A former UCL lecturer has been forced to travel from his French home to London to try to unblock his bank account, amid criticism of complaints processes at digital banks.
Clive Mira-Smith, 70, travelled almost 500 miles from Auvergne in central France to London’s Canary Wharf in an unsuccessful attempt to have £15,000 that had been locked in an account with digital bank Revolut released.
His account had been blocked since September, but Mr Mira-Smith exhausted all avenues of complaints and became frustrated that he could only raise concerns over the internet.
Saying it was like "being confronted with a brick wall", he took the extreme step last month of jumping in his car and turning up at Revolt's London headquarters.
It comes amid growing complaints over digital banks over customers being locked out too quickly.
The Financial Ombudsman Service (Fos), which handles disputes, said it currently has around 70 open cases of customers who have complained about access to a Revolut account and approximately 100 from customers of Monzo bank. Some of these customers say they have had trouble contacting their bank about unlocking the account.
Mr Mira-Smith, a former anthropologist who has been receiving treatment for blood cancer, said the problems with Revolut have caused financial difficulties and stress which have had negative effects on his health.
He told the Telegraph: "It was like being confronted with a brick wall. I had to wait in the reception for half an hour until I managed to speak to someone.
"They told me that the issue would be sorted out in a few days, but weeks later and the funds were still frozen. Christmas came and the plans I had made for my son and myself had to be cancelled for lack of money.”
Revolut recently contacted him saying that it was closing his account and returning the funds in there to the accounts they came from. A few days later Mr Mira-Smith found that his ex-wife and daughter’s accounts had also been frozen.
Martyn James of complaints service Resolver said it receives thousands of complaints from customers, particularly those of banks that offer an online-only service, unable to contact their account-provider. “The number of people facing this problem has been rising rapidly as businesses increasingly remove phone numbers and email addresses from their websites – forcing people to use online chats instead,” he added.
A Revolut spokesman said that customer accounts could be suspended due to either a breach of its terms and conditions or as part of its security checks.
He added that the bank is continuing to invest in expanding its customer services.