Barclays Bank policy of silence. A credit card fraud story.
Once upon a time in Portugal there was this big international bank, the Barclays Bank. And there was this Client, Pedro. Although a low budget Client, living in a place where Barclays Bank is frequently understood as a "elite bank", Pedro has been a loyal Client for the last 14 or 15 years. He grow up with his Barclays account that was his mother (also a Client) birthday gift many years ago.
The Client and the Bank
As he was getting older, Pedro went promoting his bank. "It's a great bank, the most beautiful blue in the world...". One personal account, some financial applications, debit cards, credit cards, a personal loan, a mortgage loan... Well, a life. Pedro is a employee in another international bank but Barclays Bank has always been his bank.
Then, one day Pedro was preparing for a trip to London and he checked his Barclays homebanking service. He saw some strange debits and saw that someone had made some movements in his Barclays credit card account. Pedro was a victim of a credit card fraud.
Isn't it a modern bank? Why don't they answer their calls?
No panic. Pedro is an Internet guy. He lives from it and almost for it. He believes in technology. "I'll contact my account manager and she will take care of this" he thought. But nobody answered the phone in the branch. Pedro called 3 times and 3 times he was told by the call-center that they would send a message for the branch so that anyone contact him. It was urgent. The credit card must be canceled and only his manager can do it. Nothing, nada.
Good looking girls are not the same as good account managers.
Pedro grabbed a taxi and there he went, to the branch in the other side of town. When he arrived he saw that blond, near the door, having a smoke. "Good morning" he said. On the inside, he asked for his manager and someone told him "she'll be back in a moment. Please, seat in there and wait a minute.". The minute passed by and also five more.
Another manager in the branch told one of the cashiers "Go outside and call X. Tell her that there is a Client here". The cashier went outside and returned with a smile: "My colleague will be back here in a moment...". Pedro looked outside and saw the blond... Keep on smoking...
This is not the Barclays Bank I knew - he thought - is this my bank?
The blond came inside, presenting herself as his new account manager. "So, what brings you here?". Sad, disappointed for her not knowing what was going on, Pedro told her the story. Someone had made some movements with his credit card in the other side of the ocean. Now, he was not very worried. He knew it is a usual situation in our days so, he asked for the credit card cancellation, that they put back the money they already took from his account and, a new credit card as soon as possible.
How the image of an institution goes down in 60 minutes.
After one hour of disappointment, one after another (how could it be that his account manager didn't know how to handle this situation? She didn't knew that, by law in that country, all the credit cards should have an insurance associated for this kind of situations. She didn't knew how to, in their own Intranet system, declare a fraud...), Pedro told her that he was leaving the country for some days and he was counting on having the situation resolved on arrival.
One week later, no contact from Barclays Bank. No letter, no phone, no e-mail. Nothing. Was it possible that Barclays Bank took so long to take care of this situation?
Pedro contacted the branch again, this time with the contact form in the homebanking service. No reply. Next day, a new e-mail and this time, a little more concerned and not very satisfied. This is the digital age after all. A bank should reply to an e-mail in 24 hours.
The manager called Pedro that afternoon asking him why the hell was he so mad. Pedro explained her that he had some commitments on his Barclays Bank account. He should have his situation resolved. And what did she told him? To put his credit card charge on 10% so that the Barclays Credit Card Division would not take him so much money at once. How is this possible?
Barclays Policy of Silence
After this date, Pedro tried to reach the manager for several times without any success. In the branch she was never available as nobody else. Pedro asked the call-center, several times, to leave a message in the system so that someone in the branch would contact him. Nothing. He asked for the branch senior manager. Nothing. Nobody replied to my calls.
Then a call from his account manager. She told him that, as his account manager she had accomplished her mission that was, sending the situation for the Credit Card division. Pedro had to explain her that as his account manager, her mission was much more than that.
Pedro also told her that, a month after asking for a new Credit Card, the only thing he had received was a letter telling him that Barclays Bank decided to cancel his Credit Card over misuse. How could this be?
Some days later, still with no answer from Barclays Bank, Pedro tried to call the branch again. Once again, the call-center tried all the phone lines and nobody answered. Once again he grabbed a taxi and went to the branch. At arrival there is one single Client in there and nobody was at the phone. So, why didn't nobody called him?
And again. He is a Credit Card fraud victim. Take care of it!
Pedro explained the situation all over again to another Barclays account manager. As it seems, in Barclays nobody knows anything about a subject in another employee hands. Even if the other employee is away... Pedro told the new account manager that he knew the insurance company is waiting for a answer from Barclays Bank to pay the insurance. for some days then. how he knew that? It doesn't matter. He knew. She don't. The only thing she knew was that she already had a Client with a Credit Card problem and it took six months to get it resolved.
He asked again for the Credit Card that he requested for. Is there a request for it in the system? She said no. Why? She didn't knew.
So Pedro had enough. He went back home and decided to complaint writing to the Customer Relations service. As they say in their site, the Customer Relations service will reply to his complaint in 5 working days, solving the problem or at least, giving him a status of the situation. And so he did it.
4 days later he received an e-mail from Barclays Customer Relations service telling him that the complaint he sent was received and that the situation is in analysis... Well, this was not a status of the situation. This was just an automated reply to accomplish the goal of the 5 working days publicized in their website.
Going for the web.
Some days lateri Pedro took some time to write about all this in his blog. And two days latter he had a comment from someone that identified himself as a Barclays Bank Employee, saying that the situation was presented to the Barclays Bank International Customer Relations service. He apologized for all the situation and promised a contact as soon as possible.
Almost another month has passed and nothing. Total silence seems to be Barclays Bank policy. Pedro posted several more articles in his blog. A lot of Portuguese blogs are linking the story now. Personal and almost unknown blogs as well as some influential and known ones. But Barclays Bank keeps on silence.
Pedro has received a message in his cellular phone from Barclays Bank International saying that the situation was escalated for the Barclays Premier Support. Even so, nothing. He contacted again and again the Customer Relations service and nothing. No reply. Pedro went to Barclays International website and used the forms to report the situation. He had the typical e-mail back saying that he will be contacted soon... How soon is soon?
Nobody rules on the bank relation with the Client?
He reported the situation to Banco de Portugal as this one is the maximum ruler of financial activity in Portugal. Also from Banco de Portugal nobody reply to his complaints.
This is starting to be a very sensible situation. Pedro's personal loan goes to be billed every 14 of each month and, as a suggestion from his own account manager. Pedro stopped putting money on that account. Well, with no money in the account the loan cannot be payed and Banco de Portugal must be warned about this debt.
Pedro is employed in a bank and as such, he cannot have any warning regarding debts in Banco de Portugal, taking the risk of being fired with a just cause. He warned Barclays Bank about that subject. No reply at all. What more can he do?
Yes, once upon a time in Portugal there was this big, international bank. The Barclays Bank. A real symbol of the British way of doing business, a right way. A professional way. And yes, once upon a time there was this Client, Pedro. That was a victim of a credit card fraud. And he believed that his bank, Barclays Bank, would take care of the situation...