BANKS

Today while I was at work I received a call from my bank asking me to confirm a transaction I (probably) tried to make yesterday for a princely sum to a different account I have. Naturally, as I have only finite quantities of princely sums, I sent through £1 first to check it was all ok. It worked fine and instantly. Then I tried to move the lot and it told me it would be moved tomorrow. Ok. So I wasn’t entirely surprised to learn the “fraud department” had tried to contact me.

They left a number I should contact them on, so naturally I ignored it and rang the customer service number. It went like so:

ROBOT:
Please enter your SORT CODE
Please enter your ACCOUNT NUMBER
Please enter your DATE OF BIRTH
For god’s sakes…
Please enter THE THIRD AND FOURTH DIGITS OF YOUR SECURE TELEPHONE BANKING CODE
My what? Frantic searching through documents… nope. No record of ever having such a thing.

Turns out if you ignore the voice long enough you get an option to be put through to a human. After some delightful hold music, they connected me to India where a man with a thick accent and what I assume is a hiring requirement – the inability to pronounce my name – answered my plea. I informed him what had happened, at which point he said “May I have your sort code … May I have your account number? … May I have your date of birth? … May I have the first and last digits of your secure telephone banking code?”. I explained I had no such thing, and he kindly forwarded me to another department to bestow upon me the fabled secure telephone banking code. Great, I thought, maybe he’ll transfer me back to Blighty.

More hold music. I’ve never heard anything so anti social in my life. And I listen to Dethklok.

No such luck; still India. Still can’t really understand what she’s saying. But after asking for my sort code, account number, card number, “memorable location” (which it turns out I had cunningly chosen to be easily guessable), she let me create a secure code. Which was jolly nice of her, even if it didn’t help me in the slightest. After all this we got back to the whole fraud checking thing. She informed me that nobody had tried to contact me! It would have come up on her screen, she assured me, and that the money had left my account and would shortly appear at its destination. I can’t say I was entirely convinced, but clearly I wasn’t going to get anywhere further at that point.

Then a few hours later, the fraud department phoned up again. She was English and didn’t have to consult her script when I wanted her to convince me she really worked for my bank. She told me a bunch of stuff about me, including the size of the payment I tried to make, and asked if it was ok. I said it was. She said they’d release it. I said thanks.

It still hasn’t appeared in my other account but I’m now a bit more optimistic that it will do so.

I don’t understand how banks have become such important parts of our lives. Whenever you have to remember they exist, they are completely unhelpful. And as of the end of last month, I am without a savings account with a higher than inflation interest rate. I don’t understand why I go through so much hassle so they can lose my money. I seriously wonder about converting all my money to gold bars and storing them under my bed.

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