Business Banking – the good, the bad and the ugly

Inept, archaic and rude. Online business banking seems stuck in the past, says a frustrated David Lester. Here’s why he’s switching

I’m angry. Not enormously angry, but still pretty cross. It’s about the bank we use at citrusHR, which is one of the big brands.

I know that lots of people bash the banks these days, and often I am sympathetic to them.

Sure, the huge global investment banks which pay ridiculous salaries and bonuses to people who don’t take any personal risk annoys me, partly because many of us running small businesses are still paying the price for their excessive risk taking.

And yes, I am still annoyed that despite all the hot air from politicians after the banking crisis, bankers still earn vastly more than they should. But that’s all been said lots of times, and is not my point today.

Sub-standard business banking

Today I am utterly fed up with my regular business bank’s online banking service. It is archaic, very hard to use, and doesn’t work properly.

For example I can’t set up or even review my standing orders or direct debits on this system. What??? Why not? These are important banking services, and really should be part of the online banking service.

Worse still is the shocking telephone service they offer; there is a dedicated helpline for the online banking; it uses a terrible phone service which makes it hard to hear whoever you are talking to – and they are often  grumpy and unhelpful, and frequently rude.

Online banking is the norm, these days; most of us use it every day in our businesses. It simply has to be better than this. Yes, I understand that there is increasing cybercrime, so online banking has to have layers of security that most websites don’t need. But come on guys!

We’re almost in 2015, yet this online banking service feels like it belongs in 1998…

Heading for divorce

One of the last nails in the coffin of my relationship with the bank came while I was on holiday this summer. I got a phone call from one of my team to say that one our staff had not been paid; we had set up their pay to go through the same way we did for everyone else, and they had not changed their bank details – yet our unfortunate member of staff didn’t get their cash.

Getting paid is really important to everyone; we all get used to when money is coming in, and many of my team rely on that timing. So when it doesn’t come in on time, it really bothers them, and makes my company look bad. And it meant that I had to interrupt my holiday to sort out a new payment for this valued member of my staff.

Then last week several online banking cards were sent to us for employees who left over a year ago (and yes, we had told the bank that they had left). It turns out that they had lost the form I painstakingly sent in when the last employee left, supplying amended bank details.

We then mislaid one of the new cards we needed, so the bank helpfully agreed to send one out to us. Great. However the next time I went to log on to make a payments run online, my card (the old one, which was still in date) didn’t work.

It turned out that they had cancelled it, as well as the new one which we had lost. And as the new card had not yet arrived, I was unable to access our accounts online. I gave them the opportunity to reinstate the card which was still in date, but was told they couldn’t.

I won’t name the bank; I am not at all sure that any other banks are much better – do let me know if yours is great! I have made the decision to leave my current bank after the ridiculous chain of events above.

Most of us put up with a few bumps here and there, knowing that no organisation is ever perfect. But sometimes a business crosses a line and wipes out all the goodwill that had been built up over, in my case, 25 years of running my own businesses… so I intend to move to a bank which will give me a decent online banking service; the research starts now…

David Lester is the founder of employer support service citrusHR.


(will not be published)