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Frustrating times with telephone &#39help&#39 lines

I read with interest and powerful sympathy Gavin Anderson&#39s letter regarding the difficulties of trying to deal by telephone with virtually every life company in the country.

Of the mainstream companies we deal with on a regular basis only Standard Life and Skandia stand out as notable exceptions.

When calling one company a few months ago, I was eventually put through to someone who, like a stuck record, was unwilling or unable to do anything but repeat endlessly “It&#39s not on my screen” until eventually, when pressed, she simply put down the receiver.

In an attempt to reduce their inflow of telephone calls, Norwich Union stopped many moons ago providing any term quotes over the phone, but as their term products have gradually acquired more and more options, the Exchange/ CTP is inadequate for DIY quotes.

Visit our IFA website, we were told, and you can do on that, for yourself – every type of quote with every option we offer.

The trouble is that the IFA section of said website is more difficult to access than the Pentagon mainframe and, after hours of messing about in vain, I eventually called up our local broker consultant who offered to assist.

After a similarly frustrating time, he himself admitted the system was all but impossible and said “they” would send us a quotes disk so we would not need to go on line. That was weeks ago and the disk still has not turned up.

However, we wanted recently to do some term quotes with a three-month deferred period on the waiver of premium cover. Eventually (again) after talking to someone at Norwich Union&#39s help centre we were allocated yet more access numbers (they seem to remain valid only for a few days) and managed, at last, to get into the system – hooray!

But, after all that, the quotes the system produces are flagged as not to be given to clients. Am I missing something here?

Julian Stevens

Partner, WDS Independent Financial Advisers, Kingswood, Bristol

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