It is a while since I last bought a car - it was for my wife, and was a simple matter of using a debit card in the car dealership. Those were the days when Barclays were not quite such a total pain in the arse. Personally, I have a bicycle, but even that is hardly used these days - being a hermit is cheaper.
This time it is for my son. I am in a better position to secure finance, and so have done that and now need to pay for the car he wants so he can go collect it. Yes, OK, I am a sucker for lending my kids money and I really really should not do it, you can say "I told you so" in due course, or maybe not. I gave the kids some money for Christmas though, so gave him the deposit :-)
I naturally expect Barclays to be a problem, so I checked with Starling Bank and they said no issue with paying on the card - they don't have limits. Cool. I may as well try them out as my latest bank account.
I tried to put the money on the card using faster payments, and had the fiasco with Barclays as per previous blog.
Now, a lot of people don't quite know how these systems work. The main two systems you encounter in personal banking are Faster Payments and BACS.
This is a system to send money between banks that is near instant and irrevocable as cleared funds. This is important as it provides certainty. If you pay someone using faster payments, they have the money, for sure. You cannot claw it back once you walk away. The system itself has a limit of £250,000 now, but banks have individual limitations. More...
To buy a car, using a card is simple, but could possibly be clawed back if there is a claim of fraud. Faster payments are irrevocable which makes them ideal for this.
This is possibly why the car dealer said they won't take a card, which is a pain.
The older system is 2 day BACS. This is, however, still used a lot. A lot of companies use it (we do) and it is used for Direct Debits. It has limits around the £20,000,000 mark.
It used to be that when you sent money, it would vanish on Monday and arrive on Wednesday. In fact, what happens, is there is a 2 day process (which, once upon a time, actually used magnetic tapes and mainframes to sort the data, hence "sort-code"). The money actually leaves and arrives on the same banking day, i.e. Wednesday if requested Monday. Banks took it on Monday to ensure it was still there on Wednesday, and to keep some interest, etc.
A company with access to BACS can submit a BACS file. We (A&A) can do this, and use it for Direct Debit collections and payments we make. The nice thing is that in the one file we can Direct Debit from bank A to our account, and also Direct Credit from our account to bank B and it all happen on the same day with no messing about. BACS really "just works".
There is another system which is not so useful now called CHAPS, which takes a couple of hours typically. It used to be one of the only ways to move large amounts same day, apart from cash! Actually, given the amount, cash would have been amusing, but I bet they don't take that either!
So what did I do?
I used BACS to DD my Barclays account and credit the Sterling card. Two days notice, but works with no questions and no hassle and no blocking of on-line banking. Very cool.
This is using A&A to do it, but it does not cost A&A, and I'd be happy to do the same for any staff. It is just a means to remove the hassle, but at the penalty of two days notice, and it is not like there is not a proper audit trail.
How do I pay the car dealer?
The problem is that the money is now in Starling, and the car dealer won't actually take a card (arg!). So I need to fast payment from Starling.
Now, this is where Starling are showing they are a lot less hassle than Barclays, but not totally without hassle.
Issue 1: There is a £10,000 limit on outgoing fast payments, and the car is more than that (it is more than Barclays limit too).
Solved, they were happy to explain on the in-app chat that they do larger amounts, just not from the app payment page, I have to go through the details in the chat. Only extra information needed is "reason for payment" - well, actually the clue is the name of the payee XXX Motors Ltd, it's for a "car" - well, that or "a new hat".
Issue 2: Having chatted at length yesterday, we now have the exact amount, and I said what I wanted to do. They were happy to do it, but new catch that was not mentioned before - they will only do larger fast payments 9am to 4pm. I wish they would have told me!
However, looks like it all happening, and my son can get his car this week, at last. Apparently this means I have a chauffeur for the next decade or so as well :-) As I said, it is a good job I was not sat in a car dealer waiting for the money to transfer!
So, yes, minor annoyance Starling, but way better than Barclays so far, well done.
I'll update if more problems :-)
Update: Seems more like "slower payments" at the moment...
Update: 11:17 they eventually call to verify more details!
Update: 12:03 they move money to a different account ready to send
Update: 12:15 finally sent
At the end of the day...
All I want is a bank that does what I ask them to. I understand that they need to validate that I am me in a way they are happy with (after all, if they are fooled, it is they that have been defrauded), and then just do what I ask without any messing about. Simples.
P.S. To reiterate a tip here - always send a small amount to the payee you have set up and confirm it arrives. We did this. That helps ensure no mistakes.
P.P.S. Someone tweeted that Faster Payments are not quite 100% guaranteed as they are a "Net Settlement" between banks at the end of the day, and only CHAPS is 100% guaranteed. He felt that the faster payment could be reversed if not settled. This basically would only happen if a bank went bust. That said, I am not convinced - I would see that as the banks owing each other money and not settling and not a per account thing as it is a "net" settlement. I mean, which faster payments would be "reversed" in such a case even? I don't know legally what would happen in such a case, and not even sure anyone knows, but the statement on the faster payments web site is that they cannot be reversed, which would be a good argument if your bank did reverse it, I am sure. It is interesting. It is also worth pointing out that even is someone sends you money by CHAPS, if your bank then goes bust (the level of "unlikely" he was discussing) then your CHAPS payment may be worthless even if not technically "reversed". Having money in a bank at all is that level of risk regardless of payment method. Faster payments cannot be reversed on a whim, and barring something of the level of a bank going bust, they are secure, as I understand it.