I bank with – an ‘internet bank’ owned by the Co-Operative Bank. They boast ethical investing, good customer service, and I love the fact they have a UK call centre (even if it is in Manchester!).

All is good. Except – well – they aren’t great at online banking. Why? Well – it is impossible to get an accurate idea of how much money you (or in my case don’t) have. Recent transactions can take days to appear, which when you sail close to the wind as I do is very annoying. Smile have said that if you ever want an exact account balance I can  ring them or check at an ATM, but why the flock should I? If someone in their call centre can see the exact in’s and out’s of my account online – why on earth can’t I. They are an INTERNET bank, not a telephone bank, or a high street bank, so why should it take a phone call – or a plod down to the cash point? I want to fire up my browser and know exactly how I stand.

 This sheer inability to show transactions could be very costly.  I knew I was close to my limit, after transferring some money out of my account, but this actually (unbeknown to me) took me right over my limit. The fail is – I shouldn’t be able to transfer out money I don’t have – it should TELL me. So today I got a message and a £30 charge for a Direct Debit failing (Direct Debit was for £6.80). So I rang them first thing (after a ten minute wait ‘queuing’) to argue it out with them, thankfully they have reversed the charge – but it shouldn’t have worked like that in the first place!

So…. in a fit of rage, I’ve opened an account elsewhere. Lets hope they do better.

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