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KARL | 19:37 Sun 09th Sep 2012 | Business & Finance
4 Answers
I have an account with them that started out as an Abbey National account. At one stage I decided to get internet banking with Santander and their procedure (at least then) involves getting two separate things through the post after you fill in an application at a branch. In my case only one arrived so the whole process had to be re-initiated from the beginning. The same thing happened again, except it was the other thing alone that arrived this time. By this stage the attempts had taken some five weeks, from memory. I gave up.

Two weeks ago or so I was abroad and someone I know set up his internet banking there at his branch of a local bank, I was there and intensely interested in how it would go. It took just under ten minutes to complete the lot, including getting a random number generator for use each time he logs on (Nationwide are one of the few UK institutions using such a thing in the UK) - this is the best security currently available, I believe.

Then just now I was booking some travel online and decided to use my Santander debit card. The last part of the procedure consisted of entering characters from a password. I entered the correct ones (for good measure I have the password written down, I need it only very rarely) but each time it was rejected because I supposedly got it wrong (no I didn't). Not to worry, a facility exists to reset the password so I tried to do that - entering the password that kept being rejected. Back came Santander's reply "You have already used this password - rejected and system barred". I of course used another bank's card instead.

Why are UK banks so difficult ? Why do Santander have such a monumental problem with their own technology ? I suppose I should be pleased that they have not yet denied they have my money.


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I think you have hit the nail on the head in the first line. English institutions were fine till they adopted foreign names, when things start to go tits up. I opened an account with the Midland Bank in 1970 and had no problem for the first 30 years till they decided to call themselves HSBC.
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I had a chat about this with a member of Santander staff who told me that the card security check I described above (third paragraph) is in fact a Visa concoction - Verified by Visa - and strictly speaking nothing to do with Santander as such. She added that she has had endless problems with this check and wishes she could unsubscribe from it (but you can't, short of dumping the card).

As my second paragraph above indicates, I would personally wish English institutions were more like foreign ones because I think they are so often superior. As for banks in particular, I am aware that outside the UK British banking practices are a byword for rigidity and poor service. Abbey National could never be described as slick. But things seem to be improving - just today I was at a bank which had shut me out of the internet banking because I have not used it for almost three years. I was completely re-registered in less than 15 minutes with nothing further required and I have consequently accessed my accounts. This was of course not Santander.
May I suggest that, if Santander are as bad as you say (and all the satisfaction surveys say they are), then you do something about it? Move your account to another provider with a good customer attitude - Co-op Bank, Smile, First Direct etc.

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