/ Money

Have you been able to get through to your bank?

How’s your bank been dealing with the coronavirus pandemic? Do you have the support you need? The Which? Money Helpline wants to hear your experiences.

The UK was put into lockdown on the 23 March in an unprecedented step to attempt to limit the spread of coronavirus.

This led to a very significant increase in call volumes to banks with many customers needing to arrange payment holidays on lending, overdraft extensions and make urgent transfers to cover important bills.

Read all the latest COVID-19 news and advice on our dedicated hub

Whilst this was very frustrating, most people could understand why call centres were suddenly so busy. 

Six weeks later, as one of the Money Experts on the Which? Money Helpline, some banks are still keeping their customers on hold for well over an hour.

I recently spoke with a caller who had been trying to get hold of their bank for an hour and a half – she eventually hung up in despair.

As she had tried many times before, she went to make a complaint using the bank’s online tool and found that she couldn’t even do that as the email kept bouncing back.

She was only able to resolve her issues by visiting her local branch and potentially putting herself at risk of being exposed to the virus.

How is it for you?

How do you think your bank has dealt with the pandemic? Is it giving you the support you need and good customer service?

A guide to banking during lockdown

We’re keen to hear your experiences of trying to speak to someone, or visiting your local branch.

Maybe this is the first time that you have stepped inside a branch – was it well-managed? Was social distancing being observed?

Have you waited on hold on the phone for ages or struggled to contact your bank by email or online?

Helping our members

Did you know about Which? Money Helpline? It’s staffed by financial experts with more than 100 years’ experience in the financial services industry between them.

Members can ask us questions about a range of personal finance subjects, and there are no limits to the number of calls you and your family can make, or the length of time you can spend talking to us.

What the Which? Money Helpline can help you with
  • Banking
  • Borrowing – credit cards and loans
  • Car, home and travel insurance
  • Equity release
  • Investments
  • Long-term care
  • Mortgages
  • Pensions
  • Protection insurance
  • Savings and Isas
  • Tax
  • Wills/probate/trusts

(We do not offer regulated financial advice).

Which? members can call the helpline on 029 2267 0001.

david hoyle says:
20 May 2020

Attempted to call barclays bank, gave up after 1 hour 29 minutes. tried several times over a three day period. finally got through at 4 th attempt………after two months to rectify these problems,there really is no excuse. i fear this will now become the norm.

R hacker says:
20 May 2020

Fryer to get money out my Halifax account said they were open when I went up they said you would have to transfer money to my current account and use the cash machine I do not use cash machine s were of time they might as well be shut will be closing my account

Deborah Kay says:
21 May 2020

Needed to contact Yorkshire Building Society – phoned the number – thinking I would not be able to speak to an individual at all – or be in a very long queue…. Got straight through – Josh at the Halesowen branch completely understood my needs and emailed me relevant forms to undergo an account change, which were received within minutes….
Excellent customer service in a time where nothing is straightforward. 10/10

Eric Youd says:
21 May 2020

The cooperative bank have been brilliant patient and helpful and not too long to wait.

Richard says:
21 May 2020

Coventry, Tandem both excellent with both short wait times and effective response. Santander messenger system worked fine for me and gave me the answer I needed. The following internal account switch was quick and simple so big plus to them.

Still trying after a fortnight to get access to online banking sorted at HSBC. Telephone banking works but can’t get beyond that. Can online chat ok but agents have very limited account access so have to use phone and wait forever. They say make an appointment for local branch BUT their system won’t allow it at this time for non-critical issues!!
HSBC were the most unhelpful brand even before Coronavirus now night on impossible.

If you have a modern phone (one still receiving security updates) you could look at mobile banking as an alternative, Graham, at least until the problem is resolved. Being a novice user of online banking I am wary about using it but years ago I was equally concerned about using online banking.

I use my pc for online banking and other financial transactions. I’ve never yet found the need to use a mobile phone for this.

I was trying to help Graham, who cannot access online banking at present. You said recently that you had a Galaxy S4 and I don’t think Samsung provides security updates for a phone of that age.

I will a use PC – especially my ChromeBook – for online banking but I now mostly use my Android mobile instead.

This means I now trust the security built in to the mobile app and I prefer the convenience of using an “always on” device that I’ll usually have close at hand, as opposed to a laptop or PC that I may have to start up specially.

I have a separated dedicated Linux PC for accessing FaceBook and, if so required, other internet services of ill repute. I don’t want any such servces getting anywhere near any of my main devices.

I also have an S7 that I rarely use for particular reasons. The point I was making was I have not found any reason (so far) to use a mobile for banking.

But then, I used a road atlas before I was bought a TomTom.

Paul says:
22 May 2020

Getting through to Barclays by phone has been all but impossible in the last few weeks. I have waited on the phone for over 1 hour on a number of occasions, with no idea of where I am in the queue or how much longer the wait will be. So disappointed in their service.

Paul – Barclays Bank’s ‘disappointing service’ might genuinely be because (a) there is a much higher level of traffic on their customer services telephone operation at present, and (b) because a large number of staff are, rightly, absent. The two combined probably reduce efficiency to 30% of the normal standard. I agree it is very frustrating, but for once I feel that we have to bear with them.

Valerie Kitchen says:
23 May 2020

I think the banks, predictably, have behaved appallingly. They have cut their opening hours, and cut down on counter services, whilst all taking TV adverts to tell us how much they are helping! My bank refused to do a bank transfer for me to pay a bill. They told me to do it by phone. I don’t do online banking. This pandemic must be like manna from heaven for the banks as under the guise of ‘helping’ their customers they can advance their policy of getting rid of cash, forcing us all to go online, and shutting as many branches as they can. I think the government should insist that not only do people have a payment holiday on loans and mortgages, but interest is dropped to the same rate as savers are getting. I think the business loans the government has offered to struggling businesses should also be low interest. Why on earth shouldn’t banks take a hit to their profit like so many hard working businesses? As I write this I can hear the howls of protest from the money establishment!

Roy Roach says:
25 May 2020

Had a holiday cancelled as the company entered administration. Contacted the customer services of my credit card (Marks and Spencer). Absolutely no use. I think at the very least they should be trained and advised to inform customers of the procedure to make a claim under S75 of consumer credit act rather than just give you another number (which by the way is not shown anywhere on their website). Now got to get in to another telephone queue. This is so frustrating. Might even look at other credit card providers.

Mark Ingram says:
8 June 2020

Couldn’t get refund of holiday initially after many attempts with travel agent. So went s75 with bank. Told it would take 45 days and no way to follow up. Eventually travel company refunded me after 6 weeks. Then to my astonishment the bank refunded me as well. Still no way to get hold of bank to advise them claim was settled.
What to do?

Mark – You could post a cheque to your bank with a brief explanation.