Well, what do you know? The banks can get it right if they lay aside their rivalries to fix industry-wide issues such as the rigmarole involved in reporting the death of a loved one.
Thankfully, sorting out a relative’s myriad accounts when they die is a task most of us face few times in life.
But it’s only when you go through it that you realise quite how repeatedly torturous the whole affair can be.
Thankfully, sorting out a relative’s myriad accounts when they die is a task most of us face few times in life
Most of us end up so drained by stress, grief and red tape that the last thing on our minds is complaining about staff who had no idea what to say or do.
Now, thanks to a rare example of collaboration between the big banks, the bereaved have to make only one phone call or one website request.
From there, you should be treated with the respect and sensitivity you might expect in the circumstances (please tell me if you’re not).
The six big firms now signed up to the Death Notification Service — Lloyds Banking Group, Barclays, Santander, RBS/NatWest, HSBC and Nationwide — and their trade body, UK Finance, deserve huge credit.
This is the first time I can remember them joining forces to make such a positive difference.
But let me be clear: none of this would have happened without Money Mail’s vital intervention in 2015.
It took the bravery of deputy editor Victoria Bischoff, who spelled out how Lloyds and others made dealing with her mum’s death even more painful, for the banks to listen.
If someone like Victoria, who knows the system inside out, faced such a struggle, what were hundreds of thousands of other bereaved families going through each year?
Scores of you wrote in, inspired by her testimony and by our call for a single notification service, and gave our Looking After Your Legacy campaign the zeal to succeed.
It’s proof of the enduring power of Money Mail readers to hold firms to account. So a heartfelt thank you from me.
Now, we turn our attention to energy and telecoms firms, which are stuck in the Dark Ages when it comes to dealing with death. The clear next step is for them to join the Death Notification Service.
The prospect of different industries teaming up for the greater good may sound like wishful thinking, but today’s victory shows that minor miracles can be achieved when companies listen to their customers — and put people before profits.
On to the next…
Our success with the banks was three years in the making. For half that time, we’ve fought to convince the Government and insurers to let savers cash in their annuities — and that battle is far from over.
Every week, I hear from pensioners who feel betrayed. In 2015, they were denied freedoms to spend their pensions however they liked. Then they were told they would be granted them after all — only for the Government to perform a U-turn at the 11th hour.
Now, we reveal ministers broke a promise to find another solution.
Chancellor Philip Hammond, who’s fighting to save his career, could win over five million voters by launching a consultation to find a way to end one of the great injustices imposed on pensioners.
It’s great to hear your feedback on our new saving and investing page. We launched Tony Hazell’s column The Prudent Investor two weeks ago and many of you say you’re following religiously as he tries to get his Isa and pension firing on all cylinders.
Others say they thought the stock market was for mugs and hope Tony won’t provide further evidence (he also hopes not!).
And several note changes to our long-running savings tables. Now called Sylvia Morris’s Savings Star Buys, they have been condensed into a more manageable form.
Each week, Sylvia sifts through about 1,000 accounts to select the best online and in the High Street (now including fixed-rate bonds).
Trust me, she doesn’t miss a trick and you’ll still find her unrivalled coverage of savings traps and tips next to the tables.
P.S. WHAT a waste of money for Halifax to open a giant, three-storey branch in Central London with a cafe, party zone and computer games.
The millions it spent on this publicity stunt, in an area where most people bank online, could surely have saved several branches in rural areas.