The 'un' Co-operative Bank

12 March 2012


A few months ago, I tried to switch to the Co-operative Bank's current account, enticed by the offer that it would credit my new account with a £200 opening bonus. The process required me to fill in two forms – an account-opening form and a switching form, whereby any direct debits would be redirected from my old bank to the new account. The switching form also asked whether I was already an account holder with the Co-operative and I gave details of a current account I had with Smile – one of its sister banks.I then received email confirmation that the switching process was going ahead. A couple of weeks later, I emailed the bank requesting a progress report on my application and was informed that, because "email was insecure", I should telephone for further details. That telephone call resulted in a protracted conversation, with the bank refusing to honour its offer of £200, and I stopped the account opening process as a result.I know customers rate the Co-op for service but this experience leaves me dissatisfi ed, disillusioned and annoyed that the bank launched an initiative and then refused to honour this agreement.
David Stonehouse/Spilsby


We were surprised to receive a complaint about the Co-operative Bank, given how good its customer service track record is in general – it features frequently in our Customer Service Awards as one of the top service providers.

We sent David’s complaint to the bank to see if it could unravel just what had gone wrong with his application process. The Co-op explains that David’s application to switch was successful but that he wasn’t eligible for the £200 reward.

Apparently, David filled out the switching form incorrectly. "Mr Stonehouse completed an online switching form with the intention of opening a new Co-operative Bank account to take advantage of the offer, but he provided details of his Smile account as the account he wanted to switch to. Therefore, albeit not his intention, according to his switching form he wanted to make his Smile account his primary account, rather than open a new Co-operative Bank one."


The £200 offer was only open to new customers or to customers who already had one of four Co-op current accounts – Privilege Premier Current Account, Privilege Account, Current Account Plus or Standard Account – and wanted to make them their primary current account. The Smile current account was not included in the offer.

While the Co-op maintains it has behaved correctly and not done anything wrong, it has agreed to pay David the £200 he would have received for switching accounts.

In its statement, the bank explains: "Although we believe the terms of the offer were made clear on the online switching form, as Mr Stonehouse is a longstanding customer of The Co-operative Bank (Smile), and in recognition of any confusion caused, we have made him a £200 payment as a gesture of goodwill."

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