/ Money

Have you struggled to get your hands on Pensioner Bonds?

Pensioner Bonds were released to great fanfare earlier this month, but the launch appears to have been anything but smooth. Have you managed to get your hands on some or have you encountered issues?

Thousands of over-65s have invested savings in these market-leading National Savings & Investments products, but many more have encountered all sorts of problems.

Our Money Helpline has been flooded with complaints from Which? members unable to get through to NS&I to order these bonds.

Meanwhile, other investors have reported being charged despite the NS&I website failing to confirm their purchase.

Have you experienced any struggles trying to get your hands on pensioner bonds?

Telephone troubles

The NS&I 24-hour helpline appears to have been jammed with calls ever since Pensioner Bonds were released a couple of weeks ago.

A caller to our Money Helpline said they’d tried to get through from 7am to midnight without any luck.

Another would-be investor told The Sunday Times he had waited for 122 minutes from 2am, listening to a recorded voice telling him that NS&I were working hard to minimise the delay.

One caller who did get through told the newspaper they had carefully timed their call to coincide with the broadcast of The Last Tango in Halifax because she thought a lot of older people would be tuned in.

With only a limited amount of pensioner bonds available, there’s a danger that only the most persistent callers will cash in.

Website worries

The NS&I website seems to be just as troublesome. It crashed due to excessive traffic on the morning that Pensioner Bonds were released.

Now, reports are suggesting that customers are having their money taken without any confirmation of their investment being offered.

Have you experienced this problem – or any other frustrations – while trying to get your hands on these government-backed bonds?

Comments
Member

We tried online a number of times on the first day and failed to get online. The following Sunday afternoon we tried again and successfully completed our purchase with no hold ups.

Member

Waited till Sunday 18th to try on-line. Completed without any problem, though it was a bit of a long-winded process. Money taken from my a/c same day or next. Letter arrived a few days later asking for a specimen signature, sent back the same day. Now waiting to see what happens next.

Member

Update : Received confirmation email on Saturday 31st Jan, and letter with NS&I number arrived Wednesday 4th Feb. Logged in today and all seems OK. Initial investment date is Sunday 18th Jan, ie. date of online application.

Member

I checked the nsandi website at 5:30 am on 15th January and saw that the bonds were on sale. Phoned at 6:00 and got straight through. Bought bonds, everything done in 5 minutes, and certificate received.

Member

Problems with the launch of Pensioner Bonds were also raised in parliament. Both MPs and Peers asked questions and received written answers.

On 26 January 2015, Sammy Wilson MP asked: “how many complaints [have been] received concerning the inability of people who have applied for pensioner bonds to have their applications dealt with owing to breakdowns in the website of the agency handling the sale.

Andrea Leadsom answered (on 3 February):
“The 65+ “Pensioner” Bond launch has had the biggest opening sales of any retail financial product in Britain’s modern history. In advance of the launch NS&I doubled the size of their call centres, and have now added further staff to help manage the high call volumes. National Savings & Investment’s website is operating normally. This remains the easiest route by which to invest and provides immediate assurance that an application has been received. Customers can also invest by making a postal application. NS&I publish six monthly total complaint data on nsandi.com.”

Also on 26 January, Lord Naseby tabled a similar question in the House of Lords:
“To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will undertake a review of the difficulties experienced at the launch of National Savings and Investments pensioner bonds with particular attention to the failure of the website.”

It was answered by Lord Deighton on 9 February:
“The introduction of the 65+ “Pensioner” Bond has seen the biggest sale of any retail financial product in Britain’s modern history, with over £7.5 billion sold to date. Demand in the first few days was exceptionally high but tens of thousands of savers did successfully purchase bonds during this period, and hundreds of thousands have done so since. National Savings & Investments (NS&I) was quick to respond to the issues faced by some customers in the opening days, for example by adding further call centre staff to manage the high volume of calls. The website is now fully operational, calls are being answered with minimal waiting times, and NS&I now have the capacity to field remaining demand pressures.

“Following this unprecedented demand, the government has also extended the availability of the bonds up to 15 May, to ensure all pensioners aged 65 and over who want to benefit from these bonds will have time to do so.

“Low interest rates have played an important part in stimulating the recovery. But there are those – especially pensioners – who rely on a reasonable rate of interest on their savings. These new savings bonds pay a market leading rate and are designed to help support those who rely on their savings in retirement.”

Member
Champers says:
27 February 2015

My wife and I spent 45 minutes applying online,- a very long drawn out and tedious process. Immediate confirmation came by Email, but when a letter arrived a few days late asking me for my signature and proof of identity and address, they had recorded my name totally incorrectly.

I sent what they asked for by return post, with a covering letter explaining their error. The next thing I got was the return of my documents and a letter advising they could not accept our application. Our money would be refunded soon after the original deadline of 23rd February.

I was annoyed, and rang them up, and they immediately admitted the fault, and directed me to Customer Services. CS also readily admitted the error, and were clearly prepared, because immediately he dictated a brief and concise letter to me that I should send, headed URGENT INTERNAL RE-ADJUSTMENT.

The inference of all this was that they would correct the error, the purchase would be completed, and my Bond documentation would follow.

Instead, today I have found the money refunded back into my account, and no Bond. I’m gutted!!

Member

They are not Pensioner Bonds, they are over 65 s Bonds. I am a pensioner ( 62.5) but will have to wait 2.5 years before I can buy them

Member
Sarah B says:
29 May 2015

Had all sorts of problems applying for my mother (through a PoA: slightly odd requirements on NS&I’s part, non-reading of covering letter etc). Gave up eventually, but told I could make a complaint. However, that would take a further 20 mins to half an hour on the phone, and there was no online facility I could use. Arranged time which I could find, with person on phone – who then didn’t ring me at that time. It’s hard enough trying to help someone with dementia without having to deal with this sort of thing.