Monday, 10 September 2012

Banks (or Why Today Sucked!)

For a long time I’ve known that I hated banks.  I don’t know when I came to know this, but the banks in this country never fail to annoy me.

I’ve been a customer with the Bank of Scotland for more years than I like to count.  In that time I’ve had numerous arguments with them about my bank accounts.  Now don’t get me wrong: I’m not some sort of financial whiz, but I like to think I’ve got a fairly tight rein on my own finances.  When Bank of Scotland merged with Halifax Building Society and then were later taken over by Lloyds TSB, I’d rather hoped that their ability to handle money would be improved.  How wrong was I?

Anyway, not to give away too much information about my personal finances I have three accounts with The Bank of Scotland, one of which is used to pay all of my regular monthly Standing Orders and Direct Debits.  One of those Standing Orders goes to my ex-wife and it’s caused me trouble in the past when that money hasn’t been transferred when expected.

Last year, my ex-wife got in touch with me to let me know that she hadn’t had the money she was expecting.  She wasn’t angry per se, but wanted me to try and get the issue sorted out.  After a bit of back & forth with the bank, it transpired that because the Standing Order that credits my bill payment account couldn’t go through until the Monday morning (3rd) and the bank won’t honour the outgoing Standing Orders until the day AFTER the cash has credited my account.  So in the end, I arranged that if my money gets transferred IN on the 1st of the month, the money to my ex-wife won’t go out until the 2nd of the month.  Stick with this, it gets better.

This morning I got a call from Cat to say that I’d had a letter from the bank advising non-payment of the Standing Order to Carla.  After no fewer than FORTY MINUTES, I had established that the Bank of Scotland actually makes up the rules as it goes along.  First of all they tried to tell me that they don’t transfer money between accounts at a weekend, despite evidence that I was able to provide that contradicted this.  Also, they’ve tried to tell me that the payment to my ex-wife was never scheduled to happen on the 2nd of the month, basically that I’d never changed the Standing Order instruction.  However the same person was at a loss to explain how there had been a period of about 5 months where the money HAD been taken on the 2nd of that month.  The response to this was that the 1st must have been a holiday Monday, but that stopped when I rhymed off the months where the 1st of the month was a mid-week.

The upshot of all this?  The girl at the end of the phone finally took the hint and lodged a complaint with the complaints department.  I spent 40 minutes on hold with the bank while the call handler consulted with the complaints department rather than transferring the call.  People, I’ve worked for more than 18 years in the Call-centre industry and I can tell you, I’ve had some angry customers on the phone.  I always found that the best way of mollifying a customer was to transfer him/her to someone that could deal with the complaint.  If nothing else, it got them off MY back.

Watch this space.  I’ve given the bank 7 (calendar) days to come back to me and explain what gives them the right to alter my bank account arrangements without my express permission.  I may have thrown in a few choice insults about Victorian banking methods and the fact that they seem to switch their bank systems off on a Friday evening.  Either way, let’s wait and see.

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