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I am the treasurer for a small charity that supports bell ringers, and we bank with Nationwide. Some weeks ago I received a notice saying the building society was closing all its treasurer and charity accounts by the end of June, so we would have to find suitable banking arrangements elsewhere.
Finding another company to bank with in this time frame is stressful enough. I completed some forms that Nationwide sent me regarding the closure and took these into my local branch. I said I wanted to withdraw the £400 remaining in the account.
I was told that I could not withdraw the funds there and then; I would have to return three hours later to speak to the team handling the closure process.
Getting to the branch is difficult for me as I am disabled. It is located in a pedestrianized area requiring a long and painful walk. When I explained I was not physically up to a second visit, I was told that I could wait at the branch, but it would be three hours before I could be seen. A telephone appointment was not offered instead. At this point I had no alternative but to leave, because I physically could not sit there.
The account is due to be closed in a matter of days and any money left in it will be lost forever. I feel I am effectively being told to visit the branch again or let the charity lose £400. It seems there has been a complete lack of sympathy and understanding shown to my disability.
– HW, Herefordshire
These so-called “treasurer’s trust” accounts were launched in the 1980s and closed to new business more than six years ago due to low demand. Nationwide said it has been raising awareness of the closures through conversations in the branch, while letters have been sent out to its “most active” customers. However, you say you only received a letter in the past few weeks.
Panicked, as you didn’t have long to sort the issue, you felt that applying by post was too risky if you were to meet the deadline. So you made a long and painful journey to the branch, only to be told you couldn’t withdraw money over the counter.
You say you were told you would have to wait three hours for another appointment, but Nationwide is adamant that it was 45 minutes. Whatever the case, you were flustered and in pain, and waiting wasn’t really an option.
Following my involvement, the branch manager has contacted you to apologize for your experience. Unfortunately, you left your account closure forms in the branch and they have subsequently been lost. Nationwide posted you new ones with a prepaid envelope so you could complete the account closure by post. You have been offered £25 in compensation, and a check for £400 to your charity is on its way to you.
More than anything, you say, you are just grateful to have some personal support after receiving what you feel was callous and discriminatory treatment from a big corporation. You will cash your check with Lloyds, the charity’s new bank, when it arrives. I hope you have a better experience there.