Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Another banking wally...

Another bank gets added to my 'wallies' list...

When I was back in the UK I went into Abbey to close my business bank account. In a branch, face to face with a nice human being who did everything needed before my eyes and got me to sign all the relevant papers. She (of course) also tried to dissuade me. Well, actually, she accepted it because I told her that I had already opened an HSBC account to change to. She said they would close it and send me a cheque for the balance. The balance at that stage was just a few pounds and paying this in to my Cyprus account would have cost more than the value of the cheque.

Next thing I find is that somehow I have money coming into this account [Ooops, I had forgotten to tell someone the new bank details] and the bank are still sending me statements. Irregularly. Strange, since as part of the closing procedure they had removed me from the Internet banking system.

Yesterday I phoned the bank. All the usual security questions. Including 'What is the number on your bank card?' I don't have a bank card any longer, I destroyed it because I should no longer have this account!

'We have no record of you requesting the account to be closed'. Is this another method of keeping customers? But you closed my Internet banking correctly. 'Could you go into your branch please and do it again'. I am in Cyprus, so, no that's not possible, can I FAX you the instruction? 'Yes, no problem, here's the FAX number'.

I immediately go and type a FAX, sign it and add a copy of my passport - I don't want them then coming back wanting evidence of my identity. In the FAX I ask them to FAX back confirmation that it is all done.

No FAX reply so today I phone again. Same security questions. Except new one 'Can you tell me all the recent transactions on this account?' No, because that account should be closed and all the deposits are in error. I can only tell you transactions from when you irregularly send me statements as I don't have a card for the account, which should be closed, and cannot access Internet banking any longer. Eventually they accept I am who I claim to be.

I then ask them to tell me the status of the instruction I FAXed them yesterday. 'We don't have any FAX from you, sir' - banks generally start using sir when they are covering up some incompetence or another. But I have a FAX confirmation that you received it. 'That's only your word against ours.' OK, can I FAX it again and will you wait on the line to confirm you get it? 'Sorry, sir' [sir again] 'The fax is not in this room and we don't have access to it'. Can you get whoever is in the room to check while I FAX it. This is the third time I am trying to close my account with you!

'Will you hold for a moment, sir.' I wait while innocuous so called music assaults my eardrums. I put the call on speakerphone so that its not quite so bad. Minutes pass. More minutes pass. 'Did you send the FAX from Cyprus?' Yes, I did, why? 'Did you use the correct country prefix?' Yes, of course I did, I also know I connected to your FAX machine since I heard the FAX tones and I have a receipt to show your FAX machine accepted it.

'Will you hold for a moment, sir.' I wait while innocuous so called music assaults my eardrums. I put the call on speakerphone again so that its not quite so bad. Minutes pass. More minutes pass.

'We think we have found it now, sir' [I wonder which pile of papers scattered around the room they had to knock over and plow through to find it... do we really trust our money to people like this?] 'My supervisor has now signed off on it and it will not take the normal 3-5 days for processing, but we will do it hopefully today or tomorrow.' Hopefully.

Well that was the irritating bank problem. Now the very irritating one. We pay our utility bills through bank transfers online. You should also know than in Cyprus they use a comma not a full stop to show the cents. Mostly. Usually. Not always. So £12,34 means twelve pounds and thirty four cents.

The Bank of Cyprus Internet banking system here doesn't have separate fields for pounds and cents like the Abbey one in the UK to ensure you get it right. When you type the amount as £12,34 the system says do you want to transfer £12.34. Yes, you did read that right. One place is a comma the other a full stop.

Not consistent. Easy to make a mistake. Today we did. By accident. Now instead of paying twenty one pounds to one utility company we paid two thousand one hundred and have all the hassle of getting the money back from them.

Just a thought... often when you call a bank or similar organization you get a message something like 'Calls may be recorded for training and...' Is it legal to record calls to a bank and then send it to them for their training?

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