Barclays has said it will close its weekend phone lines for businesses which use its banking service starting in October, prompting calls for a cut in fees to reflect the cut in service.
The bank told customers on Monday (September 28) it will close general business banking phone lines at weekends on October 8, meaning businesses will only be able to call the banking Monday through to Friday from 8am to 8pm.
Director at Blackdown Financial, Simon Cutler, has asked the bank whether it will be “reducing fees” in line with its reduced service.
“This is not good for businesses who trade on weekends,” he explained. “It’s already hard enough trying to get through to Barclays on the phone and surely this will only be exacerbated in the future.”
The bank currently charges between £8.00 and £8.50 a month for businesses turning over less than £5mn annually. Automate payments in and out then cost £0.35 each.
Barclays’ Which? customer score is above that of HSBC, TSB and Virgin Money, but below that of Lloyds Bank, Metro Bank, Natwest, Santander, Co-Operative Bank and Starling Bank.
A Barclays spokesperson told FTAdviser the change in contact hours will allow it to provide a greater service during its core weekday hours, which it said were when customers needed it most and when it receives “the vast majority” of inbound calls.
They added: “We have proactively informed customers in advance of the change through in-app notifications.
“Our specialist phone lines will still be open for urgent enquiries, for example for reporting fraud or informing us of a bereavement.”
The spokesperson also pointed business banking customers like Cutler to their online banking app, as well as Barclays’ automated telephone line and its in-app chat function.
Some mortgage advisers have criticised the quality of Barclays’ chat functions in the past, saying operators ask the same questions twice, such as the name of the client or the case reference number, after at least a 30-minute wait time.
One adviser previously told FTAdviser they spent 70 minutes on it only to end up with misinformation.
This has prompted some to point out how difficult it is for smaller advisers to use Barclays. “Many small brokers still don't have BDMs [business development managers] with Barclays and are not getting the support because they’re not happy to speak up,” said Mortgage Pod founder Steve Humphrey.
Barclays has said those advisers without assigned BDMs can get in touch via phone or on the live chat, and that the colleagues who staff these channels are trained to handle a wide variety of enquiries.
For more complex issues, the bank said it will escalate these to “broker chat lines” or telephone-based BDM support teams.