Un-Intelligent Finance

I've been banking with Intelligent Finance since May last 2002 when I bought a house and was attracted by their combined curent / savings / mortgage account scheme. For those who don't know, they charge your mortgage interest on the value of your outstanding mortgage minus your savings and current accounts instead of debiting interest on one hand and crediting on the other. This has the nifty effect of avoiding tax on interest paid to you.

I was a little annoyed that they weren't able to carry this out correctly; up until December this year when they finally fixed their systems to do what was asked. However, desipte this hiccup in their systems and the incredible difficulty we had changing our address and correcting details that had been inccorectly filled in by our financial advisor I had been broadly satisfied with their service.

However, on 27th January 2002 I attempted to transfer £100 from my savings account [name - piano] to my current account [name - Pete's Cash]. When I did this transaction at almost exactly midnight it failed, I was presented with a screen that either auto refreshed or told me to refresh it; I forget which; and then I was presented with a screen telling me that my transaction was sucessful. When I checked the accounts immediately afterwards I discovered that as expected, the money had been transferred twice. No real problem but not a good sign.

When I went to transfer some more money on the 28th January 2002 I was suprised to discover that the amount in my savings account was about £ 200 lower than I expected, even accounting for the double transaction the night before. Listing all the transactions gave the following statement on thier site.

[Some transactions have been removed to protect my privacy]

Look at the first transaction, I deposited £100 making my account £100 overdrawn. Previously this showed the account to be £100 in credit; hence the reason that the following transactions show Intelligent Finance paying me interest and me transferring it into the mortgage account where it was supposed to go.

To prove I'm not making this up - here are digital camera photos of the bank statments Intelligent Finance sent me when I opened my account. (note the account was originally called overdraft)

[Apologies for the image quality - I took two shots slightly out of focus in a dark room and then my batteries ran out so I couldn't retake them]

Notice how they are completely different? Clear proof that Intelligent Finance have removed £200 from my account, without telling me, certainly without my permission and without even leaving a transaction to show for it. I telepone Intelligent Finance immediately about this and they said that someone would look into it and contact me when they find something out.

I don't believe that is good enough.

I am very disturbed that my bank changes my records backwards in time. According to my paper statement, on the 11th August I had £ 0.00 since I'd just emptied my account (incidently to get aound a bug / feature in Intelligent Finances banking system and the way it calculates interest) but according to my online statement as of 28th January I managed to withdraw enough money to make me exactly £200 overdrawn.

The conclusion I draw is that;

Update - 29th Jan 2002

Logging on this morning [29th January] and everything seems to mysteriously be fixed. I've called Intelligent Finance and asked them to explain what happened - apparently I should expect to receive a call before the end of the day. They have certainly acted quickly and effciently, however I wonder what they will say?

Update - 7th Feb 2003

I attempted to borrow back some money from my mortgage. I have a 'pre-agreed' reserve - I bloody well didn't agree to it, they gave it me whether I wanted it or not. It turns out that you aren't allowed to borrow back your overpayments until you have borrowed all of this preagreed reserve. Whilst I don't think it makes any real financial difference I was irritated enough to try and make sure I borrowed out of my overpayments. Several phone calls resulted in the agreement that I could do the following.

The person on the other end of the phone was extremely confused by the request to borrow the money for a maximum period of fifteen minutes - confused enough to put me through to some who was able to make the pre-agreed reserve go away [something I'd previously been told was impossible] and then let me borrow from my overpayments. This had the intriguing side effect of circumventing the days notice usually required.

Update - 30th Nov 2003

Look at this screenshot from the online banking. Note in particular the date of the transactions against the date in the system. Good to know that causality is alive and well. I've asked for more information about this to which the answer was largely, 'I realise it doesn't make sense but it does work because the banking system is very strange'. My suspicion is that someone turned on 'dirty reads' on the Microsoft SQL Server because in SQL for dummies it said it would make it go faster.

Update - 05 April 2004

IF have now decided that my 'pre-agreed' reserve is £0.00 and they're going to hold that until the 4th of May 2203, approximately one hundred and fifty years after I'm going to be dead. At least we can't complain they're not forward thinking.

Home Mythic Beasts, shell accounts, cvs
hosting, co-location, virtual servers