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Exit fees and Interactive Investor problems
MV
Posted: 15 January 2018 21:41:25(UTC)
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I would welcome comments on two related issues, one being specific to Interactive Investor, and the other being the general issue which this raises. The latter is whether platform providers are justified in charging exit fees when the customer feels it necessary to leave because of the poor quality of service provided. I maintain that customers should not be obliged to accept poor quality service simply because the cost of moving to another platform provider is too high. My experience with Interactive Investor is a case in point.

I moved to II around 2 years ago, together with my wife's and 2 children's accounts, when we realised that we were paying very high fees on our Hargreaves Lansdown accounts. Interactive was far cheaper, and the linked family accounts meant an annual fee of just £80, a massive saving. The transfer took more than 7 months, with several problems including missing funds and cash, but after a lot of work from myself it was completed.

In early December 2017 I became aware that II had introduced a new website which we could not access without changing passwords and security details. I managed to do this but my wife and children couldn't because their mobile numbers had changed, and this required them to contact II by telephone. They (or I) have tried numerous times to call II, but each time we join a queue with nothing to tell us the estimated waiting time or our position in the queue, so after 20 or 30 minutes of waiting, we give up. I've lost count of the number of times we have tried. Secure messages via their website are usually answered after one or two days, but I've currently been waiting for almost a week for even an acknowledgement of my formal complaint. My wife and son are still unable to log in to their accounts, and all of our earlier secure messages have disappeared.

More recently I discovered that our combined fees have been increased from £80 per year to £360 per year, mainly because II have dropped the linked family account facility. In view of this massive increase in fees, as well as what I regard as very poor service, I now want to transfer out of Interactive. I asked them to waive their exit fees of around £800 in total but they have refused, stating that they gave me prior notice of the increase via their secure messaging system. I have argued that whatever notice they say they gave me, it was inadequate because I was unaware of the change. I can't even check what message they sent me because older messages are no longer available to view since the change. I raised a formal complaint with II on 9th January but as yet this has not even been acknowledged. I will now register a complaint with the Financial Ombudsman.

Whatever the outcome of my particular case, I think the issue of exit fees needs to be addressed. It surely cannot be fair that anybody should have to pay for the privilege of leaving a service such as this. And if that person feels the need to leave as a result of very poor service or sudden fee increases, surely that is doubly unfair?

.
7 users thanked MV for this post.
Guest on 16/01/2018(UTC), Guest on 17/01/2018(UTC), Graham Hacker on 17/01/2018(UTC), alex lee on 17/01/2018(UTC), Gatekeeper75 on 18/01/2018(UTC), Malcolm Hartney on 23/01/2018(UTC), huudi on 26/01/2018(UTC)
Mickey
Posted: 15 January 2018 21:52:53(UTC)
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Whenever I have moved platforms I have always taken the simple & easy option to transfer as cash, faster switch and fewer fees. Being out of the markets for a few days has never been a problem for me.
3 users thanked Mickey for this post.
Guest on 16/01/2018(UTC), Mr Helpful on 16/01/2018(UTC), Hilary hames on 17/01/2018(UTC)
Alan Selwood
Posted: 15 January 2018 22:42:34(UTC)
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Some people with complaints about firms that ignore them, or provide only shoddy service, contact the national newspaper of their choice that has an active weekly column where letters and results get published (e.g. Daily Telegraph Saturday edition).

When firms don't play ball with the writer of those articles, they know that their shortcomings are going to appear in print and discourage potential customers from joining them. Bad publicity is not always useful publicity!

It often results in action, compensation and (usually) mealy-mouthed comments like : "We are sorry that on this occasion our standard of service fell short of our standards.....".

You could do worse than try it.

As for compensation / fee waivers for deserting their sinking ship, you might try asking a solicitor at your local Citizen's Advice Bureau whether the legislation allows you to make a successful claim for a waiver on the grounds that they have failed to provide service of satisfactory quality, or have unilaterally changed the contract to your disadvantage without allowing you to jump ship free of charge - I think there have been cases where firms have been compelled to let people leave without charge because of their unfair terms or unilateral changes that were not originally allowed for explicitly in their T & C at the time you started using them.

Public name and shame seems to open a lot of locked doors in the case of many utility companies!
6 users thanked Alan Selwood for this post.
W Philip on 15/01/2018(UTC), Martina on 16/01/2018(UTC), Wilco on 17/01/2018(UTC), Alan M on 17/01/2018(UTC), John Grant on 17/01/2018(UTC), Malcolm Hartney on 23/01/2018(UTC)
W Philip
Posted: 15 January 2018 23:24:26(UTC)
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My situation is very similar to MV.

I had huge hassle transferring in, but persevered and eventually things were OK. But since the revamp, it’s dire. The new web interface is far inferior, messages disappeared, no records from the past etc etc. Customer service meltdown. Look up Trustpilot and see the litany of negative reviews. They have now removed the link from the website since 100% of all recent reviews are one star ( many would give less if possible,)

I too am trapped because a. The fees per line of stock would mount up to hundreds for me and b. I am scared it would take months and leave me at the mercy of a possible market crash while unable to trade. That’s what happened when I transferred in.

It’s all very well saying go into cash, but that costs both ways - commission fees to sell, and again to buy, plus stamp duty. Not good.

I agree the least they can do is offer a free transfer.

Can the ombudsman or the FCA do anything?
Bigbird
Posted: 16 January 2018 13:09:40(UTC)
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Joined: 16/01/2018(UTC)
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It seems that Interactive Investor systems and support are in meltdown since the takeover.

Like you we too were attracted by linked family accounts so have similarly seen fees escalate. Loss of family linked accounts was not notified IMO, so I feel you have a good case... please do report progress here!

Regular monthy subscription collections in Dec failed. No apology, just spin offering collection 10 days late and investment a month late! Now our collections for Jan18 have failed too! No apology received and it has been up to me to do discover this and do manual payments in an attempt to resolve this for all our accounts.

Responses to secure messages have got far slower so perseverance is required. Following an 18 minute wait I finally got assistance. During the call I learned that ii is now offering a reduced selection of monthly investments. The Website still says " full range of funds, popular shares (including the FTSE 350), ETFs and Investment Trusts", so I don't know who to believe!

Certainly I am unable to add to existing holdings of two iShares ETFs currently.

Like you I am likely to complain and move broker. Where can we go? AJ Bell or ClubFinance or X-O seem possible options to me.

MV
Posted: 16 January 2018 16:09:17(UTC)
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Update 16th Jan 2018. I have now called the office of the Financial Ombudsman to register my complaint. This is a straightforward and easy procedure, and they will notify Interactive Investor. I must now allow II a further 7 weeks to resolve the problem, after which the Ombudsman will investigate my complaint if necessary.

In the meantime I am investigating alternative investment platform providers. My primary requirements are low set-up cost, low fixed annual fees, low dealing costs, reasonable exit charges, and good communication by telephone and email. So far iweb sharedealing seem to be favourites and they passed the first hurdle by answering the phone when I called them!

I'm open to advice from others.
Tim D
Posted: 16 January 2018 16:58:51(UTC)
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MV;55493 wrote:
In the meantime I am investigating alternative investment platform providers. My primary requirements are low set-up cost, low fixed annual fees, low dealing costs, reasonable exit charges, and good communication by telephone and email. So far iweb sharedealing seem to be favourites and they passed the first hurdle by answering the phone when I called them!

I'm open to advice from others.


Satisfied Alliance Trust Savings customer here. They can take a few days to respond to emails but they always do. Never had any problems the few times I've needed to call them, or had any unsatisfactory outcomes. Not sure they'd be that cheap for frequent dealers (but there's some sort of discounted pre-pay "trading bundle" available).

Main things which concern me:

- Website is basic. Really basic. Does what it needs to and no more. e.g investments don't even hyperlink to the "research" pages (which are just a tab giving Morningstar access). No "CSV export" capabilities (I ended up writing my own web-scraper).
- There's some sort of "replatforming" brewing... which could mean chaos down the line when they unleash it on us retail punters (think advisers have already been exposed), judging by what's happened at e.g Barclays Stockbrokers. I'm hopeful the delays mean they're actually taking more care over it than their competitors seem to have been doing though.
- They've struggled to become profitable, which probably means they'll be sold by Alliance Trust at some point; so more potential for chaos as us punters are merged into another platform (I half wonder if this is what's holding up the "replatforming").

Assume you're aware of this list?
1 user thanked Tim D for this post.
AJW on 17/01/2018(UTC)
martin turner
Posted: 16 January 2018 21:07:52(UTC)
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My own experience with II is positive so far. I was with TDDirect and the takeover by II was relatively seamless. i think the 'new' website is based on the TD model so original II investors may have had to cope with more change. The OP was particularly unlucky having just migrated to II before the change which can usually cause headaches.
Not much solace for those affected but there may be many like me who are at least currently happy with the service.
1 user thanked martin turner for this post.
Wilco on 17/01/2018(UTC)
MV
Posted: 17 January 2018 00:05:24(UTC)
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martin turner;55508 wrote:
My own experience with II is positive so far. I was with TDDirect and the takeover by II was relatively seamless. i think the 'new' website is based on the TD model so original II investors may have had to cope with more change. The OP was particularly unlucky having just migrated to II before the change which can usually cause headaches.
Not much solace for those affected but there may be many like me who are at least currently happy with the service.



Martin. As the OP, I have to correct you. I've been with Interactive for well over 2 years. After the awful 7 month transfer period from HL with lost funds and cash (since found again), things did settle down. The service was less good than with HL, but I was happy to put up with that because the charges were massively less than at HL. But I'm certainly not prepared to put up with the current atrocious service where I can't get through to them on the phone, my family's charges have increased from £80 to £360 per year, my secure messages have disappeared, and they still haven't even acknowledged my formal complaint. I just hope that I can get out quicker this time, and that the company doesn't fold before I manage to transfer my funds.

JohnR
Posted: 17 January 2018 00:54:38(UTC)
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Interactive Investor and having problems are synonymous.

As a TD client I knew what was coming when the news broke and waited to see what their eventual fee structure would be, big mistake, tried to get out before their incompetence was unleashed but just failed to make it in time.

My account transfer did happen just in time thanks to TD but the pending dividends didn't escape the incompetents taking the reigns and I'm now waiting for a cheque to arrive for dividend payments that should have remained ISA wrapped.

How long that will take is anyone's guess.
1 user thanked JohnR for this post.
Mr Helpful on 17/01/2018(UTC)
philip gosling
Posted: 17 January 2018 10:37:26(UTC)
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Interactive Investor must be dealing with thousands of unhappy customers - they must have considered they would retain enough to make the company profitable. My wife and I are moving ISAs to Halifax and my SIPP to Bestinvest (thanks Sarah G). Did try to move SIPP to AJ Bell but they wanted copies of my passport and driving licence endorsed by an authority and I thought not paying solicitor foe certified copies so gave up trying - not much help from AJ Bell's customers services so perhaps I got away unscathed.
1 user thanked philip gosling for this post.
Malcolm Hartney on 23/01/2018(UTC)
mark spurrier
Posted: 17 January 2018 15:02:51(UTC)
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Checked my account yesterday

It was my account from about a year ago......

Splendid


R0n
Posted: 17 January 2018 15:22:19(UTC)
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Joined: 13/01/2013(UTC)
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Been an account holder with TD for years however since the takeover I will confirm that its the worst experience ever.

1. Long waits on phone
2. Missing monies or incorrectly records
3. Higher charges
4. Website consistently down.

I would recommend staying away

I am in the process of closing my accounts
Malcolm Bridge
Posted: 17 January 2018 15:34:41(UTC)
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My wife and I both opened accounts with II some years ago to take advantage of their linked account system. Service, while not brilliant, hasn't been bad so we saw no reason to move until they announced that they were going to increase quarterly charges and stop the linked account system, at which point we decided to move my wife's, almost inactive account rather than pay £90 p.a. In fairness to II I should point out that we were given plenty of notice of the changes and were able to move without penalty as we did so within the time that they specified. Other correspondents seem to have failed to read these e-mails. The move took 3-4 weeks, which is probably reasonable, though one dividend is missing; not sure whether it has gone to II and not been forwarded or whether my wife's new platform has failed to record it in a timely manner. Which brings me to my second point. We chose to move her account to IG because it had no maintenance/holding/call-them-what-you-like charges, only to have one introduced within a month with very little notice and no offer of a free transfer out. Now that is what I call disgraceful.
3 users thanked Malcolm Bridge for this post.
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Wilco
Posted: 17 January 2018 15:43:46(UTC)
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The information regarding linked accounts and future fee changes was well advertised prior to the early December merger. My wife and I had linked accounts and although I'm not particularly pleased with the doubling of our fees we do get plenty of free trades which can be used anytime within a twelve month period, whereas previously you had two free trades per quarter which if not used were not carried forward.
Dividend payments have so far been paid promptly and they have also started paying into my bank account via the faster payment system which is far better than the previous one.
I've been with III for sixteen years now and ok there have been the occasional glitches but generally speaking I have been happy with them.
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Law Man
Posted: 17 January 2018 15:46:11(UTC)
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Consider the increase in charges to which you refer: from £80 to £360.

The Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations are relevant. If the supplier raises the charge by unilateral notice, it should allow you to terminate the account and transfer out, without payment, within a reasonable period of time.

Further, the supplier should inform you of this right when giving notice of increase.

Note: being retired I may be out of date.

It is worth looking at this and arguing for a free exit.
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JohnR
Posted: 17 January 2018 15:57:37(UTC)
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I've made the same mistake with transferring to IG, I'm not happy with them and will let them know as much but locked in now to secure the bonus. Their excuses for the fee are laughable, it's just a classic bait and switch.

It was a planned move though as an interim hop on the way to iWeb in order to collect the IG transfer incentive payment.

I'll still come out on top financially after leaving IG albeit by a reduced amount, the imperative for me at the time I transferred though was simply to get away from II asap.

In that regard the IG transfer inconvenience and sneeky fee hike is a small price to pay.

It's just a shame I delayed my TD transfer out until December when in hindsight I should have just bolted at the first opportunity.

The gamble now is that iWeb don't do the same thing IG have just done when I transfer to them in October... talk about frying pans..
Reginald Carruthers
Posted: 17 January 2018 16:25:54(UTC)
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Re HL fees
Certainly not the cheapest, but is it worth saving a few hundred per annum if a lot of money is involved?

HL service is quite good, and you can usually get an intelligent human being on the phone within 20 seconds. As my old boss used to say "pay peanuts, get monkeys" - that is why I have you.
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John Hope
Posted: 17 January 2018 16:29:04(UTC)
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I was with TD for over 10 years and found them excellent. II have basically taken over the existing TD website, rebadged it and added a bit more functionality. I have stayed with II so far because their fee offer is fair and it can be recouped by trading. They have also dropped the fund platform fee which was charged half yearly.
I have not had much reason so far to contact them so cannot offer a comment on their responsiveness.
slow typist
Posted: 17 January 2018 17:10:32(UTC)
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I have no issues with ii platform change. I transferred to them when hl charges went through the roof few years ago. I had three family members linked to my account so I was very disappointed when we all received emails re the new charging system as our total annual charge went from £80 to £360. However, in fairness to ii, it was very clearly notified and gave a whole month to react.I had three message exchanges ( all answered in 24 hours or less) with ii . The outcome was that they offered fee free transfers for the three linked accounts but not mine as I already paid the quarterly fee. I thought that was all that anybody could ask for. In fact I did'nt transfer any of the accounts because even with the fourfold increase ii was still far away the cheapest option. Obviously that wouldn't be applicable to everybody, depend on value and make up of isa.
I had lots of problems with transferring from HL to ii back in 2015 (rdr time) and my advice to the original poster here is do not hesitate to use the ombudsman. It was very simple and efficient service, the only delays were caused by HL making reluctant but increasing offers and that avenue had to be exhausted first.The outcome was well worth filling in a few forms and two calls. Unless you were completely unable to access email or internet I don't understand how any
client could have not know in plenty of time about ii's changes?
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Wilco on 17/01/2018(UTC), Malcolm Hartney on 23/01/2018(UTC)
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