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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 June, 2003, 12:03 GMT 13:03 UK
Going Dutch
Savers have been lured by market-beating rates

ING Direct is a new bank account offering one of the most competitive rates for savers on the market.

Its no-notice savings account offers 4.3% AER interest with just a 1 minimum deposit.

Ads for the account are everywhere at the moment.

But it seems that the bank might be a victim of its own success.

Problems

John Robles, is one of several Working Lunch viewers, who has been having some problems.

He opened an account with ING Direct on 8 June.

He sent a cheque in the post on the 8th, but it's still not been cashed.

John's been trying to get through to the bank on their helpline but has spent 20 minutes on hold.

He's still not heard back from them and wonders what's going on.

"ING Direct have been experiencing exceptional demand for the new account," says the bank's spokesman Will Cairns.

"We've had 400,000 account enquiries since we launched just one month ago.

"The result means there's a delay in processing applications of between two and three days."

The overwhelming demand has caught the bank by surprise.

The ING website has been getting one million hits a day. But a contingency plan is being acted upon and call centres and operations departments are being doubled in size.

Will says: "We haven't had any technical breakdowns at all. The delays are simply down to sheer volume."

Direct debit dilemma

Madeline Quint from Fareham has some reservations about ING Direct's request to set up a direct debit from her regular account into the savings account, even though she does not wish to make regular monthly savings.

Her Barclays Bank adviser says she has never heard of this and considers it to be risky.

Is this safe?

According to ING's spokesman, the direct debit instruction is purely to facilitate future transfers of funds to and from a nominated account.

ING Direct do this because it's cheaper than other ways of moving money and thus helps to keep costs down.

"Although in theory a direct debit could allow us to take money without express permission; we would never do this," says Mr Cairns.

Company background

Howard Dickson, has a lump sum to invest, he is looking for some more information about ING Direct because he's never heard of them before.

Are they as secure as a UK bank or building society and will the rates stay as high for long?

ING Direct is part of the Dutch financial services company ING, one of the biggest banking groups in the world.

As for ING Direct, it started operations in this country in May. The bank is licensed in the UK and adheres to the banking code.

On its interest rates the bank's spokesman says: "ING don't offer any guarantee on the level of interest we'll be offering in the future.

"But we aim to be at the top or near the top of the best buy tables."



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