I may not need to but, of course, I’m going to say more, that’s the whole point of doing a blog.
I hate banks! Here goes….
My friends tell me that I have an interesting life and I suppose compared with some of them that is true. I have various business interests and I spend a lot of the year abroad. It all depends what you consider interesting. There is a flip side, as there always is, you don’t get to be a home with your family so much.
But interesting as my life may be from time to time, more and more of it is being wasted because there is far, far too much arse-holery and stupidity about these days. And that’s what I resent.
That’s what this blog is about. Highlighting the buffoons and idiots that plague the lives of ordinary decent people who are just trying to get on with their lives, their jobs and their businesses.
I had a frustrating few days on the telephone with my bank a while ago, and it’s a good illustration of what we’re up against.
Long story short, I was going abroad for a while, and before I left I had put some money in what my bank called “a branch saver account”. This account earned a miserly amount of interest. It was better than nothing (just about) and the money could be easily and quickly transferred to my current account in whatever amounts I needed and whenever I wished to do so. And everything could be done online, no problem. It was all set up.
So, now I’m in another country, where few if any speak English, and I go online to have a look at my bank account. Fine and dandy, the two accounts are there and the amounts in each are correct. But where’s the button to link the saver account to the current account? I needed to do that before I could transfer from one to the other. And I needed to transfer money! It was nowhere to be seen.
Eventually, after searching the bank’s website and reading the faqs page, I got the number of the technical department responsible for linking up accounts. I cheerfully phoned it to tell them my problem and ask them to link up my accounts.
Sounds easy, right? Even an idiot could do it?
If the idiot I spoke to could have done it I wouldn’t be writing about it here.
You see, whoever set up the saving account didn’t type in my name exactly, and I mean EXACTLY, as it appeared on my current account – same name, but one account used the full name and the other just my surname and first and middle name initials. Something like that anyway.
Same address, same zip/post code, same everything else. But the name was not written in ….E-X-A-C-T-L-Y…. the same form, and that turned out to be a BIG, BIG problem for the ill-prepared and poorly trained jobsworth who was on the other end of the telephone. (There are plenty of them in every big company nowadays as I’m sure you are well aware – I am, because I get to talk to them all the time!).
If I was asked one security question I was asked dozens. We had to go through that procedure to talk about the current account, which was fair enough, and we talked about that and how I needed the button to appear on the website so I could link to the other account.
The fellow I was talking to seemed to grasp that bit, and I then started to explain about the other account (please remember BOTH were shown on my online banking page, they just weren’t linked together yet).
“I’m sorry, sir,” he said to me. “But I am unable to discuss any other account without first of all going through the security protocol for that account.”
“But it’s there on the page in front of you,” I protested.
“I’m sorry, sir, but bank procedure states that…..blah blah blah.”
In other words he would not even discuss the savings account because I had gone through the security checks for my current account. This poor fool just could not figure out that ‘I’ was still ‘me’ and that the answers to the security questions would be the same.
“Ok,” I said, thinking it would save a bit of time. “Let’s quickly run through the security check for the savings account, so we can talk about it.”
And we did. It was just the same list of questions that I had already answered for the current account.
“What’s your date of birth?” says he.
“Just the same as it was five minutes ago, although I feel a lot older,” says I.
“Huh???” says he, bewildered by the sarcasm in my answer. “Your date of birth, sir, I need your date of birth….security regulations…….blah blah blah.”
There were boxes printed on the idiot sheet the idiot was reading from, and they really needed to be ticked or the world would end, this guy’s anyhow. So we went through the whole procedure, same questions, same answers, and when we were finished I explained again that this was a savings account.
“Oh yes, I see that,” he said, as if the thing had just magically appeared in front of him and hadn’t been there all the time. Someone really should invent something for telephones like the thing you use on MSN to give the screen a good shake.
I went on, “You see I need to transfer from this account into my current account…..”
He interrupted me. “I’m sorry, sir,” he says again. “But I cannot discuss your current account. At the moment we are logged in to this account.”
You see what was happening?
Yes, that’s right.
I was caught in a stupidity loop!!!
I tried to explain that the reason we were logged into this account was because, according to him, we needed to do that to talk about the transfer procedure to the other account that we had been talking about a couple of minutes earlier.
But in his empty head, stopping talking about the first account and starting to talk about the other one meant that we had logged out of the first account.
I knew what was going to happen next but I said it anyway, just to be sure.
“Ok, let’s log back into the other account.” And we did, date of birth etc., etc., etc., but when we had, (you guessed it too?), yes, that’s right, we couldn’t talk about the second account again.
For a few minutes I vainly tried to explain to this moron that he had misinterpreted his security brief and that in a case like this when he was having an uninterrupted conversation with someone who had all the necessary security verification for both accounts it was alright to talk about them both. And that the whole point of the call wasn’t to discuss what was in the accounts, just to put the frigging button on the web page to enable me to link and transfer.
But this fool was having none of it and persisted with his nonsense. Rules were rules. Common sense was an unknown quantity as far as he was concerned. In his brainless head it just couldn’t be done.
I asked to speak to a supervisor. He reluctantly agreed. I was put on hold. (I’ve got very good at Windows version of spider solitaire, which I did while I was waiting. Not much of a plus I grant you, but you have to cling on to something.)
When he came on the phone it was evident that the supervisor was a member of the same family of idiots, because he couldn’t do it either. Then the supervisor called his supervisor, and so on, yeah, unto the supervisor of all supervisors, but the stupidity was endemic within this bank. Not a single one of them had any sense at all. Unbelievable!
Eventually another solution was offered up. Show up in person at my local bank branch, with passport, utility bill and inside leg measurement, etc. No use explaining that would mean a 10,000 mile round trip at a very expensive time of the year.
Finally the supervisor of all supervisors told me I could write to “customer services” at head office, send a certified copy of passport, notarized letter, and wait for them to write back, which they could only do to my official address thousands of miles away in another country.
When I heard him draw the words “customer services” like a sword, I knew the game was up. Those are the final two words on the idiot sheets that these morons are given as a guide when talking to customers. I was fed up with these brick walls anyway.
I hung up.
What to do next? I still needed access to my money. I decided the best thing was to phone the branch where the account had been set up. Back on to the bank’s website for the phone number. This bank was in the UK and in recent years some other moron had decided that it would be much more efficient to handle calls to the bank via one catch-all telephone number. They all do it. There’s no such thing as phoning your local branch anymore. It is very annoying. And despite what their time-and-motion man may have told them, very inefficient.
So I found the catch-all number and phoned it. This time I didn’t get an English moron. Oh no, this time it was an Indian moron in a call center somewhere deep in the Asian sub-continent. It soon became obvious that they had given him the same idiot sheet as the people I had just talked to in England.
I only needed a phone number for my local branch but, boy, oh boy, oh boy, we didn’t half need security questions first. Same as before, name, date of birth, inside leg measurement…
He was quite polite and all that, but would he give me the phone number of my local branch? Not a chance. He would take the details and then someone would call me. My patience was at an end. I didn’t waste too much time on him, just thanked him for being another idiot and hung up.
If you’re interested, I did eventually get the phone number, there are always alternate ways and means. Spoke to a guy I knew well in the bank and he sorted everything out inside a couple of minutes.
You would imagine that it should be easy to outwit the chronically moronic, but in practice it isn’t. There are so many layers of them to fight your way through. For one thing it takes time and a bit of lateral thinking on your part, and for another the satisfaction level is minimal because you know in your heart that the people you have managed to get the better of aren’t even smart enough to realize that they and their equally stupid systems have been outwitted.
So I don’t know who really won that round. I thought I had, but thinking back and writing about it now, maybe I didn’t.
Have you had similar experiences? Send them along. Let the world know what is happening before it is too late.