Wednesday, 12 September 2012
Bonny and Clyde
Or a general fuzziness about life in general caused, in part, by the unfamiliar sensation of the country being on the winning side in a quite spectacular way these last 4 weeks. English football has thrown a bowl of ice cold water in our faces though.
Not even the sheer numb skull behaviour of our banking institutions has caused me to blow a fuse. The first example of banks being total plonkers was when I sent a cheque to a mate. I made it out to "Tom....". the bank refused it. He goes by Tom although he is technically Michael Thomas, but one of his names is Tom. What petty security minded nonsense. So I had to send him another cheque.
My bank - the Halifax - once a proud independent building society- now part of the bankrupt Bank of Scotland conglomerate sent me a cheque for £1.01 - an adjustment to a savings account. I dutifully took the cheque along to a branch and shoved the cheque into the automatic cheque teller - which immediately shoved it back out. I tried again with the same result.
A week or so later I had another cheque or two to pay in. This time I went to my local branch and presented the aforementioned piece of paper, along with the other cheques to the automatic teller. The same reaction; the blighter steadfastly refused to accept a cheque issued by its own bank, but happily gobbled up the others. So I queued, for 15 minutes to pay in one cheque for the sum of £1.01.
On the Sunday afternoon, I had a call from the bank; their Customer Satisfaction team. They were aware that I'd recently carried out an "over the counter transaction" and wanted to know how it went for me.
I tried to explain that as a transaction it was a pretty minor affair. I grunted "Hello" to the counter clerk, handed over the cheque for £1.01, inserted my debit card. They looked at their screen for a second or two, printed out a receipt, I removed my card, they said could they help with anything else, I grunted "No" and left.
But no, my views on that transaction, no matter how brief, were vital to the bank's continuing endeavour to improve the banking experience of their customers. "On a scale of one to ten, one being poor, ten being excellent how would you rate ......" This went on for hours. I explained that the reason I was paying in one cheque to the value of £1.01, issued by the Halifax was because their machines in various locations across this immense capital city of ours refused to accept the bloody thing. I also pointed out that I had to queue for 15 minutes, and putting my hourly rate at £300 the opportunity costs amounted to £75.
He took all this down and then asked would I recommend the bank to friends or colleagues! I stressed that I was only banking with Halifax because of a moment of madness five years when I left First Direct because Halifax were offering an insane 6% on current account balances up to £2,500. They promptly stopped that soon after I switched. I said that if I had my way I'd keep my cash under the mattress but the wife would complain.
He thanked me and wished me a pleasant what remained of a sunny Sunday afternoon. I fell back into the slumber from which the phone call had raised me.