Friday, 18 November 2011

Banks and the ever increasing vicissitudes of life

There are times when irritation smites you. There have been two such occasions this week.

From time to time I fantasise about online purchases. The temptation is not great. However after a lesson about iPhoto I went home to practice what I had learned, only to find that the instructor had used a more recent version than mine. Oh well I thought, I will go in and buy the whole iWork package. However it seems it is no longer available in this form. Instead, you buy bits and pieces of it on line.

I have a typical elderly female reluctance to indulge in on line purchases. I remembered the very techno-savvy husband of a friend telling me how he had a special low limit credit card to use for such purchases. Well, if it was good enough for the brilliant Steve, it should be worth doing.

The experience that has followed could well be serialised and has been more than enough to send me into a ranting and raging virago. (What is the male form of virago, by the way?)

Now here I am, a modest, unassuming aging female, who has always lived within her income, always pays off her credit card every month in full, uses direct debits to make sure I always pay my bills, and who has been a good and reliable customer of a bank beginning with A for quite some years. Surely, I said to myself, I can just call down and get an el cheapo credit card with a low limit, and explain to them I just want an el cheapo with a low credit limit for specific purchases, so that my real and ordinary card cannot be ripped off by those lurking OUT THERE somewhere in the ether to prey on innocent and stupid persons such as myself.

Off I took myself and queued in the bank. Eventually my turn arrived and I recited my request, and a form got filled in and sent off. Much to my surprise - given my existing credit history and the fact that I wanted a credit limit of $500, the request was not automatically approved. I had to supply the name of someone who could vouch for me. I did so and warned the person so nominated, who has known me a mere thirty years or so.

This morning someone from the bank rang me. Obviously they had not read the information I supplied and kept asking me stupid questions to which I had already supplied the answers. I began wondering about their literacy standards. They wanted to know how much I spent each month. I told them it was less than my income and if they wanted further details they could look up my credit card record, discover that I always paid off my credit card in full and paid most bills by direct debits. Eventually I got very shirty and told them that they were very inefficient, and had not checked the information previously supplied, and that I no longer wished to do further business with them, and to cancel my request for a credit card with a $500 limit. After adjuring them to report my dissatisfaction to their employers, I hung up.

But maybe I am just a slow learner. This afternoon I went out to buy food, and even more plastic folders in which to keep the ever-accumulating number of documents related to my current struggles. On the way I called into My Usual Bank, into which is paid my regular income, and from which my direct debits are paid, including my direct debit of the credit card payment. It took forever. I began to feel quite irritated. People kept queueing up to talk to the person with whom I was dealing, and interrupting. Time dragged on. I was sorry to be the cause of their delays. However this bank employee did not display the efficiency one might have expected. Everything took ages. Perhaps it was because that bank uses Microsoft. She too asked me for my monthly expenditure. I told her I did not know, but that as she had all my financial statements before her, she could see what payments were made to me both fortnightly and monthly, she could see all my direct debits, and also how much I withdrew in cash each month. I was starting to tap my feet, and the occasional sigh escaped me. Eventually she said all was done and we (I) would wait and see.

I'd hate to be a person on a low income. While my housing situation is uncertain, pending the outcome/result of all these legal struggles, I am on a comfortable income. Just ask my step-daughters! But we keep getting told how dreadful governments are, and how much better at everything private enterprise is, and then for two days running I find that the contrary is true. I am a good risk, but they do not make much money out of me, because I always pay on time, and thus incur no interest charges or penalty. Again I had to nominate a person who could vouch for me. I nominated my son, and remarked, 'He's known me all his life." This gentle sally provoked no reaction. Huh?

I know I am not as kind and tolerant as I used to be. Having had to deal with accounts and bills and payments after the death of Dr P, I found I was very liable to get very upset and enraged. I hoped that I had recovered from these reactions, but Alas, I found that in this regard I am still just like the tinder-dry bush in the heat of summer, and that the least little spark can ignite an horrific blaze.

So here I sit, growling away just like a lion, and feeling very very ready to bite.

When will it all end? Is all this worth being able to buy the update of iPhoto on line and download it?


molly said...

How frustrating! Given the hassle this involves couldn't you just walk inyto a store and buy what you need directly?

Anonymous said...

Hmm. There are some other options for buying online. I have a debit Mastercard, so it runs as credit but the money comes straight out of my bank account. No one would give me a credit card and I would not want one! Of course, the debit Mastercard is no less invulnerable to fraud and misuse. However, I've heard that you can buy preloaded credit cards that work much like gift vouchers, where you put a certain amount of money on the card and top it up as needed. Some websites allow Bpay, which you can do through your bank account online, and there's also Paypal. Do not despair yet.

Anyway, buying online is only half the battle. I ordered a piece of equipment from Dell last week and am now fighting with them and the delivery company, who claim they delivered it to my address where it was signed for by someone 'from reception'. As my address is clearly residential, who knows where on earth they took it.