Paying off credit cards is certainly one of the best business models for any bank out there. In order to avoid high annual interest rates it certainly is wise to refinance the debt if you don’t want to be stuck by wasting money on monthly extra payments. So I had left a balance on one of my cards from previous holidays, birthday gifts etc and wanted to clear that up by refinancing.
Naturally, being from the online world, the first step is to look into getting a great deal online by low interest rates and flexible payment schemes. And had the high hope to get it all done and dusted within a 2 weeks timeframe. However, just a simple test already showed how those hopes where quickly dashed and left some questionable impressions on the practices of online banks.
So this is what happened…
Show me where the money is
Since I had used the comparison services of check24.de before (and gotten a good deal with them for my car) I thought I straight dive into the world of online loans with the current price comparison market leader.
And, quell surprise, they even had my desired amount as an the top monthly offer: € 3.000,- at an interest rate of 2,78%.
“Good stuff, then” I thought and proceeded with the search.
The candy store of online loans
Can’t fault the folks at check24 (and they are actually blameless in this) for making it easy to pick & go, like a shiny online candy store.
So how about we try the two top offers then and see how that works for a test, right?
Candiate No. 2: Barclaycard
Let’s actually start in reverse order with Barclayard since I am also a customer of them and really never had any issues. So I picked the € 3.000 as the desired loan amount and then proceeded to the next page.
Barclaycard seems to think “But you neeeeed 7.000, not 3.000″
No matter what I try: going back, entering again, clearing cache, clearing cookies, looking into the source code: nope, only 7.000 are possible.
But hey, folks, I DON’T WANT € 7.000 – just the € 3000, no extra, no mas, thank you very much!
You’ve got mail!
You see, I never had a problem with Barclaycard before in the 10 years since I have been with them. So actually I thought I send them some screenshots to customercare explaining the issue and then just leave it there (I actually never finished the credit sign-up process…)
So a week and a half later then I get two letters via standard mail from Barclaycard. Át stage I already started to wonder why they had not responded to my Email where I asked them “Folks, I could not pick the 3.000 loan, only the 7.000 – can you fix this?”.
Thus I thought: “well, looks like they wanted to contact me via regular mail for this…how antiquated…” but nope, suprise, surprise: the first letter now had the ready-made contract for the 7.000 € with a “please sign and send back!” and then a second letter with an additional offer for 10.000 € without any further credit check.
So my message to Barclaycard: NO, I don’t want € 7000 – but an answer to my request would actually have been nice – instead of sending me more offers that I don’t want or need!! (And Barclaycard is out of the race)
Candidate No. 1: Bank Santander
Stellar ratings. Countless accepted loans. Best available interest rates. According to check24 those guys are the cream-of-the-crop, the people’s champion, the guys how make it the easiest and cheapest to get a online loan. Of course you would take their offer in a blink of an eye, even with the extra caution stll needed, right??
What then follows really shows you how deep the rabbit hole goes – yes, take the blue pill, please!
Sign-up, all so easy….too easy
And since we are only-savvy, let’s just take a screenshot of what will be offered so we can remember later on. Since it might come in handy. Which it eventually did
So how about all of that extra stuff? All of the extra insurances, service-packs that one does not want? I don’t really need that for that amout, so lets tick “nope”
So about a week later I get a nice, thick envelope from Santander. A first look reveals some neatly stacked documents, “Mail Ident” forms etc.
Instead of € 3.080,60 I now have to pay € 3.126,-
I checked monthly rates: its € 2,37 more, interest fee has climbed up to € 81,44 from € 80,60…now that’s a bit odd, isn’t it?
And then they added a “RSV-Beitrag” (some fee?) in height of € 44,56….hold on, what is that??
I don’t remember signing up on any fees, is this something required by law? Some “insurance kind-of- tax“?
Page 2: The “RSV”-fee
So on the second page I finally see what RSV stands for: that is “Ratenschutzversicherung” and is an extra insurance in case you cannot pay for the loan and the box is ticked at yes.
Helloooo, Santander Bank: I never wanted that! I EXPLICITLY actually asked to not have any fees applied on my loan request!. So someone must have added this on then without my approval. And sure enough other people would quite often just sign and not give it too much of a thought, right?
One more surprise in the envelope…
Well, the next one then really tops it off: I was actually prepared to call them and ask them just to re-do the contract piece and so looked for their phone number in the document stack.
Going through the paperwork I suddendly found two more copies of another loan request…but they did not have my name on it at all!
Its actually the loan request of a Maren H. and I can see all of her private details on there: Phone numbers, address, income, profession, banking-details, birth date, Email address etc – pretty much everything that should be absolutey private about any person!
I actually called Maren and explained the situation to her (her cellphone number was on there as well) – I think she was actually just so surprised that she could not say much. I also told her “Look, Maren, I am an Online Marketer and there is some nasty stuff one could do with that data being publized. Let me send the originals back to you then and let’ stay in touch”
And then a thought came to my mind:
If Santander is so careless with someone elses most private data, how secure is my own with them? What if I am “in someone elses envelope”?
On the way out today I will visit my housebank and have a talk with my favourite bank teller and ask her for the loan request.
At least I know I then have a face to complain too if things go wrong – and may it only be that I know from my past visits there that the bank teller and I both support the local Munich “underdog” football team.
And I would trust her somewhat better then any online bank out there….
Bank Santander called me, spoke to a customer agent and then to the supervisor (Mrs Holz?), the reason this as following “Since you are new client and have been with your current employer under one year (LOL-how about my previous history) we actually have to MANDATORY put you on extra insurance” So: Even if you don’t want it (and not need it), you will have to pick the insurance anyways, otherwise you will not get the loan! – now, is that not called “double dealing” or what
When you ask them why then they would not inform you about the extra needed insurance they respond with “Well, all the material gets produced automatically and there is no way that we could change anything” (and this then seems to apply for the cover letter or any other note that they could enter) – regarding the other matter, where I received someone elses contract the agent first told me “Well, what can I say…if we f**k up royally we REALLY f**k up royally” and the supervisor told me “Well, we must just have put the other contract with you by mistake…its a manual thing that can happen” (and she did not seem to be concerned about the privacy data issue)
Whats your take on this? Have you gotten same experiences?
Please let me know by commenting below, either in German or English