Tuesday, 13 April 2010

A visit to the bank

Some time ago, my friendly building society with whom I have saved since just before I first got married in 19..mumbley mumble, got taken over by a large bank. My two accounts immediately went into the lowest interest saving scheme they owned and my nest egg began to evaporate faster then the rate of inflation. I was not too delighted about this, first because of the obvious and second because I had boycotted the large bank due to its international political affiliations many years before and did not trust it. So about three years ago I re-distributed my money into a better company at much better interest rates and closed the two accounts they had instigated. This was not an unusual request, and when you tell a Bank to close an account and it has no money in it, you kind of assume it is closed, but no. The larger of the two accounts went smoothly enough, because it was an ISA and that has very strict rules about how it is moved from bank to bank. The other account apparently did not close and unknown to me had had some outstanding interest paid into it totalling about four pounds. I was not informed until at the end of the year they sent me a statement. I did nothing for some while, but recently after the BIG bank crisis, it was suggested that banks would start to reintroduce bank charges unless you have a considerable amount in the bank. I felt that four pounds would not make me eligible for no bank charges so one afternoon I went to the bank to re-close my account. On asking at the enquiries desk, I was ushered upstairs and told that I would have about a thirty minute wait. I sat and waited – and waited – and waited – and waited and after an hour and ten minutes I felt that I had better things to do and left.
This was about a year ago and because we were going to that part of town again yesterday, I decided to give it another go.
In the mean time the bank has been refurbished, very swish, but why are there ceramic toilets placed at intervals around the room? It soon dawns on me that these are contemporary style tables that were made in white plastic that some strange, and to my mind in need of psychiatric help, artist/designer had created. By association of ideas, they must exacerbate the urgency experienced for anyone in their presence that needed to visit the bathroom, and would only need a seat on the top to complete the likeness.

On arriving at the Bank I had been through the same procedure but this time I was told I would only have a fifteen minute wait. Since there were only three people in this spacious waiting area already and there were about ten booths with Bank staff industriously typing away on computers, I assumed that along with the refurbishment, service had got better but even if it had not, I was well ahead of the crowd. Once seated with my gaze constantly being drawn to these atrocious things, acting as tables, that I noticed no one actually used all the time I was there. I waited and Waited and Waited and several people joined me. Some of the late arrivals were called into empty booths, so I looked around and the three people who were there before me were still waiting. A lady came in and sat down between me and one of these unfortunate original customers, a rather elderly lady whom I noticed had a crutch. Within three minutes, the new lady was called into a booth. The elderly lady began to look rather agitated, so
I turned to her and asked her how long she had been waiting. ‘Just coming up to an hour’ she told me, ‘and I was the second one here.’
We had a short but satisfyingly loud conversation about rotten service, which was cut short when she was called into a booth.
Soon after I was called to another booth. The Bank lady who had called me over, without trying to keep me on as a customer went through the motions of closing my account. Only time will tell if this has really happened.
I then went and had my hair cut. This was not because I had closed an account, you understand, but it was one of the reasons that The Better Half and I had gone into town.


  1. Oh my, Snafu - what a story! I wouldn't hold my breath that your account will be closed, if I were you.

    DOTH also has a banking story. She had a meagre amount of money in a two-year investment which recently matured. She hadn't given a thought to it, assuming that when it became due she would be contacted.

    Last week she received a bill from the bank in the amount of $25. Her investment had matured at the end of March and they had put her funds in one of their accounts to 'hold it until further instructions from the customer.' But they didn't contact her to remind her it had matured. They simply sent her a bill for service charge for having money in an inactive account.

    As DOTH says, "Why I am being charged service charge for an inactive account? If it is inactive, what on earth is the bank doing to earn that $25??"

    Surely they should be giving her interest, because they actually have had the use of her money free of charge for 2 weeks!

    You can rest assured that someone on the other end of the phone is going to be at the mercy of DOTH's wrath -- that is, when she can actually reach a real, living, person to talk to !

  2. Moral of the story: Never trust banks -- for that matter I double and triple check everything -- even an order at KFC. I know I'm getting cynical in my old age.