:08
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        • amateurish

        I must admit from the outset that, although I am blessed in many regions- looks, intelligence, attractiveness to the opposite sex and a whole raft of others that modesty forbids me mentioning- I am not great at managing money. That is the reason I got a wife. They may be costly to run, and may make unreasonable demands on my time and body (after 2 kids? If only!), but they are generally better at keeping the good ship Nolly afloat every month. I moved my current account to Abbey National 2 years ago, as I wasn't totally happy with the service I was getting. I was surprised by the courtesy, helpfulness and speed in which they got me sorted. They gave me a card, a cheque book and a PIN number and I was a happy man! So what has the service been like? Well, I am more than happy with the counter service- the branch assistants are welcoming and always seem to be interested in each client which, when you have an ego the size of mine, is a great thing. You can pay in and withdraw cash just by flashing your 'multifunction debit card', which is very handy indeed. The network of cash machines (or ATMs as they are called nowadays- I remember the times when TSB called theirs 'Speedbank'- a teensy bit ironic, I feel) is huge, and you can withdraw from any other member of the LINK network. Well, that's the up side, and it has been brief, yet thorough, but very brief (yes I know I said that twice but feel that it is a bit short- I'm saving up my words for a long-winded rant). So what, I hear you ask, are the minus points for Abbey National? Well, the first thing is statements. I get paid on the last day of the month, as do a lot of people. I have given up asking Abbey National to redate my statements- my statements run from the 16th of the month to the 16th of the month- all of which is as useful as a chocolate teapot in keeping a close eye on your finances. The bank is very swift and adept at withdrawing money, b
        ut paying in seems to take a little longer (who gets the interest I hear you ask). Abbey National has a very clear charging list, and I have, on one or two occasions, fallen foul of it. However I have been charged £30 on occasions because a direct debit could not be paid even though the funds came in by transfer on the same day- they seem to debit accounts at 9am and credit them at 4pm- it gives them 7 hours of interest. I have contacted the phoen banking department and complained, and have the charges reversed, but the statements still shows 'Refused Direct Debit Charge' and then 'Refund of Direct Debit Charge' - this will bode very well when you send a mortgage lender 3 months' worth of statements- why the hell can't they just scrub it? Why do they have to charge then refund? The main gripe I have is with the 'e-banking' arm of the bank. My wife keeps her money at the black horse (the bank, not the pub) and can, online, acces statements, request instantaneous decisions on overdrafts, loans, can pay bills instantly, can transfer money- all at the click of a button. I use the Abbey National e-banking system.... Can you keep a check on your balance? Yes, but you can't view online statements. You can see the last 40 transactions, but only the name and the amount- not what your balance was at the time of each. It will say what your actual and working balances are, but if there is a difference, it won't say why (you know, 'the £15 difference is because your direct debit should come off in the morning' or 'we are in the middle of cashing a cheque on your account so you'll bloody well have to wait!') Can you pay bills, set up transfers, transfer money and get overdrafts and loans online? Well, yes and no- you do the typing, but it is no more than a glorified message service- it is done by a clerk on the next banking day- not exactly instant online banking, just a posh message and m
        emo service! The website is, frankly, amateurish, and should be restructured before too many people die laughing. I hope someone from Abbey National reads this as they calim to be a modern bank who react to the needs of their customers. I feel at the moment they just pay lip-service to the needs of customers. I would suggest that the best way of getting the abbey habit at the moment is to bugger a monk! Happy banking! Neil January 2003

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