Page last updated at 14:42 GMT, Wednesday, 2 April 2008 15:42 UK

First Direct: Your comments

First Direct has temporarily stopped offering mortgages to people who are not already its customers.

The bank said the move would enable it to address a backlog of requests for its products following unprecedented demand.

Here is a selection of your comments:

DOUG SEGAL, NORFOLK

I think this is a sensible move by a bank that has historically been very fussy about who they give accounts to.

It's media scaremongering in pursuit of a headline like this that turned the Northern Rock frame into a full-blown crisis when, if they had been quietly given a bridging loan, they could have probably resolved their issues without creating this atmosphere of banking mistrust and destabilisation.

"Is First Direct in trouble?" is a much more exciting spin on this story than "First Direct takes sensible precautions to ensure they are not overexposed in the mortgage market". We are reporting our way into a far worse situation than we need to.

AL MCMAHON, BLANEFIELD, SCOTLAND

I have been applying for a First Direct mortgage since the end of January.

It has been a farce from start to nowhere near the finish. Every time I call them, I am either told to call back in a couple of days or given the 'call centre run-around'.

Unfortunately, I was attracted to First Direct by the good mortgage deal.

Had I known then what I know now, I would not have touched them with a barge pole.

PETER EBDON, NEWBURY, BERKSHIRE

I've been a First Direct customer for about 15 years and they are fantastic.

I tried yesterday to arrange a mortgage and was unable to speak to anyone, and they could only schedule a call back for next week. The problem was due to high levels of enquiries.

I complained via the online system and suggested that existing customers were getting a raw deal and they should consider whether their quest for new customers was harming their service to existing customers.

They obviously had complaints from others and have listened.

This is another example of them being a great bank - listening to customers and acting on it.

It's not a credit crunch problem - just other lenders being greedy, increasing their rates to take advantage of the media hype around the issue.

PAULIE, BRADBURY

I am looking to buy a house with my girlfriend in about 2-3 months.

And it seems as though the news is getting worse for first time-buyers on a daily basis.

The government has to step in and help.

My girlfriend and I earn above average wages and have about 8k as a deposit, but I don't think that's going to be enough. All I want is an average house and can't get one.

ANDREW, LONDON

I've been applying for a mortgage through First Direct and it's taken an absolute age.

You receive an application form which says, 'Don't delay, return as soon as possible,' but what they didn't seem to communicate was that it would then go and sit in a pile for two weeks.

The lack of communication on timescales has been really frustrating and, when you're buying a new house, doesn't exactly help the process.

Indeed, the bank is probably adding to its problems with applicants phoning up to chase the process.

Even so, they have been offering some of the best rates in the market and waiting a little while is a small price to pay.

RICHARD LOVE, FINCHAMPSTEAD

A long-standing First Direct customer, I just secured a loan (4.75% fixed for two years - an excellent deal).

But it was clear they were struggling to match their usual, excellent, standards of customer service, due to the workload from very high demand.

I think they are taking a wise step, to maintain the quality of response customers rightly expect.

It's also clear that people will flock to any lenders still able to offer attractive rates.

RICHARD, BRISTOL

I have been a First Direct customer for about 20 years, and have always enjoyed first class service.

I have also been impressed by their financial prudence, so the withdrawal from offering new mortgages at a time when many distressed, sub-standard homeowners are seeking any deal they can get is good news all round.

Nobody has a God-given right to a cheap mortgage, and the current squeeze, aided by prudent lenders like First Direct, will return the market to some degree of sanity in time.

JAMES, EXETER

Why do lenders never have the foresight to adjust staffing levels in accordance with demand?

Time and again you hear lenders complain that they are behind due to large volumes of business.

Many lenders are guilty of not being able to cope with demand for their more attractive mortgage products so end up withdrawing them, leaving customers and brokers high and dry.

Scottish Widows Bank recently closed their phone lines to brokers due to being unable to cope, and now First Direct withdraws its whole product range.

Are these just tired excuses for lenders running low on funds, or are they genuinely unable to run their business with a bit of forward planning?



SEE ALSO
First Direct withdraws mortgages
02 Apr 08 |  Business
Mortgage criteria getting tighter
21 Mar 08 |  Business

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