Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Idiots and Incompetents

In the following transcription names have been changed to protect the guilty, it is otherwise accurate and verbatim.

“Good Morning! National Bank of Idiots and Incompetents, how can I help?” It’s the first time I’ve tried their call centre. There’s no VOIP hiss, and his Brummie accent sounds genuine. Thank god for that small favour, this was going to be complicated enough as it is.

“Yes, good morning. I arranged a CHAPS same day transfer last week of cash to fund my wife and my ISA’s for this year. Its not showing on the website, so I’m wondering if you can check to see if its arrived?”

“Certainly Sir! I just have to take you through a few security questions.”

Extract deleted.

“That’s fine Sir! Now, how can I help?”

“Err…” I pause, I manage call centres amongst other things, and I know scripts are there to reduce errors, but wouldn’t it be nice if this fine young, likely uni grad used a bit of his intelligence? “I arranged a CHAPS same day transfer last week of cash to fund my wife and my ISA’s for this year. Its not showing on the website, so I’m wondering if you can check to see if its arrived?”

“Let me see. No, there’s no cash showing in your accounts. Is there anything else I can help with?”

Deep breath. “Yes, could you put a trace, or talk to someone in the back office please? I know the funds left my other account, and I used the details provided in your ‘welcome pack’ to set up the transfer.”

“Certainly Sir, can you hold please?”

“Of c…” The cheery hold musak starts before I can respond. I hate that, its such a little thing, but why ask if you can’t wait for an answer? Its one of the many things I have our trainers drill into our agents. Common courtesy can be learned and be genuine.

“Hello Sir? Yes, we received your CHAPS transfer, but its been returned.”

“Excuse me? Why was it returned?”

“We don’t accept CHAPS transfers into ISA accounts.”

Another deep breath, give me strength, “Your literature lists it as one of the methods to fund an account, so…”

“That’s not possible Sir, we certainly have never accepted CHAPS into ISA accounts.”

“I’m sorry? I have the documentation right here in front of me. It clearly states that CHAPS can be used, and lists the Sort Codes and Account Details to use.”

“That’s not possible Sir, I’ll have a word with our Marketing Department. I’m sure it’s a typo.”

“Can you please just list off the details you have on the inbound transfer? I want to make sure it was correct, and that you’ve returned the money to the correct account.” He proceeds to list off my and my wife’s name, our sort code, our account, the bank address, then goes on to list where it was sent, which includes our names and our ISA accounts for the two inbound transfers. All correct.

“So, you had all the correct details, you knew our names, and had the right inbound account numbers, but you didn’t fund the accounts?”

“That’s correct Sir.”


“Policy Sir, we don’t accept CHAPS transfers into ISA accounts.”

“Do you think it might have been helpful if someone had called me to discuss the matter, rather than just bouncing the cash?”

“I’m sure they tried to Sir.”

“I can unequivocally reassure you they did not, my mobile is on 24 hours a day.”

“Can I just check we have the right number Sir?” Hey, some initiative, I am momentarily pleased for him. We check, they have the right phone number listed.

“OK, its now April 4th, tomorrow is April 5th and Mr Brown states that ISA’s have to be funded by the 5th. We’ve wasted a few days for me to find out you can’t do what you say you can. How can I get the funds to you then?”

“Oh! Well, we can accept funds by Debit Card!”

“Debit Card? Doesn’t that incur a 1 to 2% fee to your institution?”

“Uhh, I can check, but we don’t charge the customer anything Sir!”

“Why isn’t this in your welcome pack?”

“Oh it is Sir.”

“I’m sorry, I have it right in front of me, and it doesn’t say anything about using Debit Cards.”

“Oh I’m sure it does Sir! I’ll talk to our Marketing…”

“Department, yes, I’m sure you will. So, you’re telling me that you don’t accept a CHAPS transfer that is very secure and fraud proof, and costs me the customer money to use, but you will accept a Debit Card that is fairly wide open to abuse, and costs you the company money, but you don’t charge me?”

“Uhh… I think so Sir!”

Give me strength…


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