WISH I COULD THINK OF SOMETHING TO RHYME WITH BANKER…
NotNiceEtoile goes into another bank. (See previous A Load of Bankers post). It’s 31st May. She queues until what seems like 7th June to pay off the remaining amount of a small overdraft on a business account. Tells the teller (ah, what ironies of life) that she wishes to close the account.
The teller tells NotNiceEtoile (hence her title) that she can’t close the account herself, NotNiceEtoile has to see the woman sitting at the island information desk situated in a lonely sea of grey polyester carpet near the entrance. NotNiceEtoile looks at the teller, and considers either confessing her fears of being electrocuted whilst shuffling the half mile across the grey polyester carpet for another pointless conversation or, alternatively, hitting her around the head with a wet haddock. Realizing there’s six inches of reinforced glass wall protecting the obviously SAS-trained bank employee (who plainly excelled with the rule about never taking unnecessary risks), she remembers at the same time that she doesn’t in fact have a wet haddock with her. (Tsk. It’s in her other bag). NotNiceEtoile bids her farewell and sparks over to the queue for the Island Native.
Half an hour later, having found herself miraculously still alive (although the electrocuted hair look is a little startling for a Thursday), NotNiceEtoile states once more that she wishes to close the account. Island Native taps the account details into the computer (either that or she was endeavouring to book a rescue boat with 4 burly oarsmen to free her from her dreary Monday to Friday 9 – 5 castaway existence), says to NotNiceEtoile (she can’t tell her anything, she’s not a teller) that there’s a further 14 pounds to pay for future charges.
“How can there be future charges when I’ve just closed the account?” NotNiceEtoile asks, in the deferential tone she reserves specifically for those who use her as a try-out for statements of complete and utter bollocks.
Island Native murmurs something unintelligible. NotNiceEtoile thinks what’s 14 quid versus the will to live, so reaches for her purse.
Oh, you can’t pay here, you’ll have to queue up for the counter.
Something in the way NotNiceEtoile is snarling and turning purple – and is that the odd howl she can hear? – invites her to add But that’s OK, I’ll pay it in for you if you like.
She duly takes the money and disappears for 10 minutes. When she returns she carries on a conversation first with another bank employee, and then another customer behind NotNiceEtoile, before tapetty tap tapping data into her computer, and taking her life into her hands by volting over to the photocopier. (See what I did there?)
NotNiceEtoile signs sixty-six copies of ID forms, 43 consent forms, 179 closure forms (now is the summer of our disconsent). Her right wrist is so tired, she feels as if she’s been speechwriting for Jeremy Hunt. (Now there’s a man who can talk until his right hand drops off). Eventually Island Native announces it’s all done, NotNiceEtoile is free to go.
Cut forward to this morning, 15th June. NotNiceEtoile skips to the front door to see what goodies Postman Pat has brought her today. Gosh, bumper crop – there’s a sale on at Plumbs, the bathroom people, an invitation to a cervical smear appointment (is it Plumbing Friday already?) and a statement from the bank revealing the balance on her account is now -£8.92.
NotNiceEtoile glances at her calendar and sees that it’s summertime, so she pulls on her raincoat, wellies and medium-sized rubber dingy, and motors to another branch of the bank. Which is impressive, as she doesn’t own a motor.
NotNiceEtoile queues to see Man Friday at his island. (Nice-looking. Italian. Puppy dog eyes. Would consider being over-charged by him…) Anyway, waves pieces of paper in the air, explains loudly, in a sensitive and caring way, looks deep into those gorgeous…AHEM… he gets the gist, confirms on his screen the account was not shut down after all, is most sympathetic. Prints out account activity on account which doesn’t exist and which shouldn’t have had any activity on it, leads NotNiceEtoile to a side office, gives her a pen and a number for the customer helpline.
Five hours pass before there’s a voice at the other end. Further explanations ensue. Voice at the end of the phone says So you’d like to shut the account down today?
‘No, I’d like to shut down the account two weeks ago’.
Tap tapetty tap. OK, that’s all done for you now, and I’ve removed the extra charges.
NotNiceEtoile thanks him, and enquires about compensation for her time. After ten minutes is put through to Somebody Else. Somebody Else has already been briefed about the case, is extremely apologetic. Tells NotNiceEtoile it was a banking error, they’ve called up the branch involved (or rather, not involved, since they weren’t party to the closing of the account after all), branch has admitted the error. Offers 30 quid. NotNiceEtoile thinks it’s worth a punt, says “I think two hours of my time is worth more than that – call it 50 and I’ll go away”. Somebody Else checks with somebody else, comes back onto the line and agrees. Cheque is in the post. (Where have I heard that before?)
There was a story in the media this week about a bank up north somewhere offering an account which is accessible solely by an old-fashioned pass book. People don’t trust the internet, the bank has concluded, they’d rather turn up in person to see everything’s done properly.
NOISE OF HEAD SOMEWHERE IN SOUTHWEST LONDON BANGING AGAINST BRICK WALL
P.S. I had a haircut the other day. Called up in the morning and got an appointment that afternoon because luckily, Greece had cancelled.