Banks queueing up for your call

Dido Sandler finds out what is persuading many to turn to banking by telephone

JANE STEADMAN doesn't like making mistakes or being on the receiving end of them. A freelance fashion designer, she offers style, accuracy and reliability and expects the same in return.

Ms Steadman, who specialises in knitwear, also looks for these qualities in her bank. When Midland Bank made one error too many on her account four years ago, she switched to First Direct, its independent telephone banking arm.

Since then she has been delighted: ``They are more friendly and helpful than my old bank. They answer the phone quickly, and the operators have enough responsibility to give you an answer immediately. You don't have to wait while they ask someone else.''

In recent years, about 8 per cent of people have chosen, to open telephone bank accounts. By the end of the decade, it is estimated that 25 per cent of banking will be telephone-based. Banks are pitching in to launch new services.

Last week, J Rothschild Assurance, a life insurance company, announced its own link-up with Citibank. A few months ago, Alliance & Leicester, one of Britain's largest building societies, launched a telephone-based current account.

There are two types of facility available. So-called "discrete" banking operations are available from First Direct and Bank of Scotland's Banking Direct. This is where the full range of banking services - including sharedealing and mortgages in the case of First Direct - are available from one source, by phone.

The others are integrated with regular current accounts. They have over- the-counter as well as telephone banking. Most phone facilities offer 24-hour banking, virtually every day of the year.

Simple transactions such as checking balances, setting up direct debits, or paying bills, are dealt with over the phone.

Telephone banking services target the more affluent, with First Direct and Banking Direct aimed at better-educated adults. NatWest Primeline requires a minimum salary of £18,000, and J Rothschild one of £25,000.

When choosing a telephone bank account, it pays to shop around. A 9 per cent overdraft rate is available from Alliance & Leicester, with similar charges at First Direct.

Check call costs: some banks offer free calls, others charge a local rate. Check the number of cash machines and the availability of ordering services for foreign currency. NatWest Actionline and the Nationwide Home Banking Service have a computerised system with voice or touch-tone responses - a system that is limited to more straightforward transactions.

Security is tight. Before access to banking services is permitted, PIN numbers, passwords and personal questions are used to establish identity. Alliance & Leicester checks suspicious movements on accounts.

Changing accounts is usually easy. With the Co-operative Bank, for instance, one needs only to complete an application form for an employer to be advised of the new account. The Co-op will then take care of transferring direct debits and standing orders.

What's at the end of the line

Bank/BS Services

Alliance & Leicester

0645 111111 ABCDEFGHI

Alliance & Leicester Giro

0645 365365 ABCDEFGHI

Barclays Bank Barclaycard

0800 222800 ABCDEFGHI

Bank of Scotland Phoneline

0345 801801 ABCDE*FGHI

Bank of Scotland Banking Direct

0800 805805 ABCDE*FGHI

Bank of Scotland HOBS

0131 442 7700 - 0171 601 6777 ABDE*FG

Britannia BS Careline

0345 616616 ABCDGH

Clydesdale Telebank

041 223 4553 ABDEF

Clydesdale Telebank Telephone

041 223 5550 AEF

Co-operative Armchair Banking

0345 212212 ABCDEFGHI

First Direct

0800 222000 ABCDEFGHI

Halifax Homebanking

0422 316316 AE*F

Lloyds Bank (Pilot programme)

Lloyds Line 0345 179179 ABCDEFGHI

National & Provincial Max

0282 831777 AEF

NatWest Actionline

071 782 9696 ABE*FG

NatWest Primeline**

0345 555000 ABCDE*FGHI

Nationwide Home Banking

0793 456888 AE*

Northern Rock Homebanking

Local branch A

Royal Bank of Scotland

Direct Banking 0345 222345 ABCDEFGHI

Fleming/Save & Prosper

0800 282101 ABCEFHI

TSB Phone Bank

0500 758758 ABCDEFGHI

A Check cleared balance, order statement

B Order cheque book, paying-in book

C Order replacement PIN for a card

D Notify change of address

E Pay bills

F Transfer funds between accounts

G Change standing orders, direct debits

H Stop cheque

I Cancel and replace stolen card

(* On written instructions **Open to those earning £18,000+pa)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Contracts Executive - City of London

£35000 - £37000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Contracts Executive - Cit...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

Recruitment Genius: Call Centre Debt Collector - Multiple Roles

£21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join ...

Guru Careers: Financial Director / FD / Senior Finance Manager

Up to 70k DOE: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Financial Director ...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen