Friday, 23 July 2010

Misfortune tellers

In my lunch hour, I decided to pop into my bank. I'd just noticed that my debit card had a split in it, and would need replacing. It's still usable but is likely to be rejected by some card readers, more so as the split gets bigger.

So, once in the bank, I was approached by a member of what they seem to call "floor staff," to whom I explained the problem. Ah, you'll need to use the phone line. Dial ** and that'll put you through.

Ok. So far, so good. This particular branch is a big, city-centre branch, and yet there are just two phones available for such things. Both were in use, so I stood and waited a suitably discreet distance behind the guy using the nearest one.

I waited for around 20 minutes, getting rather impatient. Not with the guy on the phone, it wasn't his fault. He sounded fraught, and he kept turning round and saying sorry, which was nice of him. I kept making it clear that it was ok. The person on the other phone was there for just as long too, and there was a guy also standing and waiting for use of that one.

Anyway - back to where I was and I noted that the poor chap trying to make some progress with his phone call had by now managed to get the attention of one of the floor staff, who intervened and soon sounded exasperated herself, not least with the fact that it was a bad line. Finally she got this guy an appointment to see somebody, to sort out whatever his problems where.

I went and sat down at the phone booth, and dialled **. I got an automated service telling me which option to press for having had my card lost or stolen. I hadn't had my card stolen and it certainly wasn't lost, it was right in front of me. The other options were equally irrelevant, except for pressing x for other options.

I pressed x for other options. I then had to enter various numbers: my sort code, my account number, my security number. What they didn't make clear was this this was not the security number on the back of my neither-lost-nor-stolen card.

They made it clear enough when they said (still the automated voice) that I had entered the wrong number, that I needed to enter various digits from the longer security number on my account, and that if I either hung up or wrongly entered the number again, any transactions on my account would be frozen.

Great, so I'm already starting to feel like a bloody criminal and I'm supposed to remember the 3rd and 5th numbers out of an 8-digit security number which I haven't used in months.

I was by now uttering curses under my breath and feeling like throwing the phone receiver against the wall. Twenty minutes of waiting, to be given a bogus set of options followed by being patronised by an automated fucking voice.

I entered the numbers correctly and was given my options again, none of which applied. I held on, hoping to be put through to someone. No chance. The voice informed me of my account balance - lovely, but that wasn't what I was after, thanks - and then gave me the non-applicable options once more. I waited, and was given my account balance again (which, interestingly, was exactly the same as it had been but 20 seconds previously).

I slammed the phone down, shouted one of the floor staff over and told him to get me through to a human being on the other end of the line because I was losing my temper and getting very annoyed. The chap dutifully did so.

The voice at the other end was in a hard-to-understand accent on a very crackly line, so I was having to ask her to repeat every other sentence as I went through the whole rigmarole of telling her everything from this number, that code, my address and my inside leg measurement.

Finally - finally I was able to tell her that all I wanted to do was get a replacement debit card through because mine was damaged. She dealt with this, and then "having had a look at your account with us," started telling me about a bank account which I could change to if I so wished.

Meanwhile an atonal howl of feedback informed me that I had a call on my mobile phone (the howl of feedback being my ringtone) and I was scrabbling in my pocket for that whilst still hearing "..enhanced rate of members covered for x amount of trips abroad per year..."

I'd missed the call on my mobile.

Excuse me I said sharply, my indignance at fever pitch that I was now receiving sales patter for an account which I couldn't give two shits about. I've been offered this account before, and I don't want it!. there anything else I can do for you today?


I slammed the phone down again and stormed out, glaring at all the floor staff.

If this is what it takes to ask for a simple task to be done, then thank goodness that - at least at the present time - I have no major financial issues that I need to sort out with my bank, that would surely be a Kafka-esque nightmare.

Which, judging by the haunted, bewildered look in his eyes, is exactly what the guy on the phone before me is going through. Damn.


Zhoen said...

This is why we pay a few dollars more a month for a local ISP, bundled with satellite tv and phone. Local, live person, intelligent, clear speaking, tech support. Gods bless xmission.

I'd change banks, if it made any damn difference these days.

Jennifer said...

Oh my gosh, I'm laughing but only because this sounds EXACTLY LIKE THE LONG PHONE ORDEAL I HAD ONLY AN HOUR AGO! I can't believe the coincidence. Right down to the "your account balance is..." and "would you be interested in..."

I guess some things are the same all over.

Jose said...

I understand you. The same thing happened to me, well almost the same, but with a telephone company. Change the wording to adjust to telephone equipment and you'll have it.

And there are millions unemployed, all for this rubbish.

DJ Kirkby said...

Argh, I feel frustrated just by having read this post! I would have been furious if I'd experienced it in real life!

nmj said...

Trews, I'm sure I would have committed an act of vandalism in the bank, had I been you. These days, simple transactions are the stuff of nightmares.

Montag said...

Similar thing... only I told them it had been lost, I had forgotten all numbers, and when they asked for oral responses, I spoke the Mother tongue with a distinct hint of being more at ease in some remote pidgin dialect.

Finally reaching a human, we set about things, only to have me discover that the card miraculously re-appeared! At which point, we segued into the real reason I had called.

It's lengthy, but it is amusing and I like living on the edge.

trousers said...

Zhoen, I've been with the same bank for years and years and still - despite such things as I've posted about - feel it to be a case of "better the devil you know", rightly or wrongly.

As you say though, isn't it nice when you do get a really decent service?

Hi Jennifer and nice of you to pop over. Sorry you had to go through similar annoyances..

Jose, that sounds just as frustrating. You'd think it wouldn't take that much to make things a little more straightforward, but no.

Deej, yes I was furious - but posting about it felt rather therapeutic.

nmj, should anything similar happen at the bank, I may complain. I don't like being put into a position where I feel the need to complain, but I'm not going through such shite again without saying anything. I wonder whether situating a punchbag in the bank might be an idea.

Montag, I like your approach :)

Carol said...

*groans* I hate having to do anything like that! I always end up muttering the phrase 'I know this isn't your fault but I'm getting extremely frustrated'. I only have a joint account at the moment because my bank wouldn't give me a proper account due to the fact that I had been in Thailand (go figure!). If you ever find a bank that manages to get it's customer service right let me know and I will change in a heartbeat!

Hope your card arrives without a hicup

C x

trousers said...

Hi Carol, well-timed comment from you: I just got home to find that my new card has arrived. Hopefully this one is durable enough to last longer than the last one!