Wednesday, April 29, 2009
I’ve had an account with ING Direct for many years. In better times they paid a decent amount of interest and were easy to work with.
A few years ago I took advantage of one of their new accounts and opened something called a Guaranteed Investment Account which promised to pay interest proportional to any rises in the FTSE index. Unfortunately, since I opened the account the stock market has done nothing but fall and my £500 has sat in the account doing absolutely nothing.
So I thought I would be better off closing the account and taking my money elsewhere. That’s when the problems started.
It appears that these accounts have two “exit windows” a year when you can close the account: Mar 31st and September 30th. Miss the window and you have to wait for the next one.
The procedure is that you need to call BEFORE the exit window to give notice that you want to close the account and then call again on the day to actually do it.
However, the staff taking the calls don’t know this and tell you to call on the day of the exit window only. If you do that, the person taking your call will attempt to close the account but it won’t work.
I was only told this a month after I asked for the account to be closed when I noticed that I still had money in the account. I was told by an extremely snooty and patronising woman who became very annoyed when I suggested that her staff had lied.
Anyway, here’s the letter of complaint that I have sent them. I’m posting it here in case anyone else is struggling to find a way to close their ING GIA account. You can see the procedure as it was related to me and you can have the complaints address.
Hopefully the letter isn’t too ranty but I was very annoyed about this:
Wednesday, 29 April 2009
Savings and mortgages
Re: Guaranteed Investment Account ######## / Customer number #########
I have a complaint regarding my Guaranteed Investment Account and the attempts I have made to close it.
Some months ago I decided that I wanted to close the account and remove the money. To that end, I called your customer services department and asked to close the account. I was told that I could only close the account on one of two exit windows per year and that the next one would be on March 31st.
I asked if I needed to give any sort of formal notice and I was told that I did not and that I had to call on the exit window to have the account closed. Actually, your operator changed her mind just before the end of the call and told me to call on March 30th but she did not explain why.
I made a note to call on March 30th to close the account. When I called on that date I was told that I would have to call again the following day on the date of the window. I did this and was told that the account would be closed and the £500 I have in the account would be made available to me.
I checked my account this morning, nearly a month later, and found that the account had not been closed.
I called customer services again. After a very lengthy series of button presses I eventually spoke to someone who noted that I had asked for the account to be closed and passed me on to someone else. He was the wrong person. He tried to put me through to someone who could help and, after a very long wait, I was eventually put through to a very patronising and unhelpful woman who informed me that I should have given notice before the exit window that I wish to close the account. She apologised that I had been misinformed but would offer me no further assistance.
This is disgraceful! You, and therefore your staff, have a moral obligation to give your customers information that is accurate and timely. To apologise and say that the information was incorrect is unacceptable. To to refuse to let me close the account now despite having done everything I had been told to do by YOUR staff is arrogant in the extreme.
I wanted to retrieve this money several months ago and now I cannot get at it until September at the earliest. Let me be clear now: I WANT TO BE ABLE TO CLOSE BOTH MY ACCOUNTS WITH YOU AS SOON AS I POSSIBLY CAN. If I need to give notice for whatever arbitrary exit window you have chosen then consider this letter as sufficient notice. I would prefer to have the money sooner than that. I consider it YOUR fault that I was not given the correct information about closing the account. I would have hoped that you would be more accommodating about this and let me close the account NOW. Please inform me if this is possible.
Assuming that this will not happen, I have made a note to call at the beginning of September to give notice again. If necessary I shall call every day in September to make sure that your people KNOW that I want to close the account.