/ Money

Phone, online or in person – what’s the best way to bank?

Bank signs

Visiting your local bank branch to pay in a cheque is almost a thing of the past. Thanks to phone and online banking, we can now do most of our transactions at the touch of a button. But this isn’t free from problems…

Only last week NatWest was hit by a cyber-attack, leaving many of its customers unable to access their online accounts. The attack was the bank’s fourth online glitch in 18 months. And one of those glitches, which affected all of RBS and NatWest’s systems for three hours, happened on one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

Banks put you on hold

In many cases, technology can be more of a hindrance than a help.

Take phone banking as an example. The reliance on automated phone services and call centres on the other side of the world has often come at the cost of technical glitches and a poorer quality of service.

Do you get frustrated by not being able to speak with a person at the end of the line, being put on hold for hours, having to leave a message, or even worse, being cut off mid-call?

Or, if you do manage to get through, do you end up having a frustrating conversation with someone who struggles to understand your query, or do you simply get passed from one person to the next? And that’s even before you receive a huge phone bill due to your bank’s high rate phone number.

Technical bank glitches

Going online can be even worse, with the potential for system crashes, security breaches, or having to wait indefinitely for a response to your email.

Even for those who prefer to do their banking in person, there’s still the lengthy process of form filling, queuing in branch or having to travel to the next town because your local bank has closed down.

So, how do you do your banking? Do you find it easy to contact your bank and get the info you need? Which services leave a lot to be desired?

How do you like to do your banking? (multiple choice)

The bank's website (not live chat) (41%, 668 Votes)

In branch (31%, 509 Votes)

Phone (11%, 185 Votes)

Email (6%, 95 Votes)

Mobile App (5%, 75 Votes)

Letter (4%, 60 Votes)

Live online chat (2%, 29 Votes)

Other - tell us in the comments (1%, 16 Votes)

Social media (0%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,001

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Comments
Profile photo of Lee Beaumont
Member

Most of my banking I can do online (like most people). I never use telephone banking. If I want to ask them something I will DM them on Twitter and get them to call me. Or if its about my account I will send them a e-mail via my online banking.

I moved to the Nationwide in June of last year and I’ve never been to visit my branch yet. Just no point as it can all be done via other ways.

One thing that does make me angry tho are annoying Cheque’s. But these I pop them in a envelope and post them to my bank. Recorded delivery to be safe.

I have heard about a app where we can take a photo of the Cheque and send the photo to our bank online. Hope we are able to get that here in the UK as that would help so much.

Profile photo of william
Member

“I have heard about an app where we can take a photo of the Cheque and send the photo to our bank online” – Ever heard of photoshop ?

Profile photo of Lee Beaumont
Member

Yes I have heard of photoshop. But lets be real here, no-one would get away with something silly like that.

Profile photo of william
Member

Some people don’t fear being caught and fear the punishment even less.

And if seems alot easier than trying to attach a scanner to a cashpoint.

On a serious note, this just seems like an easy way for banks to hasten the demise of cheques.

Profile photo of Lee Beaumont
Member

I agree with the demise of cheques. I know most people on Which? wont agree with me on that too tbh.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

I use online for most transactions, plus a visit to my local branch occasionally to pay in cheques and withdraw cash. Never had a hitch with online – great for transferring money between accounts, or to another person, at any time of the day or night – it’s quick ,simple and seems secure – and checking on balances and transactions when you want, not waiting a month for your statement. The branch is personal, helpful and friendly. I don’t see the need for telephone banking if you can use online, but good if you can’t.
I am a fan of cheques – I cannot see how they could be sensibly replaced for some transactions – but would worry about scanning them to pay them in as it seems like another way to let the fraudsters con us.

Member
Phil says:
4 January 2014

There are, believe it or not, still some businesses that don’t take plastic or who charge extra for the privilege. When I had my boiler serviced last year the guy couldn’t take the cash I’d withdrawn as he didn’t have any change and couldn’t get a signal on his mobile card reader so a cheque it had to be.

Cheques aren’t dead and gone yet.

Member
mermaid says:
5 January 2014

I am old-fashioned and like to visit my bank in person, but accept this is partly because my branch is convenient and I have time to do so. The staff are friendly and sometimes have time to chat to their customers . I sometimes use an ATM but have had a couple of problems so prefer to go inside the bank. I don’t have or want the technology to use a mobile phone for banking. I have had on-line savings accounts at times but don’t feel comfortable with them. I still find cheques convenient for a lot of transactions.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

I used telephone banking since National Westminster started to promote it, but switched to online banking a few years ago. I have not had any problems and prefer to use online transfers whenever possible.

Although my branch is only two miles from where I live, I visit it mainly to pay in cheques. I put them in an envelope with paying-in slips and pop them in the letterbox. The bank is at a busy junction, so I park at a supermarket nearby.

Cash dispensers don’t have to be at banks, so those that encourage people to park in silly places should be relocated to more sensible locations. I am very glad that banks often provide cash dispensers at supermarkets.

Profile photo of NFH
Member

I wonder how much petrol you waste in order to pay in cheques. If someone chooses to pay me by cheque, then they should pay the additional costs of paying in the cheque, not me.

The thing I really hate about cheques is the additional hassle and expense that the payer selfishly imposes upon the payee.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

I don’t waste any fuel at all because the cheques can wait until I am next passing the bank.

The cheques that annoy me is the ones that I receive on behalf of the charity I work for. Over the years, it has cost me a fair amount in postage forwarding them to our treasurer. Now that the cost of postage has risen so much, I accumulate the cheques and pass them on by hand whenever we meet.

As I have explained before, cheques are vital to vital for charities. I would rather have to deal with a few cheques rather than a couple of hundreds of pounds in notes and coins. I am not aware of electronic systems that would be suitable for collecting payment at a village fete or at the end of a trip.

I am very much in favour of using online transactions where practical and encouraging others to do the same.

Profile photo of NFH
Member

Systems like Barclays Pingit are suitable for collecting micro-payments at point of sale, such as at a village fête. Unlike debit and credit cards, it’s free, although I’m not sure how Barclays monetise it.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

Thanks NFH. I will keep an eye on this.

Profile photo of banjo
Member

There are plenty of high street shops who have limits on plastic. Poundland have a £5 minimum spend on debit cards and refuse credit cards altogether. Cheques also have their place. I don’t want to see them vanish.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

There is often a £5 limit for card transactions too.

I wonder if contactless cards is the way forward for small transactions. At one time I was very concerned about security, but many people I know have used these cards without a problem. The transaction limit is £20, I believe, but I would be happier if there was also a daily limit in case the card was stolen.

Profile photo of Figgerty
Member

I visit a bank branch less than once a year and get most of my casual spending money as cashback at the supermarket.

For the past ten years I have used Telephone Banking with First Direct and have been totally satisfied with their excellent service. In the middle of last year I decided to try their Internet Banking and have only found one problem with it – remembering the password and security questions. My memory is diabolical mainly because of medication I have to take and it’s not helped by slowly advancing years. I also have a couple of Internet Savings Accounts and have to try and remember their security questions as well. I feel my blood pressure rising as I try to remember the correct password.

Cheques are very useful when sending my nieces and nephews their Christmas and Birthday presents. They can then use the money to buy exactly what they want or save it for their future. I don’t know what I would do if cheques were abolished.

I hope I’m not showing my stupidity by asking this question: Which of the Poll options applies to straightforward Internet Banking accessed via a Browser not a Mobile App?

Profile photo of richard
Member

I bank with First Direct – Changed to FD when Midland refused to give me a charges break down on line years ago – They are fantastic on-line- real local people to talk to IN ENGLISH on line – cheques are no problem – pop them in the post (twice a year?)- Will not change unless First Direct changes – can check balances DAILY if required. Email contact fantastic – charges effectively free with an agreed balance. Tried others far worse – I am a very satisfied customer.

Profile photo of william
Member

I have one issue with First Direct, I wish they’d stop offering £100 to attract new customers whilst only offering understanding service to existing ones.

I have noticed that they do take longer to answer the phones than 15 years ago. I wonder if there’s a correlation?

Profile photo of richard
Member

As other Banks are far worse in enticements – I won’t list them – but they are MANY – I really don;t have a problem – I have not noticed any delay with telephone calls – so it must be the time you call. For me First Direct is Brilliant – I think that’s why FD is so poular

Profile photo of richard
Member

Forgot to add – I can pay cheques in fee free into the local Bank Branch any time I like – brilliant service

Profile photo of william
Member

I use a boring old web browser to do 98% of my banking online. Strange that’s not one of the listed optoins.

I’ll save cheques until I go near a bank which is about never these days.

I’ll get cash by using a cashpoint outside a supermarket.

Profile photo of richard
Member

OOps Error

Profile photo of Patrick Steen
Member

I’ve added that option now William.

Profile photo of lubomir
Member

I do almost all my banking online but visit a branch to make deposits.
I like using online but check regularly to ensure all is well but I do like the security of having a branch to visit as technology isn’t always 100% reliable as recent events prove.

Profile photo of wincey
Member

It seems to me that all the above comments indicate that banking is a clear area of ‘horse for courses’. We all have different needs, requirements and preferences and the more of these that can be met the better for all. I recently changed banks and one of the reasons for doing so was that my new bank has a branch close to where we regularly shop. With advancing years, more complex and expensive technology, increasing parking telephone and postage fees and clogged up streets, making life simpler is a priority!

Member
Er Indoors says:
2 February 2014

My husband and I no longer drive, and it is not easy to get to our Co-op and TSB bank branches, so we do most of our banking at the local village Post Office.

I pay bills and make money transfers on line.

Any queries are dealt with on the phone.

So far this system is working very well for us.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

I am a regular user of online banking . However it can be a real problem if you are not savvy about computers. I recently tried to log in using Internet Explorer 9 as usual, but although the home page came up, the log in page “could not be displayed”. Fortunately I could log in through Google Chrome and asked my building society what the problem was. They replied very promptly with a check list on my IE browser settings. Under advanced settings in “security” one box – use TLS 1.0 – was unchecked; checking it put matters right. I assume at some point running a scan had altered the setting?