Why Nationwide "banking" sucks generally

In my previous post, I set out the problems I had with Nationwide’s internet banking. In brief: it took me six months to get to the point where I could actually log in and do something with my own money. What I tried to do then was to transfer money into the HSBC account I share with my husband, so that we could pay our (Nationwide) mortgage. As my previous post makes clear, this proved impossible because Nationwide required me to use a card reader to carry out the transfer, and the card reader didn’t work.

So I decided to do the transfer by phone. It seemed a bit retro but the Royal Wedding was fast approaching and I thought I might as well experience a bit of 80s nostalgia. I rang up, gave my details and requested the transfer. No dice. The man I spoke to told me that transfers to non-Nationwide accounts can’t be done over the phone.

At this point I came very close to losing my rag. I couldn’t transfer money out of my account using internet banking, I couldn’t transfer it using phone banking – had Nationwide forgotten it was my money to do what I want with, not theirs to keep? The man on the phone was apologetic but didn’t seem to understand exactly why I was annoyed. He said that if I wanted to make the transfer, I would have to visit the branch and bring various bits of ID with me.

So I visited the branch, passport and utility bills in hand, to ask: “Please please pretty please with a cherry on top will you let me move my money?” No.

The branch refused to let me do the transfer at all, because “we’re not a bank”. And this is when I finally discovered the real problem. The woman behind the desk explained to me that building societies operate according to different rules from banks (which I knew), and this means that they can’t let customers do money transfers in the same way that a bank would (which I most definitely did not know). So although some building society accounts are described as “current accounts”, they operate very differently from banks’ current accounts.

Perhaps it’s common knowledge that building society current accounts don’t work like bank current accounts. But it’s not knowledge that I had, and it certainly was not explained to me when I opened my Nationwide current account. Perhaps this communication failure falls into the category of “things that we thought were too obvious to explain [but weren’t obvious to the customer]”. But perhaps it’s an organisational choice not to make this fact clear. After all, who would knowingly switch to a current account that makes it so difficult to move your own money around?

I chose Nationwide thinking that a building society account would be just like a bank account but with bonus mutual fluffiness. It took me six months to find out that it wasn’t, because the failure of Nationwide’s internet banking acted as a smokescreen for the bigger problem. I thought that poor usability and security theatre were preventing me from using Nationwide’s internet banking, but in reality they were just preventing me from seeing that there is no Nationwide internet banking and there probably never will be.


Ganesh Sittampalam (not verified)

Fri, 2012-05-25 07:28

Was this a normal Nationwide current account? I've had one for years and have never had any trouble making outgoing or incoming BACS transfers (and now "Faster Payments").

Yes, it was a FlexAccount, which I understood to be the default Nationwide current account at the time. I have no idea why your experience has been so wildly different from mine; I can only repeat that everything I've written on this subject is a true account of my own experience, with no embellishment or exaggeration whatsoever.

(Have deleted your duplicate posting.)

I too just switched to the Natiowide and was for a week or two having now problems paying bills and transfering money. But then they introduced a card reader. And since then internet banking has been unuseable. As they never sent me the card reader.

When I used the Internet Banking system to complain that I couldn't pay my bills. The internet customer services said don't worry you can use telephone banking. Ofcourse just like Kate the telephone customers told me they wouldn't arrange a transfer for me.

I just read how many Nationwide Customers have been stranded abroad when the new internet banking system was introduced


One thing that makes the Nationwide a bank. Is it directors. Many worked for Barclays. And just like all British Bankers they expect and get multi-million pound salaries. For what? Introducing banking systems that dont' work. It's pathetic realy that we live in such an incompitant and corrupt world.


well i m fed up with them as well .. same thing happened to me about registering i entered wrong pass number thinkin its my password  n tats 3 tries n u r out of the internet banking  damn .. neway it will  soon be my third time waiting in the post for the letter to arrive .... last thing i went to the bank asking for them to send me a bank statement through post they told me tat i chose online banking so i should unchoose my option of bank statement by email online and back to letter by post .. but the main problem is i m unable to log in so how could i go to online banking n cancel the option when i myself with my id went to the bank .. tat's lame customer service in my view  being helpless just asking for my own  monthly bank statement ..i dunno how long will i last with this bank ..