I've been with the Co-Operative bank for a long time now, possibly as long as I've ever stayed with any bank. I've been with the big banks, Natwest, Halifax, even Santander, with me feeling a little dishevelled with those banks, mainly due to the fact that when it came to talking to their customer services, about one thing or another, I ended up more confused after ending the call.
But not with my time at the good old fashioned Co-Op.
I know the Co-operative are under a lot of pressure with all the hassles they are involved in, but I'm not here to talk about that. I'm here to tell you why, if you're after a simply bank account that accepts Direct Debits, online banking, telephone banking and more, then the Co-operative is the bank to seriously think about.
Over the years I've been with them I've had no problem with them. Well, once or twice there has been a problem with me accessing my account via my bank card, but I've had those same issues with other banks, so there's nothing new with that. But with the co-operative if there is a slight error somewhere they are quick to sort it out.
The many times I have had to contact the co-operative bank my calls are answered straight away and, if necessary, my call is transferred to a person who can help me with what my problem is.
For example, I paid a 'bill' which, on first attempt, after inputting the necessary security questions, declined the payment. I then tried again, which was successful. I then checked my bank account and saw that the 'bill' had been paid twice, which was a large chunk out of my meagre wage. So, I contacted the co-operative, explained the situation and the lady, (who spoke perfect English as the banks call centres are in the UK), cancelled one of the payments there and then.
I could tell you more about the way that the call centre staff are professional in what they do, making sure that they do the best they can in order to rectify the matter, but I'd run out of words.
So, I'll just say that I can't see me changing from the co-operative bank in a hurry, (unless they suddenly go belly up), as I have had no bad experience with them during the years I've been with them. And the times I have had to call them I get to speak to someone that not only can I understand but can understand me. Unlike other banks I've been with. I mean, there's noting more annoying when calling a bank than having to repeat yourself or asking for them to repeat their selves....
I have been with The Co-operative Bank for nearly two and a half years and as with most banks they do have good and bad points. I will start by saying that I am not in financial trouble, nor do I get bank charges regularly.
First of all the call centres are all UK based, and the staff members know what they are doing. I have never contacted them and not felt confident in their ability.
They are opening more and more branches across the country making it much easier (than when I joined them) to go and see they.
They have a fantastic ethical policy and still have the Co-operative Group as the main shareholder.
I feel they have kept me updated with every change along the way, and can trust them to be honest with me about what is happening.
I have had one bank charge for going overdrawn and it was waived because I hadn't done anything like that before.
Their security systems makes me feel secure
This is little and niggly but it has to be said. They cannot stop paper statements. I would not be so bothered if the statements were monthly, but they come every 25 transactions and that cannot be changed. I get a statement every week as a result.
There internet banking has taken some time to get to the same levels as other bank so it is now getting there.
Long winded phone options when you call - but then again this happens with all banks.
I really like my bank, I just wish a few things were ironed out and they talked about their ethical stance more . The Co-operative have had some hard times but they are getting back on their feet and I expect these little changes will be made in time.
I have banked with Co-operative for over 10 years. I started off with the junior account and then upgraded to the full current account. I then recently upgraded to the Current Account Plus which has a 200 pound overdraft, but you have to pay in 800 pounds a month to qualify. I also hold a Cash ISA and a savings account with the Co-operative. I'm really impressed with the range of accounts available through Co-operative and the information that I get given in the branch about my options for accounts.
I manage my accounts online and the online banking is so handy and easy to use, I love it! For people who like to bank online I would really recommend Co-operative. You can see all your accounts at once and also see your past statements and recent items. You can also transfer money between your accounts and to other people, set up direct debits etc.
My local branch has friendly and approachable staff, I always get seen quickly and haven't had any problems there. It's clean, has a free drinks machine and I always get really good service.
The only problem I have is that they say that they have to send out paper statements, even when I phoned to try and opt out - they said that there is no other way that they can send out important information. I find this annoying because I check my statements online so I don't need a paper statement and it just wastes paper! This is only a small problem though, and there are times when it's handy to have a paper statement, for proof of address etc.
I've read some mixed reviews about the Co-op Bank, some good, some bad because of one unfortunate experience at a branch, and one absurd and misleading review designed purely to denigrate the bank with barely any genuine justification, eg complaining about having to use a card reader which most banks now employ for security measures, amongst other spurious criticisms.
I decided I wanted a second bank account for supplementary purposes together with my Nationwide Flexaccount for primary banking. I chose the Co-op for this purpose for 2 reasons. a) they operate with an ethical purpose, eg they are involved in projects such as sustaining the Indonesian Rainforest, and b) the Co-op was not embroiled in the banking credit crunch of 2008 and so did not have to be rescued, nor have they been involved in criminal practices unlike two of their better known rivals.
The Co-op operate 4 different current acoounts. There is the basic current account, current account Plus, the Privilege account, and the Privilege Premier. The last two are subscription accounts which give you a range of 'free' benefits such as the Co-op legal services, car breakdown and mobile phone insurances etc. I opted for the no-frills, basic current account. It includes a debit card, which enables you to withdraw cash from any Link ATM, as well as pay for goods in shops or buying online; all I required really. You get a cheque book as well. There is no interest paid on the current account so it's not a good idea to leave a large sum on deposit for too long.
With overdrafts you need to be careful. Like other banks the Co-op are not shy of slapping on charges if you give them a reason. There are 2 types of overdraft, the 'formal' and 'informal o/d. With the formal o/d the bank agrees an o/d limit with you, ie you have to apply for one, say £500. Once agreed the arrangement runs for 12 months. As long as you do not exceed that o/d limit you pay a one-off fee for the year of £20. You still have to pay it even if you don't use that overdraft. An informal o/d implies no prior application. However if you go into overdraft you'll be charged £20, plus an additional £20 for each day the overdraft increases. There's a maximum charge of £150 per quarter The same rule applies if you breach a formal o/d. There's also interest payable at 18.9% pa on any o'd balance regardless of arrangement. The good news is that on informal overdrafts you pay no charges if you go into overdraft just once in a year and you pay it off within 6 consecutive working days. If you overdraw again in a year then the usual rules apply.
Online Banking is a feature with the Co-op as you would expect. You can register at a branch or by ringing up their head office, and you'll be given a 4 digit security code, which is separate from your debit card pin code. You'll also need to prepare a number of personal security questions, one of which you will be asked for at login. Once you're logged in you are taken to your account summary page what could be described as a minimalist looking website. However all the necessary menu options are there, eg paying bills, standing orders etc. All direct debits are transferred over by the Co-op from your previous bank if switching from them. The one thing that's missing while online is a customer message service to report problems or queries about your account or other issues, which is a feature with other online banking services. Apart from that omission the site is good enough Tou can always telephone Customer Service who operate 24/7, one of the big plus points about the Co-op Bank. No endless menu levels or hanging on for ages for someone to answer either. It's very quick to get through to them..
Co-op branches are not available in every town, but every city should have one. There's one within 7 miles of where I live. Failing that there are also Britannia branches which are part of the Co-operative bank. I have one of those within a 10 minute walk from me, although I've yet to find a branch of theirs that has an ATM machine. The Co-op banks seem to have them though, but you can use any Link ATM to withdraw cash. You would probably need a Co-op ATM to pay in, or simply queue at the teller at a Co-op or Britannia branch to pay in or withdraw funds. The good news is you won't be queuing for long especially at Britannia branches as they seem to be sparsely used. One thing I've noticed at Co-op branches is that the quality of customer service varies. When I've dealt with a branch manager (recommended) the service is quick and efficient. However with customer service staff you never know what you are getting and experience with them has ranged from good to plain useless. So I wouldn't judge this bank if your first experience with them has been a bad one because you dealt with some inexperienced underling. Just make sure you get to speak to a branch manager or deputy manager if you decide to open an account. Make an appointment to do that if necessary.
Happy so far to recommend the Co-op, and your money is probably a lot safer with them than with the big 4 if the last few years are anything to go by.
I have banked with the co-op for as long as I can remember, I currently have a current account and a mini cash isa, neither of which have caused me ay problems.
Despite the many negative reviews here I have always found their customer service excellent, especially over the phone, staff are helpful, polite and I have rarely been offered products I don't want or need. I went through a phase of forgetting my pin number and they were always patient when I rang up to explain I'd forgotten it yet again. As a student I have changed my main billing address many times and have never had a problem changing this with the bank or had important letters go AWOL.
In branch I have always found staff helpful and queues minimal.
Online banking is easy to use, I have never had any problems, I have used it regularly since it was introduced and have never had a problem with down time or logging in etc. I use Safari on a mac and haven't had any compatibility problems or pop ups telling me to download internet explorer!
However my main and overriding reason for banking with the Co-op is their ethical policy; they are as far as I know the only UK high street bank to operate an ethical investment policy. Members (as a customer you become a member) are entitled to have a say in what is deemed 'ethical' and the bank has invested in many eco friendly options and refuses to invest in the arms trade. I would recommend the Co-op to anyone with similar ethical concerns. I feel happier knowing my money is not funding practices I find abhorrent and that as a member I have a say in the running of the company and am not at the mercy of a monopoly of shareholders.
I joined the co-operative bank as part of a deal through the Federation of Small Businesses. The benefit being that I would get free business banking.
I have since rued the day I ever left Barclays (not a recommendation, other banks are available...) , I don't particularly like banks at the best of times but the Co-Op have made me want to gouge out my own eyes and smash my computer to pieces.
The biggest problem is the online banking service. When I first joined (2009), it was pretty bad. It was consistently and repeatedly unavailable, perhaps 50% of the times I tried to access it. When it was working it was extremely unresponsive (5+ second page load times) and would regularly throw errors.
Whilst this was disappointing, it was only a taste of what was to come.
2010 saw the co-op release a new version of online banking, and with it the introduction of a whole new level of agony for their customers.
I rank as "above average" in terms of computer literacy. As the director of an IT company, with 15 years of programming behind me I can be fairly confident in saying that I have an adequate grasp of using websites.
The new online banking service is an embarrassment to the company, I think satan himself has created a whole new circle of hell into which the people who designed, developed and signed off this system will spend the afterlife.
First of all the introduction of the "Security Token". For those who have not had the pleasure of using this device, I shall explain. To increase the level of security when using online services, a physical device (like small calculator) is issued to the customer. This device is used to authenticate certain actions. Without going into the detail of it, it is virtually impossible for a malicious person to crack this security without having physical access to this security token device so that they can extract the encryption key on it.
I understand that given the potential dangers around the average joe's understanding of online security (and the lack thereof) that the introduction of these devices was inevitable. (if only to protect the bank's bottom line - but that is another story) However there is a right way and a wrong way to go about it.
The benefit of online banking, is that you can access your accounts from anywhere with an internet connection. Now if you take NatWest as an example (again, not a recommendation, other banks may implement the same way...) they only require your security device when you are creating a new payment from your account to a new payee.
This is a sensible precaution.
They do not require you to carry your calculator with you at all times just so that you can log into your account; The Co-Op does.
This is the first step on the road to irritation. Why should I have to carry a device with me at all times just so I can check my account? Surely the very fact that I am carrying it about the place is in fact counter-productive as it is now much more easy for me to lose the device and for it to potentially fall into the wrong hands. Have they even thought about this? That is a rhetorical question.
The second glaring, incompetence fuelled, error was to issue people with yet another 'token' for them to lose - this time in the form of an account id. When I originally joined co-op, I was give a username - I was not allowed to choose this username. The small mercy being it was a fairly easy to remember contraction of initials+surname.
This second 'token' is not so easy to remember, an account ID in the form A12BCD, a random alphanumeric code.
So now I have two codes, neither of which I chose myself (perhaps I should write them on a post it note and stick them to my monitor? as opposed to remembering the passwords that I choose...) to enter along with the mandatory use of a physical device that generates a unique 10 digit code that must also be entered every time I want to log in.
Still this is only the tip of the Iceberg.
Once we enter the system, we are confronted with horrible unintuitive menu options. Screens which are clunky and poorly thought out.
I have used Barclays, Nat-west, LLoyds, Halifax and Santander. Whilst they all have there little niggles and quirks, they are essentially all quite usable. Some even a pleasure, insomuch as one can only find so much pleasure in having to deal with banks.
For example you are presented with a summary of your accounts and their respective balances when you log in, clicking on one of your accounts shows you the days transactions to see more you have to mess about with date ranges. How about just showing the last 10 or 20 with a pager, have we done any use cases? requirements capture? actually even thought about what your average customer does when they are online? No.
When we are forced to choose dates, instead of allowing us to choose a future date and then subsequently informing us we cannot do such a thing. Why not prevent it in the first place, or failing that just silently change it, or better still have a think about it - if i want to see transactions for tomorrow, or the day after then just show me them i.e. there are none! Show me none! don't complain about me wanting to see no transactions, I'm the customer, thats what I want, show me the 'no transactions' screen!
So it goes on, clumsy functionality, that is inconsistent unintuitive and is more representative of the bank's and their developer's view of things, than how a customer might want to interact with them.
Quite the worst website I have had to endure. I've used some real stinkers.
Next we come to the fraud department, and their repeated blocking of transactions, because they appear to be fraudulent. Like for example payments to our Server Provider, who we pay the same amount to every month for the past year or so. Or payments to Apple for internet services, to whom we also make regular payments.
I have never asked for, nor do I require my bank account to be babysat. I am trying to run a small business, that means when I need to make a purchase, or settle an invoice that I am able to do so with the minimum of hassle. Not to have to then spend half an hour on the phone to the fraud centre, to tell them that, "yes, we do wish you to authorise that payment that we make every month for the same amount".
Speaking of call centres, I wonder if the co-op understands what business expects from business banking, after all we do pay for it (lets not be so naive as to think that this 'free' banking that I have isn't actually subsidised by the FSB...).
We expect to be able to speak to someone promptly and directly. Instead we face the automated call handler. Something we come to accept, but still no less irritating, particularly when the options are all effectively "Would you like to *do this thing you could do online*". No. If it was something I could do online, then painful as it may be, I would have done it online. I'm calling because I can't do it online. How about you make that option 1?
However, I understand that this is again just the way things are, so we sit through the options until finally "if you would like to speak to a member of staff" presents itself.
Now when I first made the call, the call recording software asked me for my account number and sort code. So why is it that I am then asked for this again by the call centre staff? Only then is this dutifully transcribed into there system, so that we can both enjoy waiting for the search to complete. Perhaps we could use the fact I already entered my account number to make sure that this is the account that is already on the screen when the call centre op picks up the call?
I've already wasted too much time on this, but I fear if I didn't express my sheer rage at this second rate organisation that it would shorten my life.
I hope that this warns you well. I will be switching at the first available opportunity, and I will gladly pay for my banking in future, provided that it bears no resemblance to the abominable service that you get at the co-op.
Fantastic interest rate, but absolutely incompetent customer service. I strongly urge you to not use the Cooperative for your mortgage. In particular:They are inflexible - for example the do not accept any materials by email, even to the extent you need to print out emails and post to them.They are not proactive - if you don't chase them during application for a week, rest assured nothing will have happened. No one owns your application.They do not keep their commitments - they make commitments about contacting you or getting documents to you, but nearly always fail to keep those commitmentsThey are forgetful - during the application process they forgot to send me key forms resulting in weeks of delays.I cant wait for the duration of my mortgage to be up, so I can move elsewhere.
I have been a customer of The Cooperative Bank for about 6 years.
I have a current account , no cheque book, but I do have a debit card. I have no overdraft. These things are requirements that I requested.
Opening the account was really easy. I phoned a call centre where they took all of my details, did a quick credit check and my account was up and running in about 30 minutes.
As long as you run your account to your specifications The Coop are great, although beware if you go overdrawn without an agreement, as there is a nasty charge of £30.00.
Internet and telephone banking are both features of The Coop. I use both and they are very easy and quick to use.
The only down side of internet banking is that if you have pending payments from a card on your account, it dosnt show, so is not an uptodate balance really.
A great thing about the internet banking is that the fraud team are really on their toes. I had an experience where I accidently typed in the wrong amount for something I was trying to buy and it kept declining. Within 5 minutes of me continually trying to buy, the fraud team phoned me to check that it was me doing the ransaction and that someone else was not using my card. This really impressed me.
Phone banking is quick and easy, it usually only takes about 2-3 mins to get through.
The only disadvantage i have found with The Coop is when i tried to open an account for my children. I could not do that over the phone, instead i got alot of paperwork and needed it signing by a solicitor etc. I ended up not bothering as it was really in depth and difficult to do.
The Coop also takes on customers who have a bad credit record, which is also very useful for some people.
After getting very annoyed with my previous bank over very shoddy service I decided to change banks. I went for the cooperative cashminder account as I didn't want an overdraft but still wanted an account with a debit card.
Application was very easy. I simply phoned them up gave them my name, address, date of birth and security question details to set up internet banking and I was done. I was not required to send any identification and received my welcome pack, card and pin within the week.
I have now been with the cooperative for almost 2 years and I have had no complaints what so ever so far. Because it is a basic account, as soon as you pay for an item or take cash out the money is taken from your available balance. You always know how much money you have. This has meant that I have never gone overdrawn so have never incurred any charges. If by chance you do incur a charge it is just £20 which is lower than some banks.
Within branch and on the phone I have always received good service. Staff members are cheerful, polite and helpful. Whenever I have had a query it has always been dealt with quickly and professionally.
When banking with the cooperative you can pay money into your account at the post office or within a cooperative shop. You can also take money out and get print outs of your balance at these places too. If you pay a cheque into your account at the bank it will clear within 2-3 working days instead of the 4+ days other banks take to process the cheque.
I like to think of myself as quite an eco-person, and I take more of an interest in people and environmental ethics than many. So when I was looking to open a new bank account, the Co-op was my first choice. I've done some work on developing e-learning programs for the Co-op, and I was very impressed by their internal policies and standards as well as their external, so I headed off to my local branch.
Now the reason I wanted this account was because I wanted to transfer a little of pay from my main bank account (with another bank) into a basic debit card account each month. That way I wouldn't be tempted to spend lots of money on rubbish every month. I explained this to the advice person who called me over, and she immediately went off and had a heated discussion with another member of staff- they were both arguing about who should have to help me. Not a great first impression.
The woman I eventually sat down with was pleasant enough though - until she told me I had to have a savings account and credit card as well. I was confused, but told that I HAD to have them along with a Co-op membership card. I agreed, and then for the next couple of weeks, had a stream of confirmation letters and rejection letters from the bank.
Confused, I got my credit report and saw that I had an above average score. Furthermore, I'd been rejected for the basic bank account aimed at people who had been made bankrupt, for no apparent reason, as well as the credit card I hadn't wanted in the first place. There was no news about my bank account, and the £10 I'd been told to put it in it (despite me having to go out and get cash out especially when the written terms say only £1 is necessary) had disappeared. The only bad thing on my credit report was that the Co-op had made a total of SIX checks on my account in the same day, which I will have to wait another 4 months for them to clear.
Needless to say, I was back at the Co-op soon after, VERY angry. The woman I saw this time was really nice and helped me sort everything out. I was lied to because, as it turned out, I didn't need a credit card nor a savings account with the Co-op in order to open a basic current account. She told me she was shocked and disgusted at the way I'd been treated, and I have to say that it caused me a lot of stress and upset. So I lodged a complaint about 'Amy', who had given me such terrible advice. Unfortunately my trust in the Co-op Bank was shattered by then; I'd been lied to, they'd taken my money, I'd been almost forced into applying for a credit card I didn't want or need, and my credit score had suffered from six unnecessary checks that I hadn't been informed about.
The nice woman was genuinely upset that I'd been treated that way and told me she understood if I wanted to give up on the idea. She sorted out my savings account, closed it and gave me my money back. I said I'd take a form for the basic account anyway - one that I could fill out myself without anyone messing it up for me. But sadly I don't think I'll ever be going back there, because I thought my bank was bad - but they've never done anything remotely as bad to me. I'm just glad I found out early on. Luckily I don't intend to apply for anything requiring a credit check in the near future, but I know for a lot of people this could have had heavy financial costs. I'm so glad I didn't transfer my money and apply for even more accounts at the Co-op as 'Amy' originally wanted me to do, because God only knows what might have happened to my savings and wages. Terrible service, but I feel like I've had a lucky escape. Instead of another bank account, I'm just withdrawing a set amount of money each month and not spending on my card.
I don't know anyone else that uses the Co-Operative Bank, but since my parents opened me an account with them as a child, I've stayed with the my entire life, and have never had a single problem with them. For such a little-known bank, they really do have a number of outstanding features, and I thoroughly recommend them! Here are a few of their best attributes:
a) Online Banking: you can set up an online account over the phone, and then you can transfer money and check your balance whenever you like, which is incredibly convenient. Nowadays though you have to use a card reader to do transfers which is a bit irritating to be honest.
b) Student Overdraft: for such a small bank I was amazed that they even offered student facilities! They offer an interest-free student overdraft that begins at £1400 for your first year, £1700 for your second and £2000 for your third. Also, they give you until a year after you graduate to pay it back which is great!
c) Fraud Protection: Just last week I had some very suspicious activity taking place on my accounts, where three suspicious transactions appeared totalling £50. I quickly called the bank and they cancelled my cash card, saying that I would get the money back within 2 weeks pending an investigation and a new card would be sent within a week. I got the money back the NEXT DAY, and the card arrived within only four days, so I was very impressed with their efficient, all the more important given that I'm still paying back my overdraft so I don't have much money!
For a bank that has ethical concerns but is also incredibly efficient, this is one to go for!
Opened an account with the Co-Op for a brief period back in 2007. Big mistake, I found their internet banking service awful and outdated, difficult to get anything done in branch and the statements didn't half of the information I expected them too.Sure, they are a "liberal" organisation which ties in nicely with my political and ideological beliefs but for what price?
I have quite a bad credit rating and had tried unsuccessfully to open a new bank account, this was due to wanting to reclaim by bank charges. I was advised that sometimes they will refund charges and then close your account.
I checked about online and discovered the Co-operative Bank. They offer an account called the CashMinder account which is suitable for everyone, even people who are bankrupt.
I went in during a busy lunch hour and was immediately given a seat and a simple form to fill in. They only require basic details and as long as you are on the electoral roll they only need a passport or driving licence as ID. If you are not on the electoral roll you need to provide proof of you address, this can be anything from a bill, bank statement or even a benefit letter.
Once they took the form back from me they explained that by opening this account you were also opening a Smartsaver account. This is just a savings account but was handy to have.
The Cashminder account comes with a Visa Electron card which you can use as a debit card in shops, but like the old Switch card. You can set Direct Debits up and get wages paid into the account, but can not go overdrawn on the account, and they do not give you a cheque book or overdraft.
I opened this account on the Thursday and the following Tuesday I received both a Visa Electron card and a Savings card. The pin numbers for both cards arrived the following day.
You need to lodge £10 into each account to activate them, but you can withdraw this straight away.
I think this is a great account and a way of managing your money properly.
Useless if you are located in London. Have managed our tenants' association banking through them for the past 4 years and now ready to move back to HSBC. No business support from their local branch so everything must be done by phone (at 0870 rates) or by post -- adds up to delays and cheerful but poorly trained call centre staff.
I have recently opened a basic Cashminder account and have found the whole experience to be very easy and hassle free. I turned up at the branch at 09:30 when they opened, without an appointment and was immediately shown a seat and my details taken. I had already checked online what ID I would need (Passport & Driving Licence) and I was asked the minimum of questions. After no more than ten minutes, the assistant informed me that all should be fine and my welcome pack would arrive within the week, which it did. I was able to register for phone and internet banking straight away and my visa Electon card turned up the following day with the PIN following a couple of days later. This process was so much easier than accounts I have has at Lloyds and Barclays in the past. The Co-Operative also prides itself on being an ethical bank which was one of the attractions for me. Two thumbs up.