Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Is It Any Wonder People Have It In For Bankers?

Put on your high-heel sneakersImage by TW Collins via Flickr
The scene. A shop. Quite a noisy sports goods shop playing pump it up let’s get this fitness ting movin’ music. Sarah is trying to get me to make the decision between the black trainers with the black stripe and the black trainers with the pink stripe for her. The mobile rings.

“Hello, Alexander McNabb.”




“What do you want?”

“Is this Alexander McNabb?”

“Yes, it is.”

“This is HSBC customer service.”




“I’m calling regarding the issue you had with a transfer. You raised a customer support issue with Internet banking.”


“I need to ask you some security questions.”


“What accounts do you hold with us?”
(told her, not telling you. Not that I don’t trust y’all, ye understand)

“What is your current balance?”

“I have not got the faintest idea. Not a clue.”

“Well, what was the last transaction on your account?”

“I couldn’t even begin to tell you.”

*desperately* “What is your date of birth?”

“Fried eggs and ham.”

“Thank you. You had an issue with Internet banking. I’m just calling to help you.”

“What issue? I don’t remember an issue? When?”

“About ten days ago. You had an issue with IBAN numbers.”

“Oh, Lord, yes! I remember now! You require an IBAN number on transfers to the UK but there’s no field specifying that you need an IBAN number on the online form.”

“We now require an IBAN number on transfers to the UK. You can insert this in the ‘comments’ field in the online transfer form.”

“I know that now. I had to call your call centre to find out and then I asked the call centre person to escalate the fact that there’s not actually a field in the form that requests an IBAN number. That was my problem, you see? If you require a critical piece of information to complete a process, you actually need to ask people to insert that information in an appropriate field, marked, for instance, ‘IBAN NUMBER:’.”

“Yes. You have to put it in the comments box on the form.”

“But that’s my issue! How am I supposed to know that I need to put the IBAN number in at all? By osmosis? By a process of miraculous information transfer? Holes opening in the space-time continuum? How simple is it to put a field on the form that says: IBAN NUMBER:?”

“I apologise, but that is not possible at this time.”

“Oh come on! Of course it’s possible! A badly trained macaque of below average capability could add a field to an HTML page in less than ten minutes. Instead, they got you – a call centre operative with about as much chance of influencing any policy decision regarding your bank’s woeful inability to make its systems even marginally fit for purpose as I have of winning the UK national lottery – to call me and say sorry but it’s broken and we’re not going to fix it.”

“I do apologise. I can put a request to escalate this with Internet banking.”

“They pushed the whole issue down to you! Are you going to escalate it to them so that they can push it back down to you so that you can call me to tell me you’re sorry that the issue about the issue regarding the problem I had is still an issue?”

“I’m sorry.”

“Let’s face it, you have absolutely no ability to escalate any issue whatsoever, do you? All you’re going to do is repeat sorry until I stop shouting, aren’t you?”


“Why don’t we end the call right here? I don’t have to be rude to you and you don’t have to listen to a rude and angry customer and we can both get on with our lives without the irritation and frustration of this call and your Internet banking form will continue to lack a simple input field requesting information that is crucial to the process in question.”

“Is there anything else I can help you with?”

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hemlock said...

put your monies in a sock or under your mattress and every time you need to send some to UK, take a trip back home (in etihad; emirates has psychotic music).

HE said...

What’s worse than a rude and angry customer on the phone is a customer who is a smart ass, knows the system and knows exactly what the CS Reps answer will be. All those qualities + a blog = disaster.

I laughed so much, I was a bank employee once, phone banking. You are the worst kind of customer. :)

Anonymous said...

Classic! I feel your pain.

Abu el Banat

Luke said...

How did u know this person was from the bank? Isnt there a "telephone phishing" issue here? Last time my bank called me on a similarly pointless matter, the employee couldnt prove that he worked for the bank so we ended the conversation. He wouldnt even give me his last name, let alone his date of birth....

alexander... said...

Bloody hell! Abu! How very nice to see you, old fellow! And how nice to know I have such distinguished guests.

Hope you keep popping by!

alexander... said...

Sure, Luke, I've had calls like that where I've complained about giving my personal data to randoms saying they're from HSBC.

However, there is a test you can do: If it's a bad line, a poor telephone manner and the person on the other of the phone sounds listless, it's usually the bank...

The other one is to ask them to put you on hold for a few seconds. If it's a badly distorted version of Abba's 'The Winner Takes It All' then it's HSBC...

Luke said...

I have complained to ENBD on several occasions that their "on-hold" music is too loud. You have to hold the handset at an arm's distance to save your ear drum.

Susan said...

Customer "service" people have one job and one only - to keep the customer away from the person who can actually do any work.

I came really close (frighteningly close!!) to strangling an etishat guy the other day - having credited a data package to the wrong phone, despite being told three times which number it should go to, he then suggested that husband and I should swap phones for a month so he didn't have to fix the problem. It was soooo close.....

Cat Russell said...

Haha, I especially love it when they call you and then you have to prove who you are, and they can't or won't do the same.

I had the same issue with the online form, in fact in my case it seemed there was a mismatch between the name of the field and the name of the text box, so the info I entered didn't compute into a successful transfer. In the end I gave up and sent it from RBS, who are slightly better at this kind of thing.

But yeah, end of the day, if you want info then make your form idiot-proof. Seems they still have to learn this fact.

Seabee said...

Two of my pet gripes in one post -the useless, out of date websites of local companies and 'customer service'.

Paul J said...

A beautiful piece Alex and so very very similar to one of my many interactions with "cutomer service" I laughed out loud!

Doug said...

Try telling them you cancelled your credit card months ago and have now left the country - after being charged for a credit card I don't own, for an account I don't have, in a country I don't live in, I told them I'd cancelled 6 months and shouldn't have been charged.

So HSBC told me they were sorry that I had suddenly decided to cancel my account and that if I wouldn't mind dropping in to one of their many conveniently located branches, I would be able to cancel my account.

I'll just book my flight now...

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