Thursday, 11 October 2012

Banks Tell Customers Last

Bailing out (of) the UK
Two days ago it was all over the national media that ING Direct UK's savings and mortgage business had been sold to Barclays, with the actual transfer to occur in Q2 2013. Yesterday, the media were telling us what it means for customers. Yet only this morning do I receive the self-centred email from ING Direct UK (extract below). I'm not suggesting that we customers should get the information ahead of the stock market (if it's price sensitive). But I think we should've been among the first to know directly, rather than being told by the national media. 

Of course, the note also reveals that the bank views its customers as just a bunch of financial assets, and that the deal is a huge blow to competition and innovation in the retail banking market. The first three paragraphs blather on about the wisdom of ING slimming down and how the business "is a good fit" with Barclays millions of other customers. This makes us feel so special. Then, as an afterthought, they add the weazily statement that "there will be no immediate effect on the services you currently receive." Weazle word: "immediate". As in, "get your money out immediately." If I'd wanted to save with Barclays, I'd have followed the 15 million other sheep long ago. My old Egg credit card got bought by Barclays and that experience hasn't been warmly personal either. Time to switch.

"We wanted to let you know directly that it has been announced that ING Direct N.V has entered into an agreement with Barclays to acquire ING Direct UK’s savings and mortgage business.

This decision is a result of ING Group’s continued evaluation of its portfolio of businesses, in line with its stated objectives of sharpening its focus and streamlining the group. It is expected that the actual transfer of ING Direct UK’s savings and mortgage business will take place during the second quarter of 2013.

ING Direct UK is a good fit with Barclays existing UK Retail Banking Business that looks after more than 15 million personal and 700,000 business customers in the UK. With a network of around 1600 branches in the UK, customers can bank in person, over the phone, online and through mobile applications. Barclays look forward to continuing to provide a secure home for your savings and/or mortgage in the future.

There will be no immediate effect on the services you currently receive."
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