Managing change

Financial Adviser

The chaos that surrounded the NS&I launch of the pensioner bonds was not surprising, even if it was avoidable.

For reasons of convenience and cost-cutting, the NS&I has embarked on the widespread use of online, postal and telephone sales of its products, and the gradual reduction of the Post Office as a point of sale.

Whatever the contractual differences between it and the Bank of Ireland, the bottom line is that older people – mainly baby boomers – who are NS&I’s main customers for most of its products, and exclusively for pensioner bonds – are not as keen on doing business by telephone or the internet as the NS&I and some other providers.

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It has nothing to do with age, the convenient excuse whenever these new policies are challenged, but a caution born of years of having to deal with banks and other big corporations, who, in the main, do not accept responsibility when things clearly go wrong because of the technology.

The old convenient excuses are often dragged out: either the victim has given his or her password to a third party, or it was human error, never the technology. If the hapless victim has the temerity to complain, the corporation goes in to overdrive to frustrate them in to dropping the complaint.

They are moved from pillar to post, from one office to another, and at every stage must repeat the substance of their complaint. Then, like the PPI scandal, some lenders are not above lying by claiming that they have exhausted their internal complaints procedures and passing them on to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Those of us who are industry watchers are waiting to see how NS&I handle the cases of people who claim they have had additional monies removed from their accounts.

But NS&I has form: some time ago we suggested that with a multitude of cable television stations, along with the extra free to viewer ones, it is about time that the Ernie premium bond draws be shown on television similar to the lottery.

This idea did not go down well.