My money is safe in the bank. So safe I can’t get at it !
My bank card expires at the end of the month and normally a few weeks before that I am automatically sent a new one. But this time it must have got lost in the Christmas post because I didn’t get one. I was worried that I might not be able to buy anything from the 1st of February and that starvation was only a step away.
So I decided to ring up the helpline number on the back of the card. This is where customer service kicks in. I speak to a recorded message press 1 for “ nothing I could understand” ; press 2 for “nothing I wanted”; press 3 for “ nothing in particular”. I finally reverted to pressing 1 in the hope I might get a real person. No such luck, I got another automatic message saying “we are exceptionally busy right now, please wait and we will be with you as soon as possible”. Then I got entertained with some plinky plonk music regularly interrupted by repeated messages of how exceptionally busy they were. I nodded off for a while, eventually to be woken up by a real person. Well not quite, it was another recorded message asking some security questions :- “please type the third digit of the security number on the back of your card” Which I did. It was only when I was next asked to type in the fourth digit, that I realised that I had got the third digit wrong. Too late, they already had me down as a suspected fraudster. I was then abruptly told, that if I hung up my card would be ‘locked’. If I held on and listened to some more music, I could speak to a real person eventually although “we are exceptionally busy right now, please wait and we will be with you as soon as possible”. Then a bit more plinky plonk music!
A tune or two later the music stopped and a real person answered. As I was half asleep I didn’t catch her name, just the thick Glaswegian accent. She told me she had some security questions so that I could verify who I was :- name, address, post code and date of birth. Fortunately, I knew who I was so I could answer the questions correctly. I told her my problem and so she said “ in that case I have a few more security questions”. None of them were as simple as my mother’s maiden name, it was more like Eggheads except they didn’t give you alternative answers. I am normally quite good at quiz shows, but not today. I didn’t know what bank accounts we had with them. I didn’t know the favourite colour I had given them six years ago when I opened the account. Worst of all I could not recall what I had used the card for five days ago. I could tell she was beginning to lose confidence in me. In fact the fraud squad were probably on their way around as we spoke.
My money was safe, but I wasn’t.
Then as the interrogation was drawing to a close, I remembered I bought a small fridge six days ago at Sainsbury’s. “No that’s not it”, she said. “But I did, I bought a fridge”. “Not according to us you didn’t”. “Well OK maybe it was Argos inside Sainsbury’s“ “Sorry I have to accept your first answer”
Then she very politely explained that the system had now locked me out for my own sake and I couldn’t get any more money until I personally visited my bank with some photo ID. Preferably not wearing a mask and definitely not carrying a fire arm.