Santander (Abbey) Possibly The Worst Bank In Europe?

I bank with Santander – the re-branded Abbey, let’s just say the systems and level of service leave much to be desired. My biggest gripe is that their security system is completely over-zealous and blocks my card every week on average. This is a business account and each time it happens it has a significant knock on effect and costs me money and time. I’ve tried repeatedly to get Santander to loosen the security on my account so that I don’t have to keep their number on speed-dial, however, it’s a gargantuan organisation with thousands of people and nobody knows where to direct you, I’d be surprised if you visited their offices in Glasgow and they knew where the toilet was.

Occasionally, I’ll speak to someone in security who will go through ten transactions of the last six months and I’ll have to verify each company. Sometimes, they will ask me about transactions that haven’t hit my account yet for really random amounts for example £31.57 – I mean, how on earth I am supposed to know who that was for? I can’t see it on my bank statement and the business has dozens of automated transactions a day. If you can’t verify, you can’t unlock your account. Nice.

Other problems have included:

1. “Forgetting” to send a CHAPS payment
2. Sending amounts of money abroad in the wrong currency – this was a huge error and the difference was massive – Then taking four weeks to claw it back.
3. Not setting up Direct Debits
4. Duplicating Payments
5. Not cancelling Duplicate payments.
6. Terrible customer Service.
7. Questions go unanswered and no less than five follow-ups are usually required.

The list goes on, I’ve only been with them for a year and it’s been rather exciting. I guess I should thank them for keeping me on my toes each time I need to pay for something as it’s a bit of a game as to whether I’m actually going to be-able to complete the transaction or not.

If you are considering a move to Santander because of the free banking or some other reason, I suggest you re-think the move as it probably isn’t worth the hassle and heartache you’ll go through.

20 thoughts on “Santander (Abbey) Possibly The Worst Bank In Europe?

  1. Furious says:

    In 2008 it was time for Abbey to replace my expired debit card. I phoned prior to the expiration date and they assured me that my card was on its way. Expiration day came, no card. “We’ll send out another” no card. We’ve located your card…its been sent to 1 Whatever Road, I have not lived in this address for 4 years and it has a joint letterbox, so NO bank mail has ever been posted her EVER. Confirmed my new address with them, they merged the account with my mums details so I could no longer even speak to them about my account! Arranged to have the card sent to my local branch for collection, got my letter in saying it was ready for collection from LONDON, I lived in Glasgow, Scotland. Re-sent my card to a branch in Glasgow for me to pick up-there are two cards waiting “I think this is the newest one” it was not, card was declined. Went back to the branch “Sorry we’ve destroyed your other card” Sent card out to a completely different branch for me as I had actually moved house the whole time I was waiting, card received. How long did it take? 92 days. 92 days with no debit card, no card to buy xmas presents, no card to pay bills, thankfully another mistake made by them is that I still had an electron card to see me through the months.
    Its now time for Santander to prove itself. Its replacement time, my card has expired and no sign of my new card. Where in the world is it this time?

  2. Dave Edwards says:

    I have just closed down all my accounts with Santander and urge everybody to do the same.

    I have had a bank and savings account with Abbey/Santander for about 12 years. The interest rate on each of them was good when I opened it, but gradually fell and fell until it was something ridiculous like 0.1%. Loads of money went in and out of each account and the account was always kept in good credit. Last month I committed the heinous crime of going £2.34 overdrawn for which they informed me they would charge me £25 for allowing me to go overdrawn, £5 for continuing to allow me to have an account whilst overdrawn and interest on the overdrawn figure – which of course they had now upped to £32.34 for each day I was overdrawn.

    I went straight down to my local branch. They refused to waive the charges and said they couldn’t close the account, even if I paid all the charges. I would have to wait a month for the charges to be deducted before they would close it. They suggested I pay in £30 to cover the charges. So I did. After I got outside, I thought well hang on, if they’re going to make me £32.34 overdrawn, £30 isn’t actually going to cover and I’ll *still* be overdrawn. In I went again. Yes, that’s right, they said, we were assuming you just didn’t want to pay interest on the charges. In other words, they tried to *keep* me overdrawn in order to charge the same fees again the month later.

    Bloody hell, at least Dick Turpin wore a mask!

    Anyway, I paid in another £10 to be sure and will finally cut myself loose of them next month. They won’t be getting any of my custom for the rest of my life and I will be telling everyone I meet this story. Hope the £30 they got was worth it.

  3. Ahmed says:

    The Worst Bank In Europe?
    I definitly agree that the title is for Santander. I have 2 accounts with Santander. Both my accounts were blocked about 3 months ago without any notification. When i contacted branch, they said its a special department which has blocked the account and they want my passport and id details again. First time they checked it about 2 years ago when they were opening the account.

    So i took all the required Id proofs and since then have been waiting for the department to get back to me. When i called to speak to them about my case, I was told as only 4 people work in this department it will take some time before they will look into my case. So at the moment all my money, personal and business is stuck in the World’s worst bank and i am unable to do any thing about it. Currently i am surviving with the help of family and friends.

    I have also reported this to Financial Ombudsman but doubt it will be of any use.

  4. Bob says:

    i’ve been with Abbey for about 3 years now, as i was only 15 when i applied they wouldn’t let me get a chip and pin card, anyway, in august 2009 i decided to go in and enquire if i was able to get one (i had just turned 18) the person behind the desk was rude and was honestly more interested in her nails than she was my problem, when she finally got the information into the computer she told me that a card will be dispatched within 2 weeks, anyway zoom forwards 3 months (November) i decide to go in again to chase up what’s taking so long, again i was told a card would be dispatched shortly, in January i went in again and was finally told that because i’m a full time student and am unemployed my monthly income is not high enough to apply for one, now i have no problem with this, if that’s the rule that’s, the rule, but why i couldn’t have been told that in august is beyond me, anyway, this afternoon i got a letter from santander and enclosed was a chip and pin card, now my monthly income hasn’t changed from january, so whether the card was sent in error i don’t know.

  5. Don says:

    I had previously been with the Abby for many years having a savings account when i was 15 or so and progressing to a standard debit/current account and used them for around 10 years. The customer service i experienced then was excellent.
    I moved and set up with a different bank but another ten years later I decided I would re-activate my dormant but now santander account as my main bank account, huge mistake!!!
    The issues I have had getting and replacing a card have been hell not to mention their inability to process direct debits and transfers correctly.
    I re activate my account with my new details and wait for the card to come, 10 days later i phone to see what has happened, i’m told something must have happened with the post so a new one is ordered. Another 10 days later and no card so i call again and again they re-order a card. Another 10 days later and no card so i check all my details with the branch, which check out and am told to wait a few more days.
    I patiently do this only to find NO CARD through my letter box! I go to the branch again and find that my card has been sent to the branch where I originally set up the account, some 400 miles away!
    I’m slightly annoyed by this point doing the best I can to make sure my details are correct from my end. The very simpathetic cashier re-ordered my card again.
    Guess what happened? After 10 days, still no card! but i did get a letter saying that I could pick up my card from the branch in another 10 days! where was the branch? 400 miles away!!!!
    Very annoyed I march off to the branch to complain and am told that the card will be re-ordered yet again but will definately be posted to my home address. I wait patiently for another 10 days, on the tenth day i receive……………………a letter, telling me i can collect my card from my LOCAL BRANCH but in another 10 days!!!! argh!!!

    I did get my card in the end despite it being 5 days late to be delivered to the branch, but the other day it got eaten for no apparrent reason by a cash machine and had to re-order it again, it’s now been 10 days, I wonder what’s going to happen?

  6. Mark says:

    This bank is truly horrific. I live in Southern Spain, where service is poor from every service provider you can imagine. It is particularly painful when it comes to an organization who looks after your hard earned dough.

    The above examples you give strike a resonance with me, particularly currency issues on international transfers.

    When, oh when will they learn that customer service actually matters and when someone needs something doing, you should only have to request it once.

  7. closed an account 22/05 and still waiting for my brass from instant access isa………staff lied and said would come first class post but still no money
    complaints department fobbing me off
    do not bank with this lot unless you are extremely patient
    now borrowing money just to pay my bills which is well out of order
    tell your friends please

  8. Melissa Jones says:

    I have banked for abbey national for 13 years obviously they are now Santander. I recieved a letter from them saying they had changed hands however my card expired in June and I haven’t recieved a new card or a single letter from Santander.

    I am sick of waiting so will be calling them tomorrow to close the account.

  9. Dale Sweatland says:

    Santander, we take your money and give nothing in return

    i have been with Santander for over 10 years now and i have never experienced such poor service in all areas of banking.

    My account went massively overdrawn due to a company continously trying to take money from the wrong account, to my horror it was almost £500 – how can this happen without any notification from your Bank.

    I made an appointment in my local branch and this was discussed and much to my surprise the Manager informed me that Santander can wipe the slate clean and open a new account for while the previous account would be closed so i took full advantage of this and opened a reward account costing me £10 a month, i checked my account online and my old account with arrears is still showing up and i have now received numerous letters threatening legal action for an account that should be closed.

    I have just spent 23 minutes on hold with no chance of speaking to any customer Service Agent, this angers me on such a level.

    Q. Why is it the average person who works to survive and save money is the person who gets trodden on and forgotten.

    A. Because there is nothing the average person can do apart from complain to some 18 year old who doesn’t care about anything apart from clocking off.


  10. alaw says:

    I am currently at the end of my second year of a graduate account with Santander (the graduate account lasts for three years and offers an interest free overdraft). After receiving a letter notifying me that my graduate account would be changing to a standard current account. I decided to phone up and query this (this phone call included the usual wait and the luxury of speaking to someone in india) they told me that I would have to go into a branch and show them my certificates to prove what year I finished the course. At this point I thought fair enough, so this is what I did, and my problems started:

    1. As I explain my situation to the lady behind the counter the first thing she says to me is that I need to phone up and ask them to change the date, at which point I said already had and they ask me to come in branch. So she then arranges for me to speak to someone who supposedly knows what they are talking about. She asks me to wait for 10 minutes.

    2. 20 minutes later, I get called into the advisors office. She mumbles to herself something about her being on leave after today, (I ignore this, but think to myself, great customer service, am I inconveniencing you? why are you telling me that?) and she doesn’t ask me what my problem is. She then asks for my account number and post grad certificate so I hand over both. She then promptly starts to shoot through filling things in on the screen (as which point she starts to fill in my details as if I am currently a post graduate). At which point she turns to me and says “but this says 2008 on it.” (I’m thinking ”well, duh, that when I finished the course?”). So I say yeah thats right, thats when I finished my post grad course.

    3. So at this point I’m thinking does she understand what I am asking for? I explain that you start on a graduate account after you finish the post graduate account, she say ”er, yes I know that” (as if to say ”do you think I’m stupid?”) So I say I finished my post-graduate course 2008, its 2010 now so I am only 2 years in to my graduate account, not three.

    4. Then comes the icing on the cake, she starts querying my date of birth. This is when I start to think major WTF? She says I was born in 86 (I’m 85) and that she’s already finished the graduate account! So in response I say that it doesn’t make any difference when I was born, and that I was at uni for 5 years anyway (presuming the reason she was mentioning this was because she was there for the usual 3)! She literally looked at me as if I was lying about my time at uni, all a while Im thinking why is this so complicated?! On top of all this I could have been a mature student, had a year out and any number of things, so my date of birth is completly irrelevant! The only thing that is relevant is when I graduated, that is why I have a graduate account!

    4. She then finally appears to start to understand what I am talking about and starts whizzing through her computer screen filling in things. She pauses and says ”I’m not sure about this it says your employed so I’m not sure if this will work”. What???!!! The fact that I AM employed is one of the main reasons why I qualify for a graduate account in the first place (you can’t open one if your unemployed). This again reinforces the fact that she doesn’t understand or isn’t knowledgeable about my situation. I’m kind of despairing at this point, and because she was bitchy earlier I don’t try to explain this to her. I just say something along the lines of ”yeah I’m employed your allowed to be as part of the graduate account”

    5. She mentions again the fact that she is on leave as of tomorrow, then starts to right a case referral on screen to her colleague explaining my situation, so that he can sort it out on Friday? (Tuesday today). Thinking about this now I’m not really sure why she had to do this, I presume it something to with her having to send of the request and then wait for a response to then confirm it. I’m pissed off now thinking to myself I’ve come in to the bank today to sort it now, why can it not be done now? But what can I do, and have to presume this is the only way because she says so.

    Anyway it was clear that she wasn’t aware of all the criteria that were needed to have a graduate account. But in these situations you kind of expect some sort of basic understanding. Still not sure if the situation is resolved (hopefully someone will phone me on fri, I doubt it!) I left the bank thinking to myself, how complicated was that? It really didn’t need to be, it’s a simple date change!

  11. Steven says:

    I’m 16 and i joined abbey just before it changed to santander, not really a problem as when i turned 16 i appiled for a new card (a chip and pin one) still same account though, however because of a problem with one of their machies my account was blocked, ok fair enough sometimes things break, so i got a new pin and was told i’d have to activate it at a santander machine, ok fair enough, so i used the machine at my local branch but it said the service was unavailble, getting a little annoyed but this was a diffrent machine than before, had to withdraw money inside the branch, (staff very nice and helpful though), i dnt have any money right now so i haven’t been back to the bank, but i will have to next week to sort it out before i get my first ema payment, overall i’ve been quite happy with the bank, though their online service hasn’t worked, though this may be because of losey internet connection :)

  12. jackie says:

    im still waiting for a replacement card as we had money takien out from our account without permission so rang santander and they actually said there was nothing they could do…so we cancelled our card and asked fr a new one…but it annoys me that they didnt want to help and we have been with the bank for 15 years…im now gonna change to the new metro bank thats just opened…

  13. jeremy says:

    Santander are so useless that whilst driving home earlier having to have visited a second branch to withdraw cash it occurred to me that if there are any budding bank robbers out there can I suggest you give them three days notice for the cash!!!
    If not you might get about a tenner!!!

  14. Alice says:


    I was overdrawn recently which is fair enough, they charged me £85 in a series of penalty fines, I got them to reduce it to £25 (they had not given me any “first customer care”, I did not know I was overdrawn, more reasons etc)

    And UNBELIEVABLY, after I replenished my funds so that I had 80p in the account (I never use it, I have a new HSBC and I mean to close my Abbey soon) they TOOK £25 OUT AS AN UNARRANGED OVERDRAFT FINE, WHEN I WAS CLEARLY NOT OVERDRAWN

    I am ringing up to complain in the morning, there is no WAY I am paying that.


  15. Gerry Hollywood says:

    My Sisterinlaw and hubby are here i Australia on holiday and after withdrawing money a ATM Santander blocked her card.
    So i rang there branch in Manchester my sisterinlaw then explained she could not lift any money the person she spoke to asked her how much money did she withdraw in manchester before coming to Australia as she had just flown 24 hours from the other side of the world she asked her husband on hearing this the lady told her she had faild the security check so then she was given more information only my sisterinlaw would know but there was no way she would unblock her card after 6 phone calls to this so called bank talking to people who have no clue what they are doing they still refused to unblock her card so here are two people on holiday on the other side of the world with no funds well done Santander and by the way it’s a debit card not santandesr money. When they go home they will tell as many people as they can to close there accounts with this so called bank i also feel all these people should get intouch with the newspapers and any other outlet that would highlight this horrific bank.

  16. sophie says:

    I’m trying to find other people who have a downright struggle, as I did, with Santander’s badly thought out security procedures.
    To me, these make it easier for a seasoned hacker to access my account as all passwords, PIN numbers, codes etc are all randomly issued sets of digits which require rote memorisation and are totally unrelated to me.
    How can a Personal Identification code or number identify me if I cannot recall it without writing it down?
    How can a ‘password’ be an 8 digit number issued to me by a computer?
    How can I keep reciting 10 different random sets of digits between 4 and 12 digits long?

    I don’t feel the slightest bit safe with this system as a person, let alone find it accessible. My money is being protected against me.

    Does anyone else have this problem?

    The upshot was that I couldn’t monitor my account and it cost me dearly in fees, charges and interest. These seemed to be the only reason my account went over my overdraft.

    I made a complaint and it is sorted now. How do Santander expect to recruit and retain customers like this? especially when they alienate customers when we try and tell them our customer experience and they don’t seem able to understand or process our reasonable human experience of their system without considerable time and effort on the part of the customer?

  17. wongiovanni says:

    I have a business account and a personal current account with Santander. 4 weeks ago, someone put a fraudulent check in my business account and since then, both my accounts are blocked!

    I dont understand why they blocked my accounts in the first place. Their security system is sh**t. Till today my accounts are still blocked. All my direct debts are bouncing.

    Every week I call the bank and they say the same thing! the security team is looking into it and that they will call you back tomorrow, which they never do. I asked to speak to the security team, but guess what, they dont have a telephone number, they only communicate by emails. When I asked them to give me their email, they can give out their emails coz of security reasons! What a lot of Bull****.

    I’m a really getting mad! What should I do? And will complaining to the Financial Ombudsman make any difference? And will Santander pay my late fees charges on my credit card? How do I claim compensation?

  18. miguel says:

    15 years as a costumer of Santander in Spain, never had any mayor problems. 3 years (nearly 4 now) with abbey in UK, I’ve had my account blocked without notice, I’ve being denied access to my account because I didn’t have my card with me (it had been swallowed by a cash machine) it took them almost 3 months to send me another one. I’ve been denied a current account without notice and without proved reasons. Duplication of payments, inappropriate behaviour from staff and the list goes on. Tomorrow I’ll be closing my account with them. I think my life will be much easier now

  19. phill heward says:

    i have a current account with these set of cretins.

    made a joint account application a year ago, it was set up in just my name to begin with. after 4 seperate visits to the branch by me and my wife with all documents it was never changed to joint status, we gave up trying in the end.

    on an almost monthly basis my debit card is blocked. the first i know about it is usually at the checkout at the shops, garage, resteraunt, anywhere highly inconvenient.
    i call the number on the back, type in my card number wait 10 mins in the que while i stand there looking a total twat. get through to an operator, then have to give them my card number again plus security questions. then get passed through to “security” where i have to give them my card number etc. then they call out a list of most of the transactions ive made since the last block. the last “suspicious” payment happened last night when i spent 20 pound at the local tescos.

    the card has been blocked 9 times now in a year. thats enough for me, im all done with santander. will be moving everything back to hsbc from today.

  20. ian johnston says:

    As an Ulsterman and one time fan of a local golfer who has done very well on the world stage I am also a Santander sufferer I am disgusted to see this young man trapped by this bank.

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