Monday, March 02, 2009

Why Do We Put Up With Our Banks?

There are 2 things that can really piss me off, 1 is being treated like a dip shit, the other is being lied to because you think I'm a dip shit.

Mrs B has had a problem with her bank account lately, it's a long story but the short version is it got blocked for security reasons. The first part her fault for not remembering her memorable words (doh!) the second part not her fault because the muppet in the call centre blocked the account after only 2 security questions 1 of which shouldn't have been asked. Then to make thing worse when she went in a month ago to get the info she was originally after they assured her the account was unblocked. Yesterday it turns out they lied.

So I decided to go with her to the bank today and get it sorted out, morale support. I was quite happy to let Mrs B do the talking and sit their quietly, right up to the point where the highly trained personal banker came out with the old "it's for your own good" spiel. I've worked in enough banks to know that it's fairly standard that no matter what the circumstances under which an account is blocked you must always tell the customer that it's for their own good. In this case it wasn't for Mrs B's own good at all.

Thinking enough was enough I decided to chip in. Mrs B had been very humble in explaining what had gone on and was just looking for an explanation on why the account was blocked without having been asked the 3 security questions and why wasn't the account unblocked when they said it was. It had caused a lot of inconvenience. Personal banker had got very defensive with a pinch of patronisation thrown in for good measure. So I asked about the second security question Mrs B had been asked. It was about the last transaction on our joint account. That's an impossible question to answer cos there's no way you can know what the other signatories on an account have done today/yesterday. You might as well ask when was the last time your partner farted? They are supposed to ask about the last transactions YOU did. Big difference. They are trying to identify you. Personal banker would not have it, defended the banks stance that they can ask whatever they like about any account they like for a security question. What she was actually doing was lying. Treating us as stupid people and fobbing us of with lies. I wouldn't leave it and eventually after much goading she slipped, only to back track as quickly. So I picked on the fact that Mrs B wasn't asked 3 security questions. She lied again. They can block an account anytime they like, they say it will only happen after 3 questions but they can do whenever they like. That's not right,it shouldn't happen - I just phoned the call centre to confirm that's not their policy, nor is saying you unblocked an account when you haven't.

Why lie about this shit? It's partly Mrs B's fault for forgetting stuff, fair enough, but it's also the banks fault for not going through with their own security procedures. Somebody deviated from the script and mistakenly asked an impossible security question and then blocked an account when they shouldn't have. The call centre monkey screwed up, that's all. It caused inconvenience to a customer. All you need to do is apologise on behalf of your colleague, unblock the account and the jobs a good un. Why start trying to defend a mistake by acting like a big shot and lying? It's about time that personal bankers were taught to think for themselves and have the stock answers taken away. A tiny bit of humbleness and customer service ability would have gone a long way in sorting this out. You'd think with all the crap going on in banking at the moment that customer service would be seen as being quite important?

When I was a wage slave there were tonnes of times where I've had to apologise for somebody else's mistakes, it's just part of working for big companies. Don't know what it is with UK banks and a lot of their staff but they seem incapable of grasping it. In my overly long and not remotely illustrious finance career I'd worked in enough banks and dealt with them day in and day out to know the score. It was always the UK banks that had problems with bullshit. I used to dread phoning them, I still hate dealing with them today. It's why the first thing I do with a new bank account is setup Internet banking. What is it with the lies and bullshit people?

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