I went along to an Abbey branch yesterday to open my Direct ISA account, like I was recommended to by the central customer relations department. After waiting around four minutes for my turn to speak to the person she then said I would need to make an appointment to see their financial advisor who was off sick that day. I pointed out that I didn't want financial advise, but wanted to open the direct ISA. She said I had to see the financial advisor as they needed to take me through the terms and conditions. I said, all I need to do was sign them to show I understood them, which I already did, she said, no the financial advisor needed to go through them. I said that doesn't make sense as if I open the account online all I needed was to tick the box to say I had read and understood them. I also told her that after phoning Abbey's central customer relations department, they had told me that the best and easiest way to open an account as a new customer was to go into a branch as I had one five minutes from work, and that now she (the woman in branch) was showing that this was not the case. She restated her case that I needed to see a financial advisor to open the account. I said, no I don't, and that if she would not open an account for me here and now I would take my custom else where. She said I couldn't, so I told her well I'm taken my business elsewhere (in a loud voice to make sure other customers heard) and walked across the road to LloydsTSB.
Here, after a similar wait, I was asked did I want to make an appointment or do it now. Now please! And did I need/want an explanation of the T&C, to which I smiled and said no, I am fully aware of them having read them online, and he smiled to saying good. Also what was interesting was that LloydsTSB only needed my National Insurance number and EU style passport as a new customer. While chatting I asked how come I only needed one proof, to which he replied, if you use an EU style passport, that covers you for proof fully, despite no address on it! Don't you just love the way different financial organisations interpret the rules differently?!!
So my one piece of advise for you? If you are opening an Abbey ISA in branch make sure you ring ahead and make an appointment with their financial advisor as no one else in branch will allow you to just sign the fact you have read and understood the T&C ... well certainly not in the Tottenham Court Road, London branch!!
And yes the loss of interest is on the entire balance for any withdrawals in the first 12 months. You are right, this is not clear / easily found online, but it is clear in the paper literature.
Oh, and the bit that says "Additional deposits are not permitted once the opening investment has been made."
Well if you write a cheque for this years deposit, £3,600, you can fill in their paperwork for the transfer of old ISAs at the same time and though the other ISA's obviously get credited later on their exact transfer date, they all do count as the opening investment.