Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Where's the money, Lebowski?


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About 6pm tonight the telephone rings. It's an American from Barclaycard. He asks me my name and he tells me he's from Barclaycard. I ask him for evidence of that. By way of reply he asks me for the year of my birth. Strange evidence in which I have to give him information. But I give it, because that's not giving away much. And it turns out he really is Mr Barclaycard. He's hard, fast and aggressive. He tells me I owe Barclaycard a middling three figure sum that was due yesterday. I don't quite believe I owe him since it is a matter of principle to pay everything on the nail. I've been with this bank for forty-one years and never had any trouble, always paid on the dot.

Nevertheless, he repeats it a little more impatiently and more aggressively, as in, Come out with it, you cheap chiseler, what have you done with it? I am beginning to resent this. I ask C what she knows about it. She hastily looks up the statement in her desk and says we've paid. I tell him we've paid. On line. He doesn't believe me.

C checks again online - all this takes about ten minutes because online is slow. Eventually we spot a mistake. She paid the sum owing on my card through her card. Five days ago. There is only a single number difference in our cards, and she is dealing with her father's estate and her sick mother, and I am dealing with my father's death and estate. The money has actually gone out of her account. Barclaycard have swallowed it, no questions asked.

Never mind that, we now owe Barclaycard a penalty of just short of £30.00. She has to use the credit on her card to pay for something she bought, and I have to pay out the figure plus the £30 and put up with the man's absurd rudeness. This is about 24 hours delay. He could have begun politely, like 'Do excuse me Mr S, sorry to bother you but...' but no. He's the bailiff with the shotgun.

Result: I write a letter straight to Barclaycard to say we are both leaving. No more credit cards from you. Thank you, Barclaycard, and no thank you. Thank you modern banking. Custom goes elsewhere.

Now I look down the pan again I think I see the money by the U-bend. In fact I'm sure its down there somewhere. Just push my head down once more and give me another look, would you?



11 comments:

Anonymous said...

I had a similar thing with them a few years ago. I'd missed a payment while travelling, but only one payment and it hadn't been outstanding for long. I was halfway across the Hungerford Bridge in London when I got called up by what seemed to be someone doing a joke 'East End heavy' turn: "So, we seem to ave forgotten somefink aven't we, Sir? Oh, yes, we owe a little bit of money on our card, don't we?" I was amazed: I really thought it was a friend messing around for a moment. I couldn't really believe that it was a large 21st century financial institution phoning me up to chase a small payment that was slightly overdue. I was at fault, but the approach was hugely overdone. I think Barclaycard had contracted out to a debt collection agency who were giving me the full Krays treatment. Any minute and it would have been: "That's a nice flat you live in, mate, innit. Be terrible if it met wiv a little... accident."

Mark Granier said...

Such moronic aggressiveness should be taped and made public.

Stephen F said...

You can't record their messages in order to monitor for training purposes, Mark; they can only record yours...

Poet in Residence said...

An American?
One of GWB's Wall Street chums I expect. Probably didn't like your new beard...

George S said...

One of GWB's Wall Street chums

True, they've never forgiven me since I was £1.29 short on a bill nine years ago.

ps Does GWB stand for George With Beard?

Poet in Residence said...

Or, George Without Bucks?

Absolutely true story:

Two or three weeks ago a 75-year old man with a speech impediment went into a bank in the centre of Vienna: "There's uh pistol."

Cashier set off the alarm. Police rushed in. Arrested him.

Turns out he had said: "Where's the Bristol (name of a nearby hotel).


Silver lining: Man gets a free slap-up meal at the Hotel Bristol!

Mark Granier said...

Good point Stephen, though some people do make attempts to even the odds (or make capital of them), like the American comedian Tom Mabe:
http://www.metacafe.com/watch/887232/tom_mabe_pranks_a_telemarketer/

Poet in Residence said...

There's a telling scene in one of Michael Moore's recent films, where he puts crime scene tape all over the front of the Bank of America in NY and invites the 'criminals' to come out with their hands up. Needless to say, nobody does; they're obviously much too busy.

A. N. Author said...

Cheers Mark, that was quality, as my homeboys say.

George S said...

Right Mark, so I get murdered next time...:)

Design Monkey said...

Hi George
In the week you write a letter of complaint, so do I.

I can't remember the last time I wrote a letter of complaint but I've written to the BBC about the closure of 6 music. You've asked in the past what kind of music I listen too, well I guess this station is it ... Here's my complaint:

http://design-monkey.blogspot.com/

Must go, I've now got to complain to the BBC Trust directly now. Amazing how the BBC scrap the kind of programming that they claim to be striving for ... and they keep BBC Three.