It’s been a bizarre few days. Someday I shall relate all the trials and tribulations of the house buying process (and won’t that be fun…) but not when I’m still living them. But I have been spending a great deal of my life on the phone, dealing with various professionals in various capacities, all of which has been thrown into delirious, Kafka-esque relief by my attempt to win the compassion of an Evil Robot Woman while I was jammed in a photocopier.
Incidentally, I told my partner about this and H positively dripped unsympathy. Said it was all my own fault and ringing up the photocopier repair people was the equivalent of complaining to the designer after snagging your foreskin in the zip of your trousers.
And apparently normal people do not get stuck in photocopiers. And, should normal people happen to get stuck in photocopiers in the course of their normality, normal people shout for help like normal people.
Anyway, unrelated to this, yesterday I had to telephone my bank. The reason I had to telephone my bank was very banal and it was this: I had to transfer a shocking amount of money to a solicitor, for house-buying related reasons, and my bank wouldn’t allow me to do this over the internet. I do all my banking over the internet, if I possibly can.
It’s grotesquely middle class of me, and I have no idea where it’s come from, but I absolutely hate talking about money and dealing with money. I’m perfectly competent at it and I ensure there’s more coming in than going out, but actually having to look someone in the eye and discuss it induces some kind of toe-scuffing, hand-wringing disorder. I think it’s because for quite a lengthy stretch of my life I had no money, and only very limited ways of acquiring it, coupled with a lot of self-destructive, adolescent pride, and now I think if the universe notices I’m turning into a flash git, it’ll take all my shit away.
So, all paying, and being paid, borrowing and lending, happens safely behind the screen, as far away from people as can be reasonably managed. Except. Bam. For some reason, the system was claiming it couldn’t set up a new payee because it didn’t have a phone number to verify I was me. This was not only A LIE, it was a BLATANT LIE because my phone number was RIGHT THERE. Work, home, mobile, beacon fires, you name it.
So I had to ring a person. And this all went pretty smoothly. I got through, without angst, to a very nice woman who hailed from my little part of the UK, so she got to watch (or rather listen to) me do my quick change act from posh over-privileged middle class wanker to regional boy makes good. Fuck that petite Madeleine, for me voice is the most emotive thing in the world. It can make ten years of living an entirely different life feel like nothing at all. So I spent about happy minutes chatting to this woman about … gahn dan the danca … and other incomprehensible things, before we both remembered I was supposed to be doing some banking. I explained my problem and she was all “Nae botha pet” (which made me melt into a small, loving pile of nostalgic goo) and offered to set up the transfer over the phone.
So that was all going swimmingly until she asked me for the second and fourth letter of my six digit phone banking pin. Uhh, what? If I had such a pin, angels could have been dancing on the head of it, for I had no memory of ever having received it, thought about it, or knowingly used it. I made a few wild guesses at Numbers I Quite Like until she said I’d have to go to technical support.
I bounced around a bit, finally got through to an unregional but still perfectly acceptable technical support chap and explained the whole mess yet again. He confirmed it was a problem with the system, not a problem with me, and offered to set up the transfer for me – without recourse to a pin I’d never heard of, by the simple matter of answering a few security questions. I aced the security questions. Standardised tests have always been my bitches. And when the subject is myself, I like to think I’ve got some expertise. Not counting my inability to guess my own memorable numbers.
Tech dude: Right, Sir, that’s all going through for you now. I’ll just be registering this as a complaint…”
AJH: Uh, what? No, please don’t do that, I’m not complaining, I’m very happy.
(Just to contextualise this, I have worked – in my life – more shitty jobs than I have teeth, including a call centre at which I lasted, um, I think 8 days before I got fired, so I am consequently fundamentally incapable of complaining about anything, ever. I remember too vividly being on the other end of it).
TD: Since it’s a problem with the system, I need to flag it up so that it’s handled and fixed, and the only way to do that is to input it into the system as a complaint.
AJH: I’m really not comfortable complaining, I’ve received very good service.
TD: I’m terribly sorry, but I’m afraid that’s the way it works, there’s nothing I can do about it. But I absolutely understand where you’re coming from and, again, I could only offer my sincere apologies for the inconvenience to yourself.
It is, at this point, that I recognise he’s going into the “responding to a complaint” script. The irony does not escape me: in complaining about not wanting to make a complaint, I have thus made a complaint, and been moved into the unhappy customer box.
And I’m going to hell.
AJH: No, no, it’s fine, if I have to make a complaint, I’m happy to make a complaint. Whatever makes your life easiest. Thank you for the help.
TD: I’m registered your complaint now, Sir. I just want to say, thank you for your feedback. We take our customer satisfaction very seriously indeed and I will personally be ensuring nothing like this happens to you again.
AJH: It’s fine, honestly. I’m perfectly content. I don’t mind. I’d just like to be able to transfer this money…
TD: And I completely understand that, Sir. I’m so sorry to have kept you waiting. Let me just have a word with my manager.
AJH: No, no, please don’t do that. I’m fine!
TD: *hold music*
To be fair, this call has taken rather a long time. As in, about twenty minutes, while they fixed the technical problem, while I happily played Robot Unicorn Attack with my other hand.
TD: Okay, Sir, again, I just want to apologise to you on behalf of myself, the technical team and [your bank].
AJH: Please stop apologising. I’m fine. I’m really fine. Can I go now?
At this point, I feel like there’s some kind of disconnect between what is coming out of my mouth and what is going into his ears. What I think I’m saying is “it’s all good, I’m good, you’re good, let’s partay” and what he seems to be hearing is “OH MY FUCKING GOD I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS. THIS IS ENTIRELY UNACCEPTABLE. I AM SO OUTRAGED AND ANNOYED MY EARS MIGHT LITERALLY FALL OFF UNLESS YOU SOOTHE AND PACIFY ME IN THE NEXT TWO SECONDS.”
TD: And a gesture of our good will, we’d like to reimburse you for this call.
AJH: That’s really not necessary… [I’m kind of phoning from work so … y’know…]
TD: No, Sir, we insist. You’re phoning from a landline, aren’t you? Let me just do a quick calculation. Okay, that’s £1.49. I’m going to transfer £1.49 to your account right now, Sir, to reimburse you from this call.
AJH: Really? Do you have to? I don’t really need-
TD: No, you’re absolutely right, Sir. That’s a very small gesture, I know. I tell you what, what we’re going to do, is we’re going to give you £10 right now, as a gesture from me to you, how’s that?
AJH: Well, I don’t really want-
At this point I suddenly realised I was about to say “Well, I don’t really want £10” which is a stupid thing to say, even if you don’t – in fact – want £10. So I shut up and my bank gave me £10. Well, technically £11.49.
I am so very confused.
Maybe I should ring them the next time I get my hand stuck in a photocopier.