Woolwich from Winchester

Just before a trip to London a few days ago, I inserted my Woolwich card in an ATM near Winchester Station. I hit the ‘balance on screen’ button, and saw ‘your card issuer has declined your request’. A bit mysterious. I don’t normally keep much money in that account, but obviously I still wanted to make sure that someone wasn’t in the process of stealing it. So I phoned up the ‘lost and stolen’ line on the back of the card and explained the problem. I was told that, because I wasn’t an Openplan account holder (whatever that is), it wasn’t possible to do any telephone banking past 5.30pm. Although my security details could be verified, I was told that no further information could be given. The card could be cancelled, and a new one sent out, but I didn’t want to go through the hassle for the risk attached to such a small sum of money.

My worries were further compounded when I phoned during office hours the next morning to check again. They could find no record of the card being declined, or an explanation as to why it was. The only suggestion I was offered was: ‘try it in another ATM’. Well, duh.

I’ve no doubt my card will probably work again next time I try it, and this was a one-off glitch. It’s not entirely reassuring that the problem doesn’t seem to have been recorded, but what is surprising is the illogical service I was offered by the Woolwich. This isn’t price discrimination, this is just stupidity: with 24-hour callcentres and computerised records, there is no excuse.

This type of problem in the past has been one of the things that has encouraged me to keep multiple accounts with different banks (so I can get at money when I need it). I suspect the Woolwich might soon lose its place in my portfolio, though. Any recommendations for a replacement?


I moved to smile about a year ago, and have not looked back since!
Thanks for the recommendation, btw - I'll look into what HSBC have to offer.
Because the 'Openplan' account (I do actually know roughly what it is, I was just being grumpy :)) wouldn't cost me anything more than the other account. By not encouraging me to move over to that, or extending its benefits to an older-style account, they are providing worse service to some customers than others, simply based on the time they joined the Woolwich. It's easy to see how such a mistake could happen in a bureaucratic environment, but it still shows they haven't thought it through.
Explain why this isn't price discrimination again... you value 24hr service and they _can_ provide but don't want to pay for it. Sure, the call centre is already there, but that's true of lots of things- there's an NTL cable right up to my front door but since I'm not going to pay them a penny, they don't seem keen on me using it :) As for recommendations, HSBC have always been excellent for me. Shame really as I sort of feel I should shop around a bit more for banking but since they've always been so good, I haven't.
Well, anyway, the card seemed to work when I tried it today. Have added 'switch bank' to my long list of to-dos, though. The irony is that I've just noticed Google is serving up an ad for Woolwich loans on this page as I'm viewing it.
If it's any consolation, I had a similar thing happen with my Barclays debit card - it was declined in a store who swore blind it was because the bank had declined the transaction [I used another card]. I immediately phoned Barclays to find out why [to their credit, it was after 6:30pm, I have a bog standard account and they were perfectly happy to talk to me] and they categorically denied declining anything. Clearly something had fallen over somewhere, but I wish there were more descriptive "error messages" than simply 'declined'!