Why is at all so complicated?

November 8, 2013

In the old days I knew my bank manager, he (and it always was a he. Still is in fact)  knew my parents and all was easy. You’d ring the actual branch and someone would know you and say yes, that’s fine, we’ll sort that out for you. Now you can’t ring a branch, only an anonymous call centre, but at least current bank (HSBC) is better than the old one (Barclays) on that score.  However, last night I wanted to pay a bill from my company and it needed to be done by today. So I logged on but my little security dongle thingy was dead. Usually I just press the button, it generates a random series of numbers and I type them in and hey presto, I have access to internet banking. But not last night. So I ring HSBC who tell me I just need to pop in to a branch and pick up a new one. Every branch has them, I didn’t need to make an appointment and she helpfully gave me the opening hours of my local branch. So I set off there smartish to get this done and dusted. But no. Apparently the “Business Manager” doesn’t get in for 9 and they are locked in her room. Come back at 11 ish and she should be in by them. I asked if the manager could open the door to her room. No, the manager was in a safety meeting. I was a bit grumpy. This is my business, I have to pay this bill by noon and I can’t keep coming in and out of here. Get me the Manager. She shuttled off and returned not with the manager but with a more senior person who magicked up a new dongle and told me to phone IT to get it activated.

I use thier direct line phone in branch and ring IT. They ask me the usual security questions and pass me on to Telephone banking. Who ask me all the usual security questions and pass me on to Business banking who ask me all the usual security questions and more. And tell me I have three goes to get them right. Apparently they are questions and answers I gave when I opened the account. They are to verify i am who I say, over and above the three rounds of security questions I have been asked. “I am ringing from your branch where I have physically shown three separate pieces of ID to your staff and am ringing on your internal phone. Surely you know who I am?” “Oh we have different security madam. Please answer the next two questions.”

Time is ticking. “Your mother’s maiden name” Easy. I can do that. And yes, I get it right. “The name of the street where you grew up”. “Hill” I say. She types it in. “No, sorry, that’s not correct”. I am flumaxxed. What on earth else could I have answered for the question? Neither of our other houses were on a ‘street’ – one was out in the country and the other I don’t think had a street name attached to it – it would have perhaps been “The Narrows”. ” How do you spell it?” ” H-I-L-L, I say. Like a small mountain.” No, it isn’t correct.

“Shall I try it without the space?” What the hell is she talking about? “Perhaps you typed it without the space, shall I try that?” I have no idea but agree. “No, it’s not that.” “Could it be to do with capitalisation?” I ask. “No,” she says, “That makes no odds.”

“What exactly are you typing in?” I ask, “Hill Street” she says. “Ah”, I say, as the pedant in me realises the likely issue, “Can you read me out the exact question I would have been asked please?”

“The name of the street where you grew up,” she says.

“Well I would have answered exactly what you asked for and no more I expect. The name of the street was Hill. I wouldn’t have included the repetition of “street” in my answer. Try Hill.”

It is my final chance before being locked out of internet banking and hurrah!  it works. Once a pedant, always a pedant.



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