Bye bye Barclays- Money is MOVED!

By Gavin Davies on 5 November 2012

The experience of moving my money to more ethical banks…

I’ve posted before about why I am moving my money – it was a long road, but now, six months later it’s done!

Or at least I think it is. It’s hard to be sure. Here’s the story.

Approximate timeline follows!

Move Your Money: Bank On Better

APRIL: starting the change

Triodos Bank: ethical banking

I decided I would close my Barclays savings account in favour of Triodos. OK, that went fine, no problems there.

May: making it happen

I opened a current account with the Co-operative bank. I set up my Barclays current account so that every month, it would pay some money into the Co-op account, so I had separate cash and billing accounts, a la the simple CAP money system. No problems, worked great, and I had more idea about what I was spending! Great! I figured I’d run with it for a few months and see how it went. Now, I only had the main Barclays account and a Barclaycard to dispose of!

July: big changes!

I had a busy few months but I finally plucked up the courage to move my account. I know that these days, it is a lot easier than years ago, but man, it was still scary, so I figured I’d do it in stages. I went into a branch and spoke to a guy and got it set up, no problem. Only, me being me, I was aware my mortgage, held with Santander was up for renewal. Santander don’t score much better than Barclays on ethical terms, so I switched my mortgage whilst I was at it.

And my contents insurance (to Co-op).

And my buildings insurance (also to Co-op).

And set up life cover and critical illness cover (with L&G).

All in one month.

Now, this was all good stuff, but it led to:

August/September: the fallout!

This was a very stressful time. If I’d *JUST* changed my main bank account, or *JUST* moved my mortgage, it wouldn’t have been so bad, but it was pretty manic. I blogged about how tough all this change was and how I used Kanban, Trello and the teachings of Jesus to stay on top of a lot of change.

It’s only a couple months ago but it feels like forever ago. I was working very long hours and became very fraught indeed. I had to make a lot of phonecalls, do a lot of Internet banking, there were a lot of hiccups so I had to chase stuff all the time but eventually it all got sorted. Phew!

October: monitoring.

I’m using my new accounts. My mortgage is all set up. Insurance and life cover seems fine. Nothing’s gone out of the Barclays account in 2 months so I figured – it’s time to kill the Barclays account for good!

November: hilarity ensures

I went into Barclays to close my accounts. The girl at the counter asked why and I politely said because of the poor ethics of Barclays, and mentioned the Libor scandal, tar sands, and food speculation. It’s important not to rant at counter staff, they don’t make the decisions to invest in this stuff! She took a look at the account and all the direct debits were still open! PRO TIP: double check with your bank when closing direct debits. I had closed them on Barclays internet banking as well as Co-op’s account switching service instructing their cancellation, but they remained open! Talk about a hydra!

Anyway, she cut my card up in front of me, which was satisfying so I thanked her and asked to close my Barclaycard. I was directed to a telephone, which was deeply unimpressive, but whatever. I called the number and got an Indian call center. They took me through the process, and the conversation about cancellation went a bit like this:

  • Call center: “what’s the reason for your cancellation?”
  • Me: “the ethics of Barclays as a company”
  • Call center: “…”
  • Me: “the what sorry?”
  • Call center: “I’m sorry, I don’t understand”
  • Me: “the bad things Barclays do – tar sands, investment in firearms…”
  • Call center: “Could you please repeat?”
  • Me: “the LIBOR scandal?”
  • Call center: “Is there a problem with the card?”
  • Me : “oh, never mind the reason, let’s just cancel it”

Then, after quibbling over my closing balance (a spectacular £0.00), the account was closed. Remaining polite, but possibly with a little frustration in my voice, I tried one last time to the reason why I cancelled on record:

  • Call center: “Is there anything else I can help you with today?”
  • Me: “please could you record my reason for cancellation, if there isn’t an option for it, could you just write the word LIBOR?”
  • Call center: “I’m sorry, I don’t understand you sir”
  • Me: “Lima Indigo Bravo Oscar Romeo”
  • Call center (sounding crestfallen): “…. ok…”

I don’t think she wrote it down; she still didn’t seem to know what I was talking about. I’m well-spoken, I don’t mumble; it’s clear that there was no option for “ethical reasons” on the form the call center operative was filling in. I will be writing a letter of complaint to Barclaycard for this. I don’t blame the operative – she’s just doing her job – but I do find the overseas call centres annoying in situations like this; I really couldn’t get my point across. I remained polite but I was irritated.

So anyway!

Barclays is gone from my life. I requested written confirmation of it all being closed off.

Here are my tips for moving your money:

  1. Start with the easy stuff. Moving my savings was a piece of cake, for example.
  2. One thing at a time. Unless you have a lot of time to devote to changing things, treat it like debugging – only change one thing at a time, then observe the system for an iteration!
  3. Make sure you cancel Direct Debits at BOTH ends. I thought I had, apparently I hadn’t, so make doubly sure!
  4. Don’t be put off! I am very glad I made these changes. No, I’m not naive enough to think I’m “saving the world”, but I do feel that I’ve voted with my wallet and taken my cash out of the hands of people who have acted unscrupulously.
  5. Don’t take it out on the cashiers or call centre staff. Ranting at them about Barclays corporate ethics will be unlikely to do anything but annoy them. Be polite, mention the moveyourmoney movement, but don’t be sanctimonious about it.

YMMV!

“Putting your money where your mouth is would deliver far greater and more durable change than any amount of banker-bashing.” – Andy Haldane