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I am your bank, here to mess you around

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Last week I had my own little banking crisis. Having accepted the bank’s suggestion that I print my own statements direct from the internet, I discovered that the bank then set out to drive me mad. ‘To obtain your statement,’ said the webpage, ‘simply click on the link below.’

Unfortunately, there was no link below. I tried various methods to find it, including re-booting my computer and trying another internet server, but still it was not there. The web-page had been designed by Kafka.

I went to my local branch of the bank but unfortunately there was no one there who knew how to help me. However, since the accounts were in foreign currencies, they kindly called the foreign department for me. It was, of course, in India. The phone rang without an answer for some minutes. ‘It’s a dedicated team,’ said the bank clerk by way of explanation. ‘Not all that dedicated,’ I thought without saying anything.

The bank clerk explained the problem. It took a few minutes. Then the person in India asked to speak to me. He was very pleasant in a slightly obsequious way and asked me to explain the problem all over again. Then he asked me to hang on for a time while he ordered paper statements for me. He was gone for about ten minutes while the kind of drivelling music that some airlines use to calm their passengers as they board the aircraft played in my ear. I looked up at the poster on the wall next to me, with a picture of a smiling bank clerk:

HERE FOR YOU
They’re fantastic, and sort everything really quickly.
So I don’t need to worry. There’s no hassle.
A customer.

I spoke to the clerk who was helping me. I explained that I couldn’t write to the bank because I didn’t know who to address a letter to.

‘They wouldn’t reply anyway,’ she said.

The man in India returned to the phone and gave me a number for the order of the paper statements. I mentioned to the clerk that the number much resembled the size of the Greek national debt.

‘It’ll soon be written off,’ she said.

Then I spoke to another lady in the team dedicated to internet banking. She told me a new method of down-loading my statements. ‘I can absolutely guarantee,’ she said, ‘that there’s a fifty per cent chance that it will work.’

In fact, there was a 100 per cent chance that 33 per cent of it would work. I have three accounts and can now download the statements of one of them. It’s nice to make progress, especially after a whole afternoon’s effort.

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