ING Direct: Just Call Us Capital One 360

It’s official. ING Direct is now under new ownership and is now known as Capital One 360, thanks to Capital One’s successful acquisition of the online banking company. And, there are more than a few changes ING Direct consumers might want to know about. Most of those changes are already in place including customer access to their accounts via a new website. Despite the preparations, there are still unanswered questions. This week, we take a look at this new formidable dynamic in the banking industry.

First, there are millions who use ING Direct, which came as a bit of a surprise – who knew the online bank had so many customers? Here’s what’s not surprising, though – the banking entity is known for its customer service. From the beginning, it’s focused on its customer relationships and it’s paid off. Unfortunately, many customers are wondering if maybe this is a good time to transition to another bank. Many are unsure as to why it was forced to sell its American subsidiary. While it’s not being described as a hostile takeover, it was a forced sell nonetheless. Not only that, but there are still unanswered questions about why the European Commission is forcing the issue.

The Good News

For those who’ve come to appreciate and trust the customer service operations, you can be sure the ING systems and operations are still in place. In fact, Laura DiLello, who held a management position at ING Direct but who now serves as Capital One’s corporate relations spokeswoman, says that Capital One 360 has retained the former ING customer service organization.

Since the acquisition last February, we have been and will continue to provide the same customer service experience,

DiLello said in an email interview.

There have been no changes to the ING Direct service organization.

There are those, too, who are concerned that Capital One doesn’t have the goods to serve as a solid and traditional bank, complete with deposits – after all, Capital One is synonymous with credit cards.

What sets direct online banking products apart from branch products is the amount of customer self-service and the fewer costs associated with the products,

said the spokesperson.

Our ability to keep direct banking products fee-free and with high rates is based on the low cost involved in maintaining them.

You should know, though, that Capital One is worth far more than ING Direct and certainly has the advantage from a cash stance. Currently, there are no definitive plans in the making that include changes to the account rates. Savings accounts are still at 0.75%. It helps that it’s the same rate ING Direct used to claim seventh place in the most current’s America Best Rates survey.

The Glitches

That said, there are a few glitches that will surely require a bit of a transitional period. The logistics alone will require a bit of an investment – partly from a time management stance, but mostly because ING Direct conducted its business online. In fact, there wasn’t a single branch office ever opened. Capital One is familiar with online account managements, but it also has close to 1,000 offices and branches around the country. It remains to be seen how that will play out, though it is expected that Capital One will continue with both models, which many say will ensure its competitiveness in an increasingly uncertain sector. The spokesperson we spoke to today said that the top priority was to provide assistance to customers who are are also making their own transitions,

We want to be sure we can provide a seamless effort that doesn’t compromise the faith consumers from both companies have placed in us.

Also, customers are warned to not expect perfection or anything close to it for several years. The branding efforts alone will take quite some time and the legalities associated with these mergers and buy outs also present time consuming compliance issues that will have to be ironed out. And, some analysts are warning consumers that there may be even more mergers on the horizon. In other words, if you opt to change banks, there’s a chance – albeit a small one – that you’ll find yourself being faced with another merger months from now. With the different laws that are now in place, the global climate, the national economy and a host of other important factors, it could be this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Keep the Tradition Alives

Analysts are recommending consumers, whether they open a new account at a different bank, at least hold on to the one they currently have. It’s the best way, really, to comparison shop with it comes to financial products. Plus, you want to also ensure your old account is still intact in case there are outstanding transactions. If you close the account, especially if it’s a checking account, and then a check you wrote but forgot about tries to clear, you may find yourself paying hefty fees. Then there are the checks you must order, the debit cards you must wait for and a myriad of other minor frustrations. The last thing you want to do is become your own worst enemy in the process.

Plus, there are automatic payment withdrawals, direct deposits and even tax considerations. It’s a hassle and you’re best served if you maintain a bit of patience throughout the transition. Finally, don’t hesitate to call Capital One 360 – you should be able to still use the same 800 number and also, keep an eye on your mail box as you’ll likely be receiving documents and a new debit card on your current account. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, either. You’re trying to weigh the benefits of riding out the transition versus starting over. If you have questions, you need to ensure you have answers to those questions before you decide.

Are you an ING Direct bank customer? What do you think of this latest acquisition and have you noticed any of these changes? Share your thoughts with us below or visit our Facebook and Twitter pages.

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