I went into Sainsburys last night. They had signs up everwhere saying, “Try Something New Today”. So I did. I f**ked off to Morrisons instead.
Christmas is always the time of year when you run low on cash, so I decided to call my bank to arrange to see my Pensions account manager. I needed to see the pensions guy at Scottish Widows. Lloyds TSB bought this company some time back and you’ll find a Scottish Widows “dude” in each branch trying to flog you a pension. However one thing I hate about LloydsTSB is having to call them up. If I want to arrange to see someone I usually have to walk into a branch and say, “Can I see my account manager, because I can’t call you direct.”
LloydsTSB stopped allowing people to call their branches direct some years ago, but then they set up the “LloydsTSB Contact Centre”. It’s a very authorititive sounding name for what was in effect a call centre somewhere in Scotland. Either way, although this wasn’t ideal you’d still be able to speak to someone and ask for a new cheque book, or to see the account manager, or to change a name on your account or something – just simple day-to-day stuff.
Todays world of banking is great – I can go online and extend my overdraft, request a cheque-book (I do this once a year when I’ve written the road tax one, then lost the book), look at my balance, see my transactions etc etc. It’s fantastic. However, when you want to do something slightly non-standard which you can’t do online you have to call up, but.. this is when problems occur – and today it got much worse..
If you call up the LloydsTSB Contact Centre now you get…
“This number has now changed. You must now dial the Lloyds TSB Phonebank. We will transfer you now…”
Uh-oh… I know what this means.. This means that whatever I ask for will go horribly, catastrophically wrong. I’m getting transferred to the Indian call centre, and although the people are intelligent and well-mannered they don’t have much idea of day-to-day living in the UK. In fact, the last time I called I got this…
Me – “Hello? I’d like to order some foreign currency”
Them – “Certainly Sir, which branch would you like it delivered to?”
Me – “The one in Newcastle Under Lyme please, but I think there’s two of them”
Them – “Newcastle, certainly. However we’re only showing one branch here.”
Me – “Is that the right Newcastle though ? There’s Newcastle Upon Tyne and Newcastle Under Lyme, they’re pretty far apart, so I need to make sure”
Them – “I’ll check Sir, can you give me your sort code?”
(I give them that)
Them – “Sir your local branch is Lichfield, yes?”
Me – “No, that’s where I opened that particular account when I was 16. It’s just the sort code of that branch. I don’t want to pick it up from that branch.”
Them – “It is showing as the nearest to your address Sir.”
Me – “Yes, yes it is – from my home yes, but I’m at work, so I want to pick up the currency in my lunch break, so I need the Newcastle Under Lyme one please, on the high street.”
Them – “I’ll do a search for ‘Newcastle’ and ‘High Street'”
Me – “No.. noooooo.. Not ‘High Street’, that’s just the name we give the shopping area through the town. It’s like when I say, ‘It’s on the main road’. It’s not called ‘Main Road’, it’s just what you call the big road going through a town or village.”
Them – “I don’t understand Sir”
Me – “I tell you what, can I cancel this ? I’ll just go to the Thomas Cook shop and do it over the counter tomorrow.”
Them – “Thank you for calling Sir, would you be interested in a low-rate loan?”
Agggggghhhhhhhh! I can understand the economics of outsourcing everything to India, but it’s so mind-boggingly annoying because I only EVER call the “Phonebank” when the Internet Banking won’t let me do something, or it’s down. So anyway, today I called and I wanted to speak to the Scottish Widows representitive or account manager at the local branch. This was fairly easy before, when the “Contact Centre” was online, however now I’ve got the phonebank crew.. and again the request totally dumb-founded them..
Them – “Good afternoon Phonebank, my name is Mishika can I help you?”
Me – “Err.. Morning ? I’d just like to arrange to see the Scottish Widows guy at my local branch please? I just want to change the amount I’m paying into my pension.”
Them – “Is it a direct debit ?”
Me – “Yes.”
Them – “Who to ?”
Me – “Scottish Widows, but last time I had to go into the branch and fill in some paper-work so I need to have a chat with him again really, and this is the only number I have for LloydsTSB now.”
Them – “Sir if this is a direct debit you will need to speak to the company involved”
Me – “But that’s you.”
Them – “I don’t understand Sir, this is Scottish Widows”
Me – “Yes, LloydsTSB own Scottish Widows. I just want to speak to someone about my pension.”
Them – “We are not part of that company sir, you need to speak to them.”
Me – “You are though, you’ve got a Scottish Widows representative in every branch and massive adverts for pensions in every branch.”
Them – “I do not know sir, we do not have a way of checking that.”
Me – “Ah yeah, I forgot – you’re in India. Well, here in the UK LloydsTSB – your company – bought out Scottish Widows, and when you go into a branch you’ll find that they’re now situated within the branch and you’re selling pensions with leaflets and posters. There’s usually a desk with someone sat behind offering pensions advice. I just need to arrange to speak to one of those people.”
Them – “I can arrange for you to speak to your account manager?”
Me – “No, that’s someone different… I tell you what, I’ll walk down there at lunch time and do it myself. Bye…”
How friggin’ annoying. In the end I walked down and sorted it out with them, but I had to take my entire lunch break doing it. Who made this decision huh ? Why am I paying almost 10 quid a month for some muppet, who’s being paid 10p an hour, to completely feck up every single request I make?! I mean sure, if I call up and say, “Can I have my account balance please?”, they’d more than likely get that request spot-on, but ask them something challenging and their lack of UK knowledge brings the whole thing to a stand-still.