Direct Debit Errors and Santander’s customer service

So today as usual I had my monthly telephone line rental taken out by direct debit. Unusually I’m not with BT or Virgin Media (for those in cables areas) but I use The Phone-Coop, the original reason being they offered line rental contracts for a minimum contract of 6 months against the usual 12 months from BT.

I don’t actually use my land-line, but sadly it’s a pre-requesite for ADSL in the UK and naked DSL isn’t available due to lack of demand, says BT.

So today I notice two sums being deducted, one for myself and another nearly double. A closer inspection of my statement shows this has been going on for the past 4 months* resulting in a total overpayment of ~£130.00.
*Yes, I know I should have checked my statements more closely before…

The Phone Co-Op were my first port of call, I reported the issue to them and they said they would investigate and get back to me. Still annoyed and quite impatient I did some research into Direct Debits and found that under the terms of the direct debit guarantee I was entitled to a full and immediate refund, so decided to call Santander…

Initially the call centre advisor was quite helpful, I ran off the four direct debits and she advised they have been reclaimed – unfortunately when she read them back to me it was clear two of the four were incorrect. When I asked if the two incorrect claims could be cancelled she advised they couldn’t and I would have to repay the company concerned manually.

Great, I thought, Santander have made an error on my account, I am going to have to mess about with a manual payment and explain to another company why their direct debits have been reversed. Knowing how call centres are structured I asked to be escalated to a manager who thankfully was based in Britain and not East Asia; he apologised and made a £15.00 credit to my an account for the inconvenience.

They still weren’t able to reverse the incorrect direct debit reclaims, and apparently they can only go back two months on their system whereas I needed to go back four; His answer was that I needed to “contact the originating company for a refund.”, which as shown here is not true. This shouldn’t be a suprise to me at all given that Santander has been voted the worst bank for customer service , they also recently managed to send out 35,000 bank staments to the wrong addresses.

Moral of the story, don’t settle for poor customer service.

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