‘An absolute nightmare’: Readers on their experiences with Irish banks

One customer spent more than 18 hours on hold waiting to speaking to someone

We asked readers to share their experiences of dealing with Irish banks. Here are just a section of the responses.

“I had an absolute nightmare dealing with AIB,” writes Suzanne. “I was trying to put a hold on my loan repayments for a three-month period while I was unemployed. It took seven weeks to finally get approval, by which time I’d had to borrow money from a relative just to cover it. I spent over 18 hours on hold waiting to speak to someone during that time. I was eventually told I had approval, but they put in writing in the documentation that I had to repay the whole loan in one go after the postponement period.

“I rang to explain I couldn’t do this, and could they put in writing that this was not the agreement and they said, no, that was the way it had to be done in documentation, but not to worry, they’d never expect me to do that in reality [and] I just need to phone them at the end of the period to re-explain my situation again! I had no choice but to sign. Just to add insult to injury, I had to go into a branch to sign the documents. I had to repeat the story four times, to four different members of staff, in the middle of a busy bank floor — and one of them laughed at me he thought it was so funny and complicated.”

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A reader called Catriona does voluntary work with an Irish-language youth club, which she says is “kind of like a Gaeltacht course but in a youth club format”.

The club recently applied to open an account with Bank of Ireland. “We filled in the reams of paperwork [and] one of the things we had to provide was the constitution or rules of our organisation.”

Catriona did all that was asked of her and handed it to the local branch of Bank of Ireland.

A few days later she got a call to say the club constitution/rules “were in Irish and neither he nor anyone on his compliance team could read Irish and I would have to provide him with an English translation. I pointed out that there must be someone in Banc na hÉireann who can read Irish, look at our constitution and confirm for him — ‘Yes, that’s a typical constitution for a youth club’. He said there wasn’t. I asked him to see if he could find someone in Banc na hÉireann who could read our very ordinary, uncontroversial youth-club constitution. That was July 8th. I’m still waiting to hear back and am not hopeful we’ll get our account even though all our finances and compliance matters are fully in order. ‘Banc na hÉireann’ my eye.”

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We also heard from Paul. “I joined Bank of Ireland as Ulster Bank is closing,” he says. “I went to the branch, where there was a long queue for one staff member (let’s call her Sharon) and none for the other as she was on the desk for foreign currency. I had a UK cheque to lodge and I needed to verify my identity for online banking. So, happy days, I went to the desk that was free. She lodged the UK cheque and told me I had to use the in-branch phone to verify my identity. As I walked away I turned and asked ... How will they know it’s me over the phone? Reply: ‘You need to check that first with my colleague Sharon!’ I just went home.”

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It wasn’t all bad, mind you. “Changed from Ulster Bank to AIB,” wrote Orna. She was given an eight-week waiting time in a local branch to make an appointment to do the changeover. She “was then recommended AIB hub in Dundrum Shopping Centre — appointment made within 24 hours, new account set up, so good in every way.”