Loyal savers are deserting NS&I as its customer service breakdown continues.
National Savings and Investments yesterday slashed rates for its 25 million customers.
But those trying to move their money are having to wait weeks as they struggle to navigate the bank’s new website or to speak to anyone about it on the telephone.
Rates cut: National Savings and Investments yesterday slashed rates for its 25m customers
Even savers who are keen to stay with the bank are being left baffled by requests for passwords they have no memory of ever setting up.
Money Mail last week reported how NS&I’s decision to stop sending Premium Bond cheques in the post had caused chaos as older customers struggled to set up online accounts or register bank details.
Now readers have written to us in droves to complain of poor service from the Government-backed bank.
Retired customer services manager Michael Pont has now given up on NS&I — despite holding a five‑figure sum in Premium Bonds since 2008.
The bank’s website instructed Michael, 78, to enter his Premium Bond holder’s number when he tried to set up an online account so he could manage his prize payments. However, it did not recognise the number.
Michael then tried to call NS&I, but gave up after he was warned he might have to wait up to an hour to speak to anyone there.
He has since downloaded a form from the bank’s website to cash in all of his bonds.
Escape bid: Saver Michael Pont has now given up on NS&I – despite holding a five‑figure sum in Premium Bonds since 2008
Michael, from Gillingham in Kent, says: ‘As someone who used to work in customer service, I will never go back to NS&I after it offered me no help whatsoever.’
Meanwhile, Veronica Howell, who has held £1,500 in Premium Bonds for 40 years, is also planning to cash in her savings.
The retired local government worker, from Aylburton, Gloucestershire, does not feel comfortable giving out her bank details and wants to keep receiving prize cheques in the post.
Veronica, 75, says: ‘I’m not going to be forced to do something that I don’t want to do just because it’s convenient for NS&I.’
The decision to stop sending Premium Bond prizes out by post was made to save paper. However, the bank’s Direct Isa customers are now discovering they cannot move their money online – ironically forcing them to fill in a form and put it in the post in a process that can take weeks.
Retired sales executive Ivor Moore, 86, was keen to move his cash quickly ahead of yesterday’s interest rate cut on NS&I Direct Isas from 0.9 per cent to 0.1 per cent.
The bank says it can take five working days to complete an Isa transfer from the time it receives the request.
NS&I’s decision to stop sending Premium Bond cheques in the post had caused chaos as older customers struggled to set up online accounts or register bank details
Ivor, from Surrey, says: ‘If there is too much of a delay then the current rate for the account I want to transfer to may no longer be available. It’s a disgrace.’
It comes as a survey by investment firm Hargreaves Lansdown found 60 per cent of savers would stay with the bank despite the rate cuts.
Widow Susan Morgan, 76, holds the maximum Premium Bond investment of £50,000, after buying her first in 2005.
But she spent a whole afternoon trying to set up an online account into which she could have her prize money paid.
The retired secretary, from Tonbridge, Kent, became confused when she was asked for a password. She was then told to call customer service, only to be cut off. She says: ‘I am so frustrated with NS&I. Most other websites allow you to reset a password quickly via email.’
Income Bond saver Lesley Steel, 73, was blocked from her account after failing a security question.
Lesley had about £32,000 in it, but wanted to withdraw her cash ahead of the interest-rate cut from 1.15 per cent to just 0.01 per cent.
Yet she endured a 75-minute phone call and ended up having to wait three days for a letter to confirm that her account had been suspended.
Lesley, from New Malden, South-West London, says: ‘I am so angry that the whole process took me so long.’
NS&I customers are now able to register their bank details online without creating a new account at nsandi.com/prize-options.
An NS&I spokesman apologised to savers, saying: ‘In some instances where customers cannot log in to the NS&I website, we require them to call us. ‘They may have to wait longer than usual, as we are currently experiencing extremely high call levels.’