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.
I bought a jacket at the High Wycombe store and tried to return it today after 25 days for a refund. When I bought it I asked can I get a refund if I return it and was told yes. I wasn't told the limit for refunds is 14 days. I have 2 issues -1/ I think if you are going to allow refunds then it's not helpful to limit that to 14 days but 28 days for an exchange when others allow 28 days. That's confusing and if you can exchange it after 28 days why only 14 days for a refund. Seems to me designed to confuse and catch people out. 2/ when I asked for an exception because I was let down badly by their store card that cost me £75 in bank charges this week (see later) I was told "the till won't let me", so I asked for the manager who said the same "the till won't let me". Either the manager was lying or they do have such a draconian policy and their entire staff from top dog down are drones with no authority to give a little discretion. After the fiasco poor experience with their store card this week (PIN number didn't work when I first got the card, 1st statement did not arrive so I missed a payment, processed direct debit 3 days earlier than due date causing me £75 bank charges even though I paid the full balance 6 days earlier - and refused any compensation) I will never shop in Hof again. I must have spent £5k there in the last 3 yrs. I will now spend even more at JL since they "get it" with customers. A little discretion (makes us feel valued not just a statistic) can earn you huge goodwill and loyalty from customers. Shut the door firmly in my face and I will not forget, hence I will avoid Hof for as long as it sticks in my memory (will be years).
We ordered a slate house sign for our new house 5 yrs ago and had a good experience. We needed some signs for parking spaces 2 weeks ago and so went back. Good info on the website, friendly efficient service over the phone, good advice on choice, size and fixings etc, great price, good comms (told me what I needed when I needed to know and didnt over communicate like some online providers with a new comms engine like to!)., delivered exactly when I was told it would be. The icing on the cake was Kath was able to tell me the details ofour order 5 yrs ago so I could select the same lettering style. Excellent company, excellent signs.
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