Stampede for the 4.4% Isa: Customers jam phone lines at Coventry BS

Rush for the 4.4% Isa: Customers block phone lines at Coventry Building Society in rush to collect returns

Coventry Building Society is once again struggling to cope with rising demand as new savers scramble to lock in higher interest rates.

In the past week, Money Mail readers waited more than 30 minutes for the mortgage bank to answer their phones.

Britain’s second-largest construction company says a record number of savers seeking better returns have flooded its call center after it hiked rates early this month.

It’s placed itself among the top payers, offering a whopping 3.3 percent on its easy-to-access online account — as long as you limit your withdrawals to six per year. It also pays a top 4.12 percent on a one-year fixed rate Isa.

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Asked: Coventry Building Society says record number of savers seeking better returns flooded its call center after it hiked rates early this month

But the account causing the real problem is the Loyalty Isa which offers 4.4 percent fixed for a year to its existing members. The mutual says the deal has resulted in phones ringing non-stop.

This isn’t the first time Money Mail has put the spotlight on Coventry BS struggling with waiting times.

Last December, society faced the same problem when savings rates became more competitive. Readers found themselves waiting for up to an hour when they called for help.

At the time, the association promised to recruit more staff to reduce waiting times. However, it is still unable to provide quick answers.

Carol Walsh, a Money Mail reader from Nuneaton, Warwickshire, was number 63 in the queue of savers waiting to speak to an advisor last Wednesday morning.

Things had barely improved by the evening as she tried again to finish 60th in line. At 9:00 am the next morning, another futile attempt to get through found her at number 58 in line.

When our reporters tried to get through Monday, we were 105th in line, while we were still a desperate number 61 at noon yesterday.

Last Friday, savers waited an average of 21 minutes and 59 seconds, more than double the ten minutes that Money Mail expects customers to suffer in the worst case scenario. On Saturday this had risen to 30 minutes and 55 seconds.

Yesterday the waiting times were better. The average had dropped to 16 minutes and 58 seconds.

Sam Richards, Head of Customer Service at Coventry, says: ‘The number of calls we receive each day has more than doubled since we launched our industry-leading Loyalty Isa for our two million members.

“Despite more people than ever answering the phones, this means members are waiting longer than usual.”