Just switched to First, they've been great so far. Really pleasant on the phone. I've either gotten straight through to who I need, or if I've had to wait, they've let me know where I am in the queue and how long to expect. Set up my basic account over the phone and then my savings stuff I set up online. All super easy. I have no problems with the online service, it's a lot better than my last bank. (mind you, that was co-op, and their online service is really awful) The savings accounts have far better interest than I got before as well. I've also got my savings set up to automatically move into accounts, one at the start of the month and then one "sweep" at the end of money left over, and I've got text message alerts so I know this all goes smoothly. Fantastic!
Just bear in mind - if you are using the switch service you should call them back as soon as your paperwork arrives in the post. The paperwork for switching is apparently a generic document now, so it has no specific instructions as to what you need to do. Well, you need to phone them to confirm your switch date - and the sooner you phone, the sooner the switch can happen.
Joined about a month ago and the customer service staff couldn't have been more helpful. All the details and subsequent requests were dealt with promptly and post received very quickly. Would certainly recommend to anyone based on the customer service alone!
I recently switched from HSBC to first direct and it's all been handled brilliantly. I decided to switch as they had a £100 incentive, I was told I would receive this 28days after I pay in £1000, but actually received it 5days after! All DD's were switched accordingly, I wasn't expecting my list of payees would be set up but it was. I actually can't fault them. I particularly like the way you don't need to type in account no.s etc just to speak to customer services, it's just one call and they take you through security. For people that have moaned their tel no is 0845 what bank isn't?!
While FD are by no means perfect, I challenge any reasonable customer who fits their criteria (forget it if you are a student, that's obviously not FD target market) to name a better bank. In my opinion the online experience is good, nice simple interface, no annoying card reader required to move your money like Barclays, Nationwide and a host of other banks; good telephone staff who are mature, intelligent and friendly and in the UK; good overdraft (no interest on the 1st £250). On the negative side they don't have the best cash back credit cards, but I can't think of much else. HSBC on the other hand is a different story but as a First Direct customer you don't have to deal with HSBC except in rare circumstances. I have been with FD in total for over 20yrs after getting frustrated with Barclays charges as a graduate. I moved to Nationwide for 2 years about 5 yrs ago after First direct took a month to send me a replacement credit card but the overall experience was far far worse. I am known by my friends to be very critical and I would recommend First Direct without reservation. I read most of the negative reviews here as being from people who are either bitter about being rejected by First Direct, immature and unrealistic in what they expect from a company that let's face it is in business to make money or people who just haven't yet experienced what other banks are like.
The first problem was that I tried to apply for an account and their website was experiencing problems. For an online bank, I expect their website to be reliable and stable. Bad first impression. I submitted an email to highlight the issue and ask when the website would be functional again. After 9 days I finally got a response simply stating that I could apply for an account now and that "There are no reported issues with the website today." Considering first direct are an online bank, the online service is absolutely terrible.
I am glad i kept my Nationwide Flex Plus account. I cannot believe First Direct are the only bank that reports to credit reference agencies that they return DDs which affects your credit score. I called them to say monies were paid in on the day the DDs were due given that i was in the middle of transferring over to them. I was informed as long as the monies were in the account by 23.45 you will be fine. Now they are saying 15.30. Make your minds up. I hope the calls are recorded to back this up. The representative explained yes this is what they do, we return a DD and we let the CRAs know. This is bad practice. The representative kept saying I appreciate your opinion re. i do not like this policy. She was rude and I asked for the account to be shut down and cancel all DDs. I have a clean credit report and FD are happy to ruin this with a stupid policy and they are the only bank that actually report to CRAs of bounced DDs. I will be making an official complaint, also when i see these missed DDs showing on my CRA file, I will continuously complain and complain to both FD and CRAs to get these removed. I will not take this standing up. I want to keep my credit file clean. Absolutely disgusted. Also I am not entitled to the incentive pay out due to not taking their account transfer service, even I selected this on the application at the time of applying, they purposely ignore this to get out paying you the £125. very annoyed and I will continuously complain to their executive office until this is resolved. I will be closing this account with no hesitation.
Wanted information regarding swapping account and my eligibility for joining incentive - a very simple question asked through their secure messaging service (as other option was to call 0845 number via my mobile which would be very expensive) - first response was after nearly 2 weeks, didnt answer my questions ; second response was after one day, to which i immediately replied, this e mail took a further 2 weeks for them to respond to. This e mail still didnt answer my question. I therefore replied again asking the same simple question; they have still not replied to this after more than a month.
Due to this time wasting i missed the 3 month deadline to complete the account swap and therefore missed the joining money incentive. When i called to explain this was due to their inability to answer my simple question and that i'd only missed by a couple of weeks while waiting for a response it took 40 minutes of going round in circles to finally be rudely told they would make no exception and that they were not at fault (though they would offer the staff who replied to my e mails training - presumably so they dont make errors in future).
Annoying not being able to pay anything in via ATMs
Online banking interface is poor
Secure messaging service is not simple enough - very difficult to know exactly to which department you should send to (and then they dont respond)
Dont bother - bank with nationwide instead, they know how to treat their customers
A number of reviewers have said that they can't understand some of the low scores that reviewers have submitted for First Direct (FD). That suggests that FD must do some things well but my review suggests they've still got plenty of room for improvement. I've had an account with another bank for 40 years but recently they've had some well publicised computer problems so I thought I'd try FD and see if they were any better. As my existing account is a joint account with my wife, we agreed to make the FD account a joint account. So, I went online and completed a pretty lengthy application and then my wife filled in her bit. The system said we would hear back within a few days. Nothing happened so 5 days later I rang them. Before I did that both my wife and I checked both our e-mail accounts and our junk mail boxes to check nothing had gone astray. As I'd kept the application reference number, the customer service lady found my application quickly. She then asked me if my wife had ever had a First Direct account. I was able to tell her that my wife had had a savings account some years before which she'd closed once they played the usual banking game of offering an uncompetitive interest rate once the initial special offer expired. The response was "Ah. Well, in that case, you can't open the account over the internet. You can only open it over the phone. So, we've cancelled your application. Would you like to complete an application over the phone now?" I asked why I hadn't been told about this requirement at any stage during or after the application process to which the reply was "We'd have sent you an e-mail when we cancelled your application". When I pointed out that I was certain they hadn't, it was then suggested that they had sent my wife an e-mail. When this too was rebutted, I was asked again if I'd like to complete an application form over the phone. I said that I was outraged that they had trashed 40 minutes of my effort on the internet simply because my wife had once had an account with them. They had failed to point out their requirements before I completed the form and they had then failed to advise me of what they had done. Since I had originally been looking for a better service from a bank, it was clear that I had been looking in the wrong place. At this point, the customer service lady became more conciliatory. She suggested that she could transcribe all the data from the original application form if this was agreed by her manager but she would still need to talk to my wife once she had done so. I couldn't get any comprehensible explanation as to the purpose of talking to my wife given that this wouldn't have been needed if she had never had an account with FD. However, I presumed this might be some sort of control to prevent "identity theft" so I agreed that she should go ahead and talk to her manager and phone me when she had done that. When she phoned back, she had recovered all my data and input it into their system but she had been told that she was required to recollect all the data (taking about 20-30 minutes) about my wife over the telephone even though she had it all in front of her! As my wife was heavily into catering arrangements for Christmas, she could have spared a few minutes for FD to confirm her identity but just didn't have the time spare to provide all the information yet again. After this experience, I suspect there's a lot more to the negative reviews than some of your reviewers seem to think.
Switched to FD and today found out today they forgot to tell my DD complaines so I have late fees credit file will also be affected . FD couldn't care less they don't know when my account will be sorted they can't tell me anything as they don't know !!! Admitted mistakes took them 2 weeks to sort and they didn't even realise for a week it had happened !! Just awful don't move be warned ! They can't keep up to the new account switch service !!!
We ( my wife & I )were tempted by the £125 and set about switching from HSBC to First Direct (also part of HSBC !!!) Tried setting up a Joint Account - What a hassle - I have read all the comments here - will stick where we are - after all most of our banking is online. If HSBC have been happy with us having a Joint Account for 23 years why should we now have the expense of getting certified copies of passports to switch to their First Direct branch?? Cannot understand why they get a few good reviews (posted by employees??!!)
Very poor customer service - they only email you with robotic templates, don't get back to you and give you the most stupid reasons for doing all the work yourself. Their 24/7 support claim is a scam, as their own email says "Lines are open 8am to 9pm Monday to Friday, 8am to 5:30pm Saturday and 9am to 5:30pm Sunday." Had to call them each time to get a reaction and just gave up on my switching application. I am not going to a so-called "bank" that treats people like rubbish.
You call someone and the phone is answered; no waiting in queues pressing multiple options.
I've transferred over my main account, savings, credit card and even taken my mortgage with them now. All were opened with no issues. I opened the credit card from my online banking and they asked me what I wanted my limit to be and it was opened instantly; no forms.
I even got £150 for 3 referrals, put into my account : )
Cannot understand the low score, these guys are fantastic, switch was easy.
You call the phone number and wow within a couple of rings a person YES AN ACTUAL PERSON answers you call, if it is more than 3 or 4 rings they apologise for keeping you, they answer your questions, if they cannot the apologise and pass you to someone who can help.
Never heard of a high street bank with such a good set up.
HSBC staff at the branches are so helpful too.
Cannot pick a single fault with them.
Negative reviews are easy to post and when you are unhappy you moan ! Positive reviews mean you need to take time out just to say it is actually as good as the PR guy tells you it is.
Opened an account this Tuesday - no details given about switching - had to call - kept waiting on phone. Eventually got through and set up security only to be told that due to a long waiting time for switching they could call me back and was offered an appointment for Thursday 3.30pm . At 3.30pm got no call back - called again and then advised that they do not do call backs ........I asked to speak to complaints and given excuse after excuse for their basically poor service. Cancelled my account and going to Halifax. Beware
Tried to set up a simple account to pay my wages in, I need a letter from tax office and any id I use like my driving license has to be certified by a solicitor at my expense, they tell me this is normal? 15 minutes in the high street and I got my account with someone else.
On the 5th July I left a review, which you can read below, explaining the problems we had trying to set up an switch online. At that point we gave up and thought never again. However, our current bank, HSBC are so poor - no 24hr banking unless you pay for it and call centres in India - we tried out of sheer desperation to switch again.
We ran into exactly the same problems, plus some others, but with frequent 'phone calls eventually they were sorted and we got the myriad of security details sorted. We were told the switching date and that we would receive 'phone calls to keep us updated with progress. I should point out that both my husband and myself are very experienced at online banking, purchasing etc. so if it's not easy for us......!!
First thing to arrive was the welcome pack, which we read carefully. The letter told us to 'phone to set up security details. I 'phoned to explain that we had already done this and were told that there was nothing else we had to to, it would all go ahead and the switch would go ahead on the previously agreed date.
Next to arrive was the debit card, then the PIN, and finally, on the switching date itself, the secure key arrived. We duly logged in to find the account empty. We had not received any of the promised 'phone calls, and worst suspicions were confirmed when I telephoned, on,y to be told that I had been given the wrong information, that when I 'phoned before they should have checked the name on my old account and read yet more information, terms and conditions to me. As they didn't do this, the account was not opened! We then went through all these formalities and I have been told that the account will be opened in seven working days!
The temptation to cancel was enormous, but we hate HSBC and have no love for the other banks, of which we have had experience over the years , so stuck with it. Yes, it is good that they have free 24hr banking, there are no press button menus the call centres are in the UK and when you have to hold on, often for many minutes, the switchboard keeps coming back to apologise and reassure, but the actual service is NOT efficient. I received profuse apologies and they did agree to increase the switching "reward" paid. They also said that the various 'phone calls would be listened to and training given where appropriate, but that's an awful lot of training that needs to be given!!!
I wait with fear and trepidation to see what, if anything, actually happens on the switching date, meanwhile, of course, we still feel in a kind of limbo! And as for the future........
I hope that the people who say they don't know why people have given poor reviews, and how easy it is to complain, now have a better understanding of the problems this bank creates and why we are so disenchanted. I can and do write positive reviews when and where possible, and am more than happy to do so. I sincerely wish I could have done with this bank. Time will tell of I am able to in the future.
REVIEW POSTED ON 5th. JULY
My husband and I wanted to open a current account with first direct. We were told that if we do it over the 'phone it will take 30-40 minutes each! We have therefore tried to open one online. First of all there are five different links to click on: "switch today" takes you to a second page, where you click on "apply for a joint account." This takes you back to the first page! I went on like this round and round in circles, so tried clicking on "Learn More." This takes you to a page headed 1st Account, where you click on "apply." Then you get a little pop-up, where you click on "apply for a joint account." This takes you to another pop-up page where you have to enter the characters to prove you're not a robot. Enter these and click on "proceed" and you are taken to yet another page where you are asked if you want to open a complimentary account. The click at the bottom of this page finally gets you to the application form!
Having finally negotiated all of this I began completing the application. I clicked on all the various links such as terms and conditions etc. all of which opened in a separate window - except for one near the end, which obviously didn't and which I mistakenly closed. I realised that I had closed the application.
My husband, meanwhile had immediately received an e-mail from 1st Direct giving him an application reference number, so I used this to try to get back in. It brought up my name but not much else, so I telephoned. Apparently there is no way of getting back in to an application once you leave! I was told that customer services has raised this issue before, but nothing has been done. The only way to go forward was for her to delete the existing application, which she could see onscreen, and for me to start all over again! I was assured that as I had read all the conditions etc. it wold not take so long! The time is taken by all the different figures, such as gross income, bank account no. etc. etc.
No wonder they offer you £100 to switch! Despite this and despite the 6% regular savings account they have, which is the main reason we were switching to them, we will not now be bothering.
Left Santander after years of cock ups and overdraft charges to come to first direct. Biggest selling point was free overdraft up to £250.
Been with them for over a year now and I can't rate them high enough. Service has always been top quality, singing up to them was easy and their internet banking system is one of the easiest I've used!
I find it hard to believe that this bank only score 5.1 they are the best bank ever. Having banked with several banks in the past First Direct don't just beat them they blow them away on service. When you pick up the phone you actually get to speak to a person!! The phone is generally answered within a couple of rings and they have never once not been able to answer my enquiry.
I left my high street bank (sponsor of the premier league) when I took a half day off work to go in to the branch and they were closed for staff training. Unbelievable!! This was a long time ago and I went home that night and set up a new account with 1stD at 23:00. Since that time I have had one or two small gripes but the overwhelming experience has been an exemplar of top quality customer service. Some of their products are not brilliantly competitive but so don't buy them. They don't spend ages trying to sell me things and calling them is almost always a pleasurable experience. Well done them.
I have always had a good experience with the day to day side of dealing with First Direct. However, my experience has shown that if there is anything above a minor problem, you are quickly reminded that you are dealing with a cynical, irresponsible large financial organization. I had the misfortune to take out their legal expense insurance. It covers for £1,500 solicitors costs - that's all. Not the £50,000 advertised. The "warehouse claims processing" agreements they have in place for your legal issues are designed to maximize their own profits, helping you unfortunately comes third place. Even when I pointed out to them that my contractual rights under the policy had clearly been breached, what did they do? Write a letter saying "oh yes so they were - write to the financial ombudsman" The case is still waiting with the ombudsman after a year. No doubt FD think they will get away with the typical £80 fine from the ombudsman. Such a piss-take in fact that even though its a bit of a pain to change banks, I feel I have to. Do not touch their insurance with a barge pole and I hope that the only issues you have with them are around things like a £20 overdraft fee. If it really matters unfortunately you you will see their true colours - not pretty.