Thursday, January 31, 2008
On Monday afternoon, I went to the Burgess Hill branch of Lloyds TSB to pay in a cheque. Each time I go to Lloyds, the cashier pauses after processing my payments to see if there are any 'notes' on my account, which ultimately results in the staff member declaring that I'm due for an account review. Up until now, I've managed to avoid having the review, claiming I'm too busy etc. If I wanted to talk about my personal banking, then I'd ask to speak to someone. Anyway, the 'note' on my account must have read along the lines of "Don't let this swine leave the branch, we need to interrogate him" The cashier got up from behind the counter and took my 'paying in book' to the front desk where it was passed to the personal banking manager. For the purposes of the story, I will refer to him as 'Arnold' (His real identity shall remain a secret for now) Arnold invited me to step into his office, well, didn't invite, more of a "You will enter my office"
Arnold's plan of attack began by attempting to lure me into a false sense of security by pretending to be interested in what I had done that day and what I do as a job. I opted to refrain from mentioning Burgess Hill Uncovered as I knew early on that I'd be writing about this banking adventure, after all, it's not everyday that you are held prisoner in the office of a bank.
With the small talk over, it was time for Arnold to get down to business. He brought up my account details on screen and questioned why I had more money in my current account as apposed to my 'online saver' He said that people only keep a few hundred pounds in their current accounts and go overdrawn if need be! Can you see what he's doing here? Thats right, he wants me to have less money in my current account, so that the chances of going overdrawn and facing penalty charges increase.
Secondly, Arnold made me aware of their premium current account, where for just £20 a month, I can have breakdown cover with the AA, mobile phone and travel insurance. That works out at a total payment of £240 a year.
I told Arnold that I didn't really have any need for these services and didn't want to be paying a large amount of extra money for the privilege. Arnold responded with a well-rehearsed line about how replacing a stolen or damaged phone would cost hundreds of pounds. I informed him that I could quite easily pick up a new handset for £50 on PAYG if I wasn't looking for one with lots of bells and whistles.
Of course, this answer was wrong, Arnold not accepting that phones can be that cheap. Yet another ploy for me to feel like I must get mobile phone insurance via Lloyds TSB.
On doing research for this blog entry, I've just found out that you can join the AA for as little as £35. Travel insurance is approximately £30 per holiday, and Mobile phone insurance can be had for £2.50 per month.
Talk moved on to other bank accounts, I informed Arnold that I have savings with the Halifax. In an attempt to prove how poor the rate of interest is that I'm getting from the Halifax, Arnold tried to convince me that £20 interest on £1000 of savings is only 0.016%. I told Arnold that the interest rate was clearly 2%, but he was having none of it. If he's working out those sort of figures, then what on earth is he doing working in a bank? Of course, he came up with that figure so that I'd be horrified with the Halifax and transfer my money to Lloyds TSB the very same day!
Arnold then informed me of the 'monthly saver' that Lloyds TSB offer. I can get a whopping great 8% interest, however, this involves saving £250 per month for a whole year. If only we all had £250 spare at the end of each month. I wonder how much Arnold would have got paid as a bonus if I had agreed to that particular savings plan?
Next we came to discussing ISA's. I said I have been looking to start one with 'National Savings and Investments' as they pay a very good rate of interest.
Unsurprisingly, Arnold shot down my idea of opening an ISA with NS&I, by saying that having an ISA with Lloyds would be much more convenient and easier to manage.
He should do his homework, NS&I allow you to manage your ISA on the phone and on the internet, you can transfer money from the ISA to a nominated bank account electronically very quickly. Why would I wish to have a Lloyds TSB ISA which pays a much lower rate of interest compared to NS&I? Could it be that Arnold gets a nice bit of commission if I do take out a Lloyds TSB ISA?
Arnold was throwing all that he could at me, but I wasn't giving in, he seemed somewhat annoyed when I merely asked for his contact details and said that I'd get back to him about the Lloyds TSB ISA. I certainly won't be getting back to Arnold any time soon, I merely asked for his card as a way to end the meeting, as the only other way I would have been able to escape was if I were to have signed up to something that would make him money.
So, why have I taken the time to write this article? Simple really, to help make people aware of the hard selling tactics that these 'personal account managers' no doubt go through on a daily basis in order to gain themselves extra commission.
I felt rather bullied in this meeting, and very much under pressure to sign up for an additional service from Lloyds TSB. If I were a more brash person, I would have snatched back my 'paying in book', told him to "get stuffed" and marched out.
I fear that less intelligent people, those lacking assertiveness, and the elderly are very much at risk of being pressured into agreeing to changes to their accounts that they don't actually want or need.
My experience on Monday has certainly made me consider taking my money elsewhere, like the shoebox under my bed.
Hopefully, Google will pick up on this article, so when people type in 'Lloyds TSB Burgess Hill' into the search engine, this blog entry should appear somewhere near the top, and if I keep writing 'Lloyds TSB Burgess Hill' then I'm sure it will!
Posted by Burgess Hill Webteam at 12:17 AM