Worst bank for expats

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28 May 2016 12:11 by ehw Star rating in Western end of the C.... 41 posts Send private message

I've lived in Spain for 34 years and during that time I've had to work with many banks. The Cajas de Ahorros, [Savings Banks] used to be good until the government of José Luís Zapatero bankrupted most of them. Most of the ones that survived converted to being "proper banks", La Caixa is a good example. Of the "proper banks" Banco de Santander  perhaps has the highest profile, having managed to get itself called "the best bank in the world" on more than one occasion, by a financial magazine. Money fixes most things. My nephew took out a mortgage with Santander 12 years ago and was forced to open a current account and accept insurance. Despite saying he didn't want contents insurance he got it. The property was described as his "habitual residence" which it was for 5 years, then he moved back to the UK. All went well apart from the fact that after cancelling the contents insurance, every year on the renewal date they started to charge for it again. They would debit 3-5 months payments and then only credit some of them, always retaining 1 or 2 months installments. Seeking help from Santander in the UK is a waste of time, don't even think about it.

In November of last year Santander blocked the current account because, they said, he hadn't responded to a request to produce an ID document and a payslip. The problem is that I receive all communications from the bank and no request was received from Santander. The problem did not occur with 3 other bank accounts that he had, they requested the information, it was provided and no problem occurred. With Santander they prevented their client, my nephew, from paying his mortgage. My wife, [Spanish], is a signatory on the current account, so we tried phoning the bank, they NEVER answered the phone. In the end we had to phone another branch of Santander in the same town. They would phone the branch where my nephew had his account, and eventually that branch would phone my wife. We had to do that every time a mortgage payment fell due, and they would authorise a single transfer. In February this year my nephew came to Spain and went to the branch of Santander and produced the documents they needed. They told him that he was in deep trouble, that he had obtained a mortgage under false pretences, saying that it was his habitual residence when that is not true. Apparently that particular employee of Santander thought that a young man who took out a mortgage, subsequently got married and started a family, was going to remain in the same property for the entire term of the mortgage. Despite what the bank employee said my nephew was NOT in any trouble, deep or otherwise. While he was in the bank he asked what he needed to do to pay off the mortgage, and he was told. In February this year he decided to do that and communicated the fact to the bank. The same employee that had told him he was in "deep trouble" told him that he would have to present himself in the bank. My nephew argued the point and the bank employee insisted. Finally in March this year the bank employee admitted that it could be done online. On trying to do it a message appeared immmediately to the effect that for "security reasons" the password in use for many years for online banking had been cancelled. It took 3 weeks to sort that out, my nephew having to repeatedly telephone Santander in Madrid from the UK. He then tried to pay off the mortgage and found that he would have to make 2 payments on consecutive days. He did so but could not pay the final installment. They said that could be done in April. In April the bank collected an amount slightly less than the final payment, leaving an amount of 17.00 euros outstanding. In May my wife tried to pay that and was only able to pay 16.99 euros leaving an amount of ONE CÉNTIMO outstanding on the mortgage account. Yesterday my nephew was informed that that could not be paid until the third week of June. Meanwhile the bank will not issue the certificate that we need to go to the Notary and the Land Registry. Santander charged 320 euros for terminating the mortgage early. The next step will be to close the current account with Santander. Even the Notary says he doubts we will succeed without my nephew going in person to the branch, even with a zero balance maintenance charges will accumulate and Santander will charge for closing the account. Beware of Santander. Imagine sorting this problem out if you can't communicate in Spanish!


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18 Sep 2017 21:47 by IanCook Star rating in Cheshire/Riviera del.... 3 posts Send private message

Befor you close the mortgage account, just check they haven't mis-sold you the mortgage under the new EU rules and owe you a load of euros in compensation and interest, which would be a nice way to say "up yours!"

A meal without wine................. is Breakfast

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23 Sep 2017 14:22 by DuncanThickett Star rating. 20 posts Send private message

Great idea Ian

New hobby, spend the next 10 years in court. Ask Brian.

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23 Sep 2017 17:07 by briando55 Star rating in Yorkshire. 1702 posts Send private message

True Duncan.  

Ehw.    The consumer is definitely not king in Spain.  There must be many many businesses, banks, professionals and others who should never be allowed to trade, but somehow they can do, and profit almost at will.   

That experience sounds pretty grim, what a bunch of crooks!!!


Best wishes, Brian


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23 Sep 2017 19:22 by acer Star rating. 1042 posts Send private message

I would vote for Santander being the worst - they don't even pretend that they have respect for their customers.  I closed my account with them after a few weeks as I got fed up with the way they expect you to wait for hours whilst they have their chats and tried to charge me a large amount for receiving a cheque into my account.

For me Barclays were the best - so unlike their UK counterparts.

When they closed in Spain I changed to La Caixa who are generally helpful.  But I had the annoying experience of being asked lots of personal questions recently.  When I asked why?  I was told they were "updating their records".  At the end of the session I was asked to sign the screen.  I again asked why? and was told "just to confirm your answers are correct" - it was all in Spanish, which I can just about follow, but I declined to do so and walked out on the basis that I have not the slightest doubt there was an ulterior motive in these questions that was not in my best interests!

They have different moral standard - probably doesn't help that they are effectively unregulated.

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23 Sep 2017 20:20 by tteedd Star rating in Hertfordshire & Punt.... 889 posts Send private message

Started with La Ciaxa. They were great in Mojacar and OK in Mazarron for the first few years. But then the problems started. I sold my property and they continued to charge for the insurance. I did not go to Spain or use the account for over a year and the charges were excessive. When I complained they said the only thing I could do was close the account. I was told later that they had had a lot of trouble with Brits in the area and decided to charge for everything they could. To either compensate themselves or get rid of the trouble.

I moved to Banco Halifax Espania. Fantastic service. Trouble was that they were taken over by Lloyds who were OK but behaved more like a Spanish bank than a british one. Lloyds sold their operation to Sabadel so I was back to Spanish charges. However I was able to convert (as I aged) to a pensioners account with them and they have been reasonable if not good since.

None of them beleive you when you tell them that Britsh Banks don't charge, let you have multiple accounts and cards for nothing and pay a bonus if you don't overdraw.

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23 Sep 2017 21:10 by DuncanThickett Star rating. 20 posts Send private message

Hello tteedd

‘’I was told later that they had had a lot of trouble with Brits in the area and decided to charge for everything they could. To either compensate themselves or get rid of the trouble’’.

Told by who? Billy Bar Stool or official bank staff?. When has the bank ever told the truth?.

New advert shows Lloyds Bank is by Britain’s side

The advert tells the story of Lloyds Bank’s long-standing support for the people, businesses and communities of Britain – and how we’ve been by our customers’ sides for over 250 years.

‘’The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has issued its largest ever retail fine (£117m) to Lloyds Bank Plc, Bank of Scotland Plc and Black Horse Ltd (together Lloyds) for failing to treat their customers fairly when handling Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) complaints between March 2012 and May 2013’’.

Tune in for next week’s edition of Candid Camera.


This message was last edited by DuncanThickett on 23/09/2017.

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24 Sep 2017 12:44 by ads Star rating. 3026 posts Send private message

Effective and enforceable regulation is all in this scenario but also the need to consistently use reporting mechanisms intended to protect, and if these mechanisms in themselves are not consumer friendly, ineffective or easily accessible with regard to language constraints etc, then all of these realities need to be consistently  and enmasse fed back to MEPs ( in writing), to the Bank of Spain,  to the individual Banks in question, to act as effective evidence to highlight these major concerns that not only impact consumers but also do a disservice to the reputation of Spain.

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