I’m not usually one given to making sensible plans so it was with something approaching bemusement that I found myself in the local branch of my bank this week.
I hadn’t gone there to have a look at all the money in the vault which has come out of my back pocket courtesy of Gordon Brown & his cronies in the last few months, although perhaps I should have done so, just to get my money’s worth.
No, I’m making plans for my impending changing financial circumstances; in a few weeks, I’ll be receiving more money than I’ve ever had in my life through my pension commutation. I thought it might be a good idea to have a chat with the old bank manager as to where to stick it, so to speak, at least until such time as I’ve sorted out my eventual plans.
So I made the appointment for me & Mrs Weeks & we duly arrived. We sat in the main lobby for our manager to come & get us. Every few seconds a man in a suit would come out of the door, walk across the lobby & disappear in another door. Each time I looked in expectation but they weren’t for us.
“There’s a lot of men in suits in this bank, aren’t there” said Mrs Weeks doing her ‘stating the bleeding obvious’ usual.
Eventually a man came out “Mr Weeks?” “Yes” I said, thankfully. “Can you just bare with me for a few minutes, I need to pop upstairs”, & with that he disappeared as swiftly as he’d arrived. ‘Bloody great!’ I thought as I saw another 10 minutes being knocked off my dinner time pint.
He came back about 7 or 8 minutes later & as he led us into the inner portals of the bank, he said he was being monitored by another member of staff & it was nothing for us to be concerned about.
Oh great, we’re being advised by some incompetent on his last warning before being sacked, I thought, ever the optomist.
So we sit down in an office clearly designed to hold a mop & two brooms & I outline my imminent financial change. I can almost see him rubbing his hands but not quite, he’s had several squillion of my hard-earned taxes already, why not go for a few tens of thousands more? He gives us his business card with a smile which says ‘internal bonus’.
He gets our accounts up on the screen and notices we have a specific account among the others. Apparently, this means that he can’t deal with us & we have to see someone who deals with those specific accounts. I tell him what he already sees in front of him, that the ‘special’ account only has twenty quid in it and doesn’t get used much, only ever has a maximum of a couple of hundred quid and is really unimportant to me, so can’t he just get on & talk about where or what my commutation will be paid into?
At this point, the senior member of staff, who has, until now, been silently typing stuff into a laptop, says that rules is rules and the banks policy is for one a specific department to deal with anyone who has one of their ‘special’ accounts regardless of whether they have much bigger ‘normal’ accounts. BUT, if we closed the ‘special’ account (as we don’t really use it) and transfer the Ã‚Â£20 to another ‘normal’ account, then we can be dealt with today. By now we’d been there an hour & I could rapidly see my lunchtime pint turning into a lunchtime half. “Yes, do that”. I said.
So my manager says that in order to close that account, we’ll need to see an account specialist, but we can do that in a minute.
After a few more questions & answers, we decide to open a new account into which my commutation will be paid until I decide how I want to spend/invest it. Great. Nearly there.
Or not quite, when he finds out the size of the electronic transfer soon to be making his way he then tells us that he has to pass this on to one of the senior financial advisers because we will have more money than he is allowed to advise on. He then leaves the room to get his senior manager (we all have to stand & pile our chairs in the corner so he can open the door, move the chairs back, sit down, then stand up again & crush into the corner so him & his senior manager can get back in the room.
We get introduced to the senior financial adviser who gives us his business card, explains why he is a senior financial adviser, makes an appointment to see him a week next Tuesday & leaves, after we’ve stood up, moved the chairs & let him out.
Back to manager one, who tells us that we can now open a new account for the electronic transfer, change my ‘special’ account into a normal account & be on our way. Fantastic.
Except that he needs to leave the room to get an account specialist. (more moving of chairs, sitting down, standing up & moving of chairs so he & the account specialist can come back in, followed by moving back of chairs so we can sit down again).
We’re now beginning to understand why there are so many bloody men in suits; they can all only do one thing each.
We get introduced to the accounts specialist who gives us another card, by now we’ve got so many I’m considering drawing hearts, clubs, diamonds & spades on them & amusing myself in the corner of the room until they’ve finished. Mr Accounts Specialist takes us to his office which is marginally larger than the first guy’s so he must be a bit more important, although he has exactly the same three paintings on his wall.
So, we’re closing one account, transferring the money from that into a brand new account, then we’re opening another account into which our kids’ heritage is being paid & why don’t we open a couple of ISAs while we’re at it. Brilliant. Should be enough time in the pub for a couple of peanuts & a piss.
So we close one account. All straightforward. We open another account, going well, we then open our new special joint account only when it comes time to check the paperwork he’s opened it in my name & my mothers’ because I have a joint account with her at the same bank which is nothing to do with my wife who happens to have the same initial.
So we have to amend that so Mrs Weeks can be put on it & my mum taken off but he needs a form (it’s not only policing in which there is a form for everything!). He goes & gets the form which we sign but he has to take it to the specialist in fucked-up opening of accounts ‘cos it’s only the specialist in fucked-up accounts who can unfuck-up an account, so I ask if he can get his business card too, so I can add it to the collection.
He comes back to proudly announce that we are now the proud owners of an unfucked-up account into which we can pay our riches. Now there’s just the matter of the cash ISAs or whatever they’re called. These go remarkably swimmingly. My wife’s goes through, mine can’t because they don’t have my national Insurance number & unlike Mrs Weeks, I haven’t got the bloody faintest idea what it is, but that’s OK, if I sign the forms I can text it through to the bank later, no need to get India to fax it through the the branch, bonus.
Two and a half hours later, we leave the bank. No wonder the banking industry is in the state it is.
I’ve missed my lunchtime pint but our time before school kicking out wasn’t all wasted; we made an appointment at the bank across the road.