Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Stress-free banking

Banks have lost a lot of credibility lately. My mother's bank has lost even more this week.

I administer my mother's account because she is a bit under the weather mentally. She's incapable of managing. In fact, she doesn't leave her house. Mr. Banker has decided not to send the monthly statements from her account which is delightful for me. I need those statements. I need them not only to read them and make sure that various transactions are taking place, but also because I have to fill in a great long time-consuming form from the tax people to tell them, yet again, that no, my mother does not owe them anything this year.

Dead trees. Enormous waste of public money. Yes, it's the government again.

As I said, the bank stopped sending the monthly statements. I rang the helpline which was almost incomprehensible. I put the phone down twice. Husband told me to hang on to the bitter end... I did and got a person. Not one I could understand terribly well. Not one who was sitting in a nice quiet room either. We conversed, and he assured me that I could go to the branch and of course they would have the precious documents residing in the vault of the computer depths.

I went: I saw someone obviously new. She asked for help. Mrs. Helper coaxed four months worth of statements out of the machine. I could hear it grinding in the background as I ground my teeth in the foreground.

"We'll send you August", I was told, "But if you want any further back than that we'll have to charge you £5."

Charming. Lovely. This isn't much, I grant you. That's not the point. The system was showing one statement per year. They were planning to send one statement a year. One a year! Ye Gods! How can you check that all is well only once a year! Besides which it was their fault. We always used to get statements every month.

I rang the helpline again last night. Got another nice young man with a reasonably unusual accent which took time to unravel. No doubt he felt the same way about my accent. I spent a while explaining the situation, and he said, "Sorry, the system doesn't register that you have third party privileges on this person's account."

Arggh. I have at the bank branch. That's not enough apparently. I would be required to get one of the bank staff to come to my mother's house - which would totally wig her out - and have my mother sign form 1939 while I stood by like a toffee apple. I explained the situation again. He went away to consult.

Mr. Helpline2 returned. No, I didn't have to complete form 1939. I just had to go to the branch to get the statements...

At this point, I was ready to blow my lid. So I thanked him for all his help (!) and put the phone down as he was twittering some more rubbish.

I'm getting an appointment with the bank manager as soon as I can.

How come other people make mistakes and YOU have to pay for them?

1 comment:

  1. I love this about the banks, its so true. My bank's helpline is usually in India with someone we an barely understand, who has no idea that all our local branches have long since closed and that its a bank holiday, so no we can't pop down to the branch. Arggghhhh!