I have been contacted by someone who had taken out a Bounce Back Loan with Starling Bank on or around the 14th of May, he took out a modest loan from that lender who paid it out on the very same day.
Fast forward to November, when the Bounce Back Loan top up facility became available, he then logged into his Starling Bank online banking to request a top-up of his loan.
Starling Bank have a system in place whereby when you do log in and click on the relevant part of their online banking you will be told the maximum amount (if any) you can apply for by way of a top-up.
That applicant has stated that he decided to claim the maximum amount that was displayed, and duly filled in the application form was then asked to sign and complete the respective EchoSign etc and was then paid out the top up funds, and all was well.
Some time later he discovered his account was locked and he could not gain access to his funds held in his accounts with Starling Bank and tried to contact their support team.
The bank however would not give him the reason for his account being locked, and obviously being left without funds he started to get worried made worse by the lack of a decent response from Starling Bank.
He submitted an official complaint with the bank and sought the assistance of his MP, who did contact the bank on his behalf.
It is not long after doing the latter a response did come from the Executive Office of Starling Bank, they claim they discovered he has claimed an amount in excess of what he was entitled to when applying for his top-up, and suspect he had somehow “tampered with” their online banking platform to do so.
They have now completed their investigation and have, in their words “come to the conclusion that is it highly likely that he deliberately circumvented our online application form to obtain a larger loan than he was entitled to”.
They also claim that the customer, had subjected Starling Bank and I quote “ to a tirade of inappropriate messages on Twitter. His messages are not limited to air his dissatisfaction with the restriction of his account but have also become offensive to our team and our CEO.”
“This is simply unacceptable and shows the kind of person (REMOVED NAME) really is”
“In view of all of this, we have defaulted (REMOVED NAME) loan and we are closing his accounts with us. We understand your concern for your constituent, but rest assured that all the measures we have taken in this case are in line with our rights under our current account terms and conditions and are justified in light of the security threat (REMOVED NAME) presented to our online platform.
One has to be quite taken aback by what Starling Bank are saying, they accuse the customer of allegedly somehow hacking their system, and then leaving him bereft of accessing his money for the best part of a week and not giving him any explanation on why that is, then they get upset when he starts calling them out allegedly in public via Social Media on their lack of support.
I have asked Starling Bank for comment, they have so far declined to do so. For the record I have seen multiple technical errors from Starling Bank regarding the way they have operated their Bounce Back Loan scheme over the last 7 months, some of which I had to personally alert them to and they acknowledged and fixed.
Therefore, one must wonder if the above was one of their errors too or whether the applicant did manage to somehow “circumvent” their online banking platform. Either way they need to urgently ensure their online banking platform is safe and secure.
For the record when locking someones accounts surely it is common decency to communicate with them instantly and let them know what is going on accurately, much more so when your bank insisted way back when that customers must use your bank for their transactions, not keep them in limbo for a week without access to their money.
Any other Bank CEO’s reading this we are in the midst of a pandemic, remember that, COMMUNICATE with your customers and do not keep ignoring them or subjecting them to hours on hold or getting copy and paste replies when they need assistance.
This is also the same CEO who has been heavily promoting their new book in which it could be said they are saying “hurty” things about a competitor.
Time will tell what the final outcome on this is I suppose.