Last year, many of you know, I was diagnosed with Cancer. This meant I was unable to work for much of the year. My husband also had to take quite a lot of time off work, unpaid, to look after me and the children. Unfortunately, I also wasn’t in a position to qualify for any benefits, so we ended up struggling financially and sinking further into debt. This kind of life event, causes a financial strain which lasts a few years and we are still struggling through it now.
Due to a few of my direct debits bouncing, my bank applied charges, as they always do. These charges soon snowballed, until the charges themselves were causing more charges or eating the money meant for other bills, which then also bounced.
As the charges began mounting up, I went to see one of the personal bankers at my local bank. We had a chat and he explained that Lloyds Bank will often help people in financial difficulty, especially in circumstances like mine. He cleared a few of my charges and promised he had “put a note on the system” to prevent any further charges from coming out. He told me to come back in if I have any more charges applied.
So I did… the charges that weren’t supposed to come out, did. I was then told that it was too late and they couldn’t refund any more for a whole year. That I needed to go into the bank BEFORE the charges were taken from my bank account, in order to have them removed.
So I did… I found myself returning to the bank, every month about charges, and every time I was promised that there was “a note on the system”, the charges were still taken from my account.
So I tried a different branch. Two more branches in fact. And in both, I was told that there weren’t ANY “notes on the system” and that nothing could be stopped or refunded.
One customer service assistant, even spent five minutes trying to sell me a loan. Clearly he hadn’t looked at my account, or he would have known I wasn’t eligible. The bank staff seem to constantly promise to help. They are always writing “notes on the system”, which magically disappear by my next visit. Nothing ever actually gets done.
I’m not saying it is my right to have these charges removed – but this was offered to me numerous times. I keep getting told that Lloyds are happy to help long serving customers who suddenly find themselves in financial difficulty. Their TV adverts state that they are “here to help”. Yet they seem to be full of empty promises and don’t ever actually… help! In fact, if I were to add up all the money I spent on petrol and parking to go to the bank every time this happens, I would probably be even more upset.
On my most recent visit, I was told by a very charming young man, that there’s a number I can call, and someone might be able to help me. A premium rate number. When I’ve just moved house and have no phone. Where people will still have no records of all the conversations in branch.
Between my Cancer diagnosis and now (1 year 8 months), I have been charged a whopping £635.00 by Lloyds Bank. To me, that is a huge amount of money. I’d almost go as far as to say a life changing amount of money – because that would pay off a big chunk of our debts.
I wish I could leave Lloyds Bank, but unfortunately I’m too far into my overdraft. I also bank with another high street bank, who I’ve never had a single problem with. They’ve been brilliant. I dread to think how much money Lloyds Bank have made out of me, in charges, in the TEN years I have been a customer.
It’s unfair of a bank, to offer help to a vulnerable customer and then not follow through with that help. To mess that customer around constantly for over a year. To take that amount of money, in charges. Especially a bank whose motto is “here to help”, when clearly they aren’t.
Just one day after writing this post I received a full apology from Lloyds Bank. They have stated that the service I received was not up to their usual standard. They investigated my case and refunded me all the charges that were taken from me, since 2011, due to seeing evidence of financial hardship on my account. I am very happy with their response and the politeness and professionalism in which the higher level management dealt with my complaint. It is a shame that it had to go this far in the first place, but I will now continue to bank with lloyds.