I’ve just watched a Despatches programme on Channel 4 about where we should be saving our money in these times when interest rates are at such an appalling low. It really was most unedifying.
Mrs D and I live on our investments. We were lucky when we sold our previous house and put a wad of money in the bank because we decided not to stick it into the stock market until we’d taken time to do our research. Damn good job we did because shortly afterwards the stock market took a dive in the financial crisis so wilfully denied by Gordon Brown. We were totally liquid at the time so even though we hadn’t made a shed load of money, we hadn’t lost any capital.
We have several deposits in banks and building societies always making sure we stay underneath the FSCS guarantee of £85,000. We spread it around to spread the risk and when a deposit matures I always do my homework to find the best rates. But where to look? Interestingly, I find Moneysupermarket the best site – provided that you untick the box that says ‘only show accounts I can open through moneysupermarket.’ Interestingly, Despatches agreed but rated confused.com as the worst. Not surprising if you’ve ever visited their site.
Most worrying was the second half of the program where they got reporters to ring around and ask about guarantees for their deposits. Santander came out badly never having heard of the FSCS. This didn’t surprise me as I refuse to deal with Santander after the total and utter balls up they made last time I dealt with them. At one point they threatened to throw me out of the local branch when I said that if they didn’t sort out the cock up they’d made within the next five minutes, I was going stand in the middle of the branch and scream until they got on with it.
In case you’re wondering Santander put my money into the wrong account, offered me an appointment to sort it out, then when I appeared said that there were no appointments as it was a drop in day, and then couldn’t find the paperwork and told me I’d got it wrong until I produced the photocopy of my application. Eventually, they gave me a cheque for my full balance and told me to piss off and never darken their doors again. Needless to say they couldn’t pay me to do so. If they offered me an account with 75% pa interest tomorrow, I’d still go elsewhere. They’re totally useless.
But who got the golden peanut award for not knowing their facts? RBS. Yes, RBS – the people who went bust and had to be bailed out by the government. Now if you’d expect anyone to know about the FSCS, it would be a bank bailed out by the government, right? Well, seemingly no. They’d never heard of it.
So my advise if you’ve got a few quid to put in savings, shop around all the sites, then look at the bank or society’s web site to check the facts, ensure they’re registered with the FSCS and then decide – because it seems that they all train their staff so badly there’s simply no point in asking them over the phone.
Surprised? Well, I’m not…