Abbey service still shabby, say brokers

Ramesh Sharma

February 11, 2006

In October last year Abbey made changes to its underwriting facility, moving back to a regional underwriter basis. The lender also changed its phone system in an effort to cut waiting times and introduced its 10-day service commitment. However, Sarah Gwilt, mortgage adviser at Dickson Lishman Prince, argued the changes had done little to improve the lender’s service standards.

She said: “Abbey has launched some super rates; I presume to test what it has put in place. But I can quite honestly say the service has not improved, and despite changing its phone system, so we were not kept on hold for too long, you are still on hold for ages. My business development manager told me I would notice the difference and to bear with them. How long do we have to ‘bear with them’? I am sure that other brokers are experiencing the same challenges.”

But Mike Fitzgerald, sales director at Brentchase Financial Services, said service had improved since the enhancements were made to Abbey’s service. He said: “Abbey has really nailed its colours to the mast saying to brokers ‘we want your business’. I put through one exceedingly urgent case, and while the client was still in the office I had a call back saying the offer was proceeding. Abbey is very quick, efficient and friendly and after being one of its biggest critics it has completely turned its service standards around in a short space of time.”

Joe Wiggins, media relations manager at Abbey, said the lender was doing everything in its power to further improve broker relations, with the enhancements already having a positive response from the mortgage market. “Brokers don’t base their business on products alone and Abbey has been making huge efforts to improve its service standards over the past six months, including our 10-day service commitment. There are of course isolated problems but overall we feel we have improved the service we provide,” he said.

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