On Saturday I went into my building society, Halifax, just to deposit a few cheques. As I walked in, I noticed a freestanding whiteboard, scribbled on it with a felt tip pen was, “If you have a mortgage with Northern Rock, speak to one of our advisors”. Not the most professional sign in the world, but it did get my attention. Those of you who also deal with Halifax may have seen the sign. I have a mortgage with Northern Rock, so I was curious to know what the message was about. However, I was too lazy to enquire, so I just ignored the notice and carried on waiting in the queue.
I approached the counter, and handed over my cheques. As I was about to walk away the cashier asked me if I had a mortgage. And I said, “well, now you mention it, I do. I actually have a mortgage with Northern Rock- what’s that message all about (I pointed at the sign)?”
I’ll get one of our mortgage advisors to talk you through what’s happening with Northern Rock, just wait one moment
I was thinking, “Here we go! Why can’t you just give me the gist, so I can determine whether I’m actually interested, before committing any of my time”
Minutes later a slick “suit” came approaching over and asked me to follow him. I walked into an office and took a seat.
Suit: “Hi, I’m Cockface. So, I understand you have a mortgage with Northern Rock”
Me: “That’s right; so what’s going on?”
Suit: “Northern Rock are trying to reduce the amount of borrowers they have, so they’re trying to get borrowers to remortgage with other lenders”
Suit: “What kind of remortgage do you have?”
Me: “5.39%, 2 year fixed rate, buy-to-let, interest-only. I’m tied in for another year though”
Suit: “No, that should be fine. We’ll be able to switch you over. They’ll be no fees either, we’ll take care of it all”
Me: “Are you sure? Because they’ll be a penalty if I get out of my clause. So if I remortgage with you, what kind of rates can I get?”
Suit: “well, our mortgage broker will go through that with you; but they will be very competitive rates. And yes, switching over should be fine, don’t worry. I will need to book your appointment with her.”
Hmm…so, he wasn’t actually a broker. So what the fuck was Jack then? I got called into an office to talk to a man that works in between the cashier and the mortgage broker. Seemed like a lot of time-wasting just to book me an appointment.
I got booked an appointment for Monday, 1pm. Take note, this appointment was due to take up my lunch break, and that’s serious stuff. The only reason I agreed was because I was hoping to get a new mortgage deal that would save me thousands of pounds.
Soon enough Monday came, and I was sitting in the same Halifax branch in front of a young’ish, female Mortgage Broker. She had a wedding ring on (the first thing I noticed once we had both seated), but that didn’t stop me from contemplating whether I would seduce her in a club (hey, I’m male!). Anyways, somewhere along the line, we had a conversation that went a little something like this:
Broker: “So, I hear you currently have a mortgage with Northern Rock. Northern Rock aren’t offering anymore new products, besides from deals on their standard variable rate, which is approximately 8%, so it’s probably in your best interest to remortgage before you’re moved onto that rate when your 2 year fixed rate comes to an end”
Me: “Yeah, I understand. So what can you offer me?”
Broker: “It depends what kind of mortgage you have. How long is left of your mortgage?”
Me: “Well, I’m tied in for another year, but I was surprised to hear that it shouldn’t be a problem.”
Broker: “No, that’s incorrect. You can remortgage now, and get released from your mortgage 1 year early from your agreed term, but they’ll be a £6k penalty, which wouldn’t be worth your while”
Me: “Right, that’s what I thought. So why did Cockface say that I could remortgage, even after I told him about my 2 year tie in?”
Broker: “I’m not sure. You should reconsider remortgaging in October. Here’s my card, give me a call then”
Me“Well, that was a waste time of. We may as well go fuck to give this appointment some kind of credibility”
I get the impression I was fed a pile of bullshit by Cockface so he could get me into seeing a broker. I’m assuming that every client Cockface books that actually converts into a sale, he makes commission from. Consequently, he’ll try and push in every innocent bystander he possibly can into the hot seat, because ultimately it will increase his chances of sale conversions. In the mean time, the fuckers at Halifax have wasted my time. As already mentioned, I value my lunch breaks immensely.
Anyways, I just felt mislead and deceived, so it made me recent Halifax. I’ve had similar dealings with Halifax, which involved applying for a Credit Card. It’s a long story, but to cut a long story short- a stupid dickhead deceived me just so he could offer me some bullshit credit card. So to take a double blow of deceit from the same company has left a bitter taste in my mouth. However, in terms of the banking side, I can’t really fault them. What a shame.
Regardless of a wasted appointment, I did learn a few useful facts about Northern Rock:
1. Northern Rock aren’t offering any new products, so those who are due to switch over to their standard rate period, you won’t get offered any good alternative deals. Consequently, it might be in your best interest to remortgage with another lender, unless you’re stupid and want to pay 8% interest, of course.
2. Jack didn’t really know what he was talking about (no surprise there). You can’t escape your tie-in period without a hefty penalty (in my case, £6k). Additionally, Northern Rock aren’t technically trying to pass their borrowers off to another lender, as Jack said. As the broker explained, they’re just not offering any new products. There’s a big difference between the two scenarios, that’s for sure.