January 11, 2012
I like new things, I embrace new technology, but this is a story of what happens when it screws right up.
Last year I changed my bank account. I went from the über greedy RBS to the small, new kid on the block with flashy “stores” that are open 7 days a week and late in the evening. I opened a current account with MetroBank.
At the time, I was still living in Wakefield, but I liked the idea of a call centre that didn’t use a stupid 0870 number or any number that isn’t free from a mobile phone, as MetroBank use one of the new 03 numbers which are inclusive out of my mobile minutes.
So, in March, I took the plunge in changing accounts. I went into a branch, and walked out within the hour with a brand new card in my hands ready to use. I didn’t have to wait for it to be made elsewhere and sent through to me in the mail, I walked out of the branch with it. This is how banking should be I thought.
The bank was new, and some companies did struggle with Direct Debits, as the sort code wasn’t on their system. That’s not MetroBanks fault, but it was annoying, having to juggle a couple of bank accounts, but my May / June time, everything was switched over, and I was using my Debit Mastercard. There were a few occasions where things screwed up, and cards were declined, but on the whole it was a positive experience.
September came, and on holiday to NYC I went with my MetroBank card in hand. I used TD Bank ATM’s in NYC, and didn’t get charged a penny to take out my money. No fees for withdrawing, no fees for taking out my cash or converting it from UK to US. This is how banks should be.
All has been going smoothly, and I’ve moved to London. I’ve used a branch once to pay a cheque in after I’ve finished work, and it was great to walk into a Bank at 6pm, and do that, and have had no issues recently. I like this bank. I was getting close to opening another account with them to use as a savings account, and close my Nationwide account down.
Then, on Monday, it’s all went wrong, so wrong, I’m now questioning whether I should move everything to Nationwide, and part company with MetroBank. Asda are also partly at fault in my opinion, as I will now explain.
I needed to fill up my car. Simple you think, as did I. My nearest filling station to where I live is the local Asda. Obviously in their ultimate wisdom, Asda are making their filling stations Pay@Pump. This means they’ve got rid of kiosks where you can talk to a human, and pay by cash or card there, and it’s a truly automated system. This used to be a minor annoyance when I had a fuel card without a chip and pin, but now, I thought it would be great. I headed there, nipped into store to purchase some goods, and paid by card. No problems like normal, and I got back in my car to put some Diesel in. I wanted to do this, to save time in the morning and get some bonus sleep by being able to hit snooze.
Now, if you’ve never used these pay by pumps before, the way they work, is that you put your card in first, type in your PIN, it pre authorises your card for whatever amount, so it knows they can get payment, and then activates the pump. So, I put my card in, and type in my PIN, and NOT AUTHORISED comes up on screen. I try again, and get the same.
I get back in my car, and park up nearby, so I can make a phone call. Get on the phone to MetroBank and get a reasonably useless person on the end of the phone saying that she doesn’t know, can’t see why, she understands my frustration, says that it could be the pump as it doesn’t recognise it is a Debit MasterCard, I tell her it is recognising it perfectly fine, and it can’t be that, then she eventually agrees with me that I should try another pump. I try another pump, and the same happens. NOT AUTHORISED
At this point, I’m extremely frustrated and annoyed. I needed fuel, and Asda are substantially cheaper than other places in my local area thanks to their national pricing (137.7p compared to 140.9p), and I really didn’t want to have to fill up the next morning.
I get home, and decide to make a phone call to the bank again to really get to the bottom of this, and work out what it is. I get a much more helpful advisor on the phone this time, and explains to me that as MetroBank have seen a lot of fraud on Pay@Pump systems, they have BLOCKED every single MetroBank card (debit and credit), from using these systems. She advised me to take cash out, and I said it was impossible, as there is no longer a kiosk.
This is where Asda are at fault, they’ve removed the chance for business users to pay by fuel cards (as they don’t have a chip), and now I’m unable to use my main bank account for paying for fuel, because there is no longer a human available to be able to pay. I think it is a stupid money saving idea, that could actually be costing them money, rather than saving money. I’d love them to reinstate the kiosks at Asda even if it had some limited opening hours (10am – 7pm), at least I’d be able to fill up.
Anyway, the phone conversation continued, and I asked if I could at all have my cards unblocked from this so I could use them at a Pay@Pump as it’s the nearest place to my home, and also, the cheapest as well. I got told it’s “not just a button we can press”, and that the advisor would raise it up to their manager.
I was also asked if I had another bank account or card I could use, which I have, but don’t want to, and why should I have to go out of my way just to pay for fuel? Also, did MetroBank not think of advising their customers that they can’t use these systems? If I had a seriously empty fuel tank, and needed to fill up, and I have no other means of payment, they could have put me in a dangerous situation, where I run out of fuel, miss an appointment for my job, and subsequent earnings. Also, on a full tank of fuel, I now have to resort to paying £2.24p more per tank, which adds up to £116.48p per year if I fill up once per week (which I do, if not more). Are MetroBank going to give me £116.48p so I can use their account, and fill up at my local Sainsbury’s. I think not.
I’d love to get a public response from both Asda, as to why they think it’s a good idea removing human interaction and kiosks from the filling stations, and also MetroBank about how I can be convinced to keep my bank account with them, and not jump ship to Nationwide. Feel free to comment below.
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