Friday, 16 May 2008

Letter from Abbey

The story so far: Last Friday I wrote about an abortive visit to my local Abbey branch. It was shut - due to unforeseen circumstances - as a scribbled hand-written note on the door explained. The ATM wasn't working either. A member of staff who eventually came to the door denied the closure was due to staff shortage. It's just the latest problem at my branch, so I emailed Abbey to complain.

I've already emailed Abbey's Chief Executive this year to complain about the poor service at my local branch - it was my second ever post. Rachel Dimond, Senior Customer Resolution manager wrote to promise my complaint about the leaky ceiling had been escalated to the regional manager. On my next visit I found two buckets in front of the cashiers desk, where previously there was just one!

last week I guessed Ms Dimond's email address - and sent her a photo of the handwritten closure note. Today I received her reply. She agreed the scribbled closure note on the door:

'is certainly not the image we wish to portray'

She didn't explain why the branch was shut but she did say I could phone her if I had any additional points to discuss.

I did. I phoned to say thanks - but why was the branch shut when it should be open? As a shareholder, and part owner of the business I want to know why they are turning potential business away?

Finally she tells me. To her mind this was a wholly justifiable event. I beg to differ. A problem with absent managers and a second key-holders family crisis is not 'unforeseen' it is poor planning and management. Secondly if there is a practical problem with opening up (staff were inside the branch) then a typed notice on headed paper advising when the branch will open is the professional solution. To my mind the event was wholly typical of the way the branch is run. I asked Ms Dimond to pass on my feedback - with the promise that I will move my accounts if the service doesn't improve significantly.

A couple of years ago a taxi driver told me about a nightmare he was having with his bank. I said he should demand to see the manager. 'I can't make a fuss' he said. 'Why not - it's your money?' 'I'm overdrawn' he replied woefully. I'm glad to speak up for customers who can't find a voice.

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