From NatWest to HSBCPosted: December 30, 2010
“I’m sorry to hear that, Sir. Any particular reason?”
“Yes, your internet banking does work. I can’t even log in. Please can you just put all the cash into my current account and I’ll withdraw it from there.”
“Sorry but I can’t touch your E-Savings account you’ll have to do it yourself online.”
“But… but I can’t do it online. That is why I am closing it.”
“But you must do it online she says. It’s an E-Savings account. I can’t help you.”
“I am closing my account because the internet banking doesn’t work and I can no longer access it and you are telling me I have to access it before we can close the account.”
“But I can’t access it.”
“Have you tried the helpline?”
“Yes and they told me I was typing in the three digit number on the back of the card wrongly. They told me I had typed it wrongly ten times in a row. Repeatedly over a 12 month period. Three digits.”
“I am sorry sir, I can’t help you.”
“But…but this is my money. I just want to close my account.”
“Have you tried the helpline?”
I move to another queue the one to assistance and information. I explain again.
“Yes, I can do that for you. I could transfer it into your current account.”
“Could you pay off my outstanding credit card debt and then give me a cheque for the balance so I can pay it into a new account?”
“To issue a cheque takes three days.”
“Three days? But.. but… this is my money.”
“Well, could you give it to me in cash?”
“But you’ll have to join the other queue for the cash.”
The other queue is ten people long and there is only one person serving. I join my third queue.
Some time later I eventually reach the front.
“Could I withdraw this amount of money. (Hands over paper with final figure written on it by the advice counter lady).
“Will twenties be okay?”
“Well not really, it’s quite a lot.”
“Sorry but I only have a few fifties. Besides, If you want to withdraw all that money I have to fill out a form. (The form is two pages long and she is filling it in – in pen. NatWest likes paper. When I hit assorted brick walls in trying to deal with their internet banking and online helpline they’d insist I’d write a letter and send it by post from Hanoi, Vietnam to Harrogate, Yorkshire, England. They thought this was a reasonable request.
Anyway. Some time later.
“Sorry but I have to get the manager to sign this.”
She shrugs and disappears for another five minutes. Appearing eventually with the manager. He signs but doesn’t apologise for the wait.
We eventually leave the bank, some 70 minutes after we arrived in it, with literally all the money I have in the world in a brown envelope tucked under my arm.
Luckily HSBC is two minutes away.
We deposit the money on the counter with the bit of paper from NatWest saying how much is there.
“Can we pay this in please?”
“Sorry but you’ll have to count it.”
“But we already counted it. They wrote down the exact figure in the last bank. Please can we put that in our new account.”
“Sorry but you have to count each note. How many fifties, how many twenties etc.”
“Can’t you do that? You have a money counting machine. We already know how much there is. As long as your figure tallies with ours then we are all happy.”
“Sorry, you have to do it.”
“Can we use your money counting machine?”
We take another 20 minutes checking every cash bundle and itemising every single note. Standing on the public side of the glass amongst the queuees we look like idiots as we struggle to find places to put piles of counted bank notes. If it hadn’t taken me two hours to open this new account I’d have told them to shove it.
We hand it over.
Some 20 seconds later she finishes counting it with her counting machine.
“That’s fine Mr Jackson. Anything else I can help you with?”