Thursday, 11 December 2008

I Hate Banks

I have had a very trying couple of days.  I tried to use my debit card and the transaction was refused.  It wasn't because of lack of funds because there was more than sufficient money in the account, but it was somewhat embarrassing.  The net result was that I had to phone the customer service line last night to try to sort it out.

Of course calling your bank these days means going to a call centre and listening to lots of instructions telling you what to do and then trying to decide which of the options that have been given to you is the one that you want.  I ended up being put through to three different departments before I got to the right one, and they told me that a hold had been put on my card because they thought that a fraudulent transaction had been made, and asked me if I had received a phone message about it.

I said that I wasn't aware of a message, but to be honest I didn't know whether there had been one or not.  I use the BT 1571 service even though I have an answerphone mainly because I never remember to switch the thing on when I go out.  However, I also rarely check to see whether I have any messages unless I have been away for several days, so it is possible for someone to phone me and me not pick up the fact that there is a message for me because I tend to dial the number that I want before pressing the connect button.

Anyway, the third department that I spoke to said that they had taken the hold off the card and that it should now work although I should give it a few hours before I tried to use the card again.  This morning I had to try to resettle an automatic top-up on my Oyster card that had failed because of the hold on my debit card, but the transaction still wasn't accepted.  This necessitated another call to the service centre and having to talk to two people again, but at the end of it all I was assured that the hold had been removed and that the card should work.  They also suggested that I call into my branch and get them to check things out as it was obviously them who had put the hold on in the first place.

This wouldn't have been a problem if it weren't for the fact the branch that holds my account is about 100 miles away.  Having been informed of this they said that I could go into the local branch and that I would be able to withdraw some money from my account there.  So I braved the cold and took a walk to the local branch and my card was still being refused. 

I ended up spending more than an hour in the bank while the very helpful staff in there managed to get the thing sorted out for me.  It seems that while the people that I had spoken to on the phone both last night and this morning seem to have thought that they had sorted the problem out, they had actually made it worse.  But after the long wait in the local branch I was eventually able to lay my hands on some of my own money so that I could buy some food and buy a new Oyster card as my previous one had probably been cancelled.

I was eventually able to step out into the cold air again and make my way home.  I picked up a few essentials on the way and spent the whole time thinking how nice the people in the local branch were.  They had explained to me what they were doing, apologised for the time that it was taking, and were very friendly.  

I still hate banks, but some of their staff are really nice.

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