Treasury-backed savings giant apologises for customer service and pledges to hire more staff.
Beleaguered savers with National Savings & Investments (NS&I) face a wave of delays and disruptions trying to access or top up their saving accounts.
NS&I is one of the largest savings organisations in the UK, with 25 million customers and more than £179 billion in customers’ cash.
But problems are arising with accessing NS&I deals and how it processes payments to savers, many of whom then wait days for refunds.
Trying to get problems fixed is a similarly frustrating experience, according to reports. Many savers face extended delays when trying to call NS&I’s customer service when they want to complain about and resolve issues.
A spokesperson for NS&I apologised for the delays and said more staff are being brought in to improve its service. They encouraged customers to carry out as many of their transactions as possible online.
“We are sorry that some of our customers are experiencing delays when trying to contact us and that it is taking us longer than usual to respond to some of their requests. We are currently seeing very high demand and high call levels,” the spokesperson said.
Rachel Springall, personal finance expert at Moneyfacts, said NS&I would be dealing with an unprecedented volume of queries, deposits or withdrawals at the moment.
Much of this is because the institution offered a number of market-leading savings deals during the past two months, leading to an influx of customers.
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“So while it is unfortunate, it is almost inevitable for consumers to experience some sort of delay.”
A statement on NS&I’s website says it has struggled to adapt to new ways of working during the coronavirus pandemic.
It said: “Some of our services are not back up and running as normal. Our offices remain open but our teams need to be much smaller due to the social distancing measures we’ve put in place.
“We’re still here to help, but it’s taking us longer than we’d like to answer your calls and deal with some items we receive through the post, so please only contact us if you absolutely have to.”
Last week NS&I announced plans to axe many of its best rates.
From 23 November NS&I will cut its Premium Bond rates from 1.4% to 1% and change the odds from December. The odds of a single bond winning will lengthen from 24,500 to one to 34,500 to one.
The savings institution will also cut its Income Bonds easy access deal from 1.16% to 0.01%, its Direct Saver easy access deal from 1% to 0.15%, and its Direct ISA from 0.9% to 0.1%.
Anna Bowes, co-founder of Savings Champion, says:
“We can expect to see a tsunami of withdrawal requests, especially as we approach the rate cuts on 24th November – and bearing in mind the problems incurred when trying to open accounts recently, there are likely to be significant delays on receiving money back from these easy access accounts.”
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