While it's tempting to blog about being ripped off, there are some people who get it right – so below are two companies that have got me hooked.
First Direct bank came top in Moneywise's most recent Customer Service Awards, and I can see why. I joined the bank about three years ago, tempted by its £100 bonus for switching banks, and I won't be looking to switch again anytime soon. True, it pays no in-credit interest, but its customer service and online accessibility means it's a price worth paying. And what I've lost on interest, I've gained by taking out its Regular Saver Account, which offers existing customers a whopping 8% interest (it's currently not available but will come back on the market sometime in March).
Phone up, and someone actually picks up the phone the other end – no press 1 for this, or press 2 for that. Go online, and you don't have to remember lengthy account numbers – you just key in your user name and answer an easy-to-remember question.
Well done, First Direct, you are aptly named.
Next is my favourite credit card – the John Lewis MasterCard. With an APR of 16.9%, it's not cheap – but if you pay it off in full each month, it offers attractive perks to a John Lewis junkie like myself. There's also 0% interest on purchases during your first six months. I use it as my main credit card, earning points that are converted into John Lewis/Waitrose gift vouchers three times a year.
I've also received a handy John Lewis 2013 calendar with vouchers inside including a monthly treat of free tea and cake for two. Save about £5 each on a gooey cream slice and cappuccino or a scone and cup of tea. The best place to indulge in your free tea is at Peter Jones in Sloane Square, where you can enjoy a rooftop view of Knightsbridge while sitting and gazing at the yummy mummies and the blue-rinse brigade in their Barbours.
Rather like being a member of a club, cardholders can apply for tickets to events – and last year, I received two tickets to John Lewis's marquee in Kew Gardens for Kew The Music 2012. As well as dinner on the lawn, including a generous helping of delicious Eton Mess, we watched US band Pink Martini perform songs from around the world. After chatting to other cardholders over dinner, we ended up dancing in the aisles to the sound of pop-rock song Brazil. Now which other credit card can offer you that?