Dear Barclays Bank,
(Before I begin, I must advise you that this letter is being recorded for training and quality control purposes, not to mention forming the basis of a blog entry on Friday 5th October 2018.)
A few months ago, I received a couple of cheques. Admittedly they are only for £20 each, so not the largest sums in the world, but it is still money that would be more helpful to me if it were sat in my account, rather than on two pieces of paper in my wallet.
Unfortunately, having already closed the Barclays next door to my office a few years ago, in July you decided that the Sandbach branch was also surplus to requirements, so now that has gone too. I believe the rationale was along the lines of nobody wanting to meet instantly with a representative from their bank anymore, when modern technology affords us all the luxury of being connected to someone in a foreign country, who has a poor grasp of English, within a couple of hours.
Anyway, your decision to close all of those nasty, cumbersome branches, now means I cannot get to my nearest one (which I believe to be somewhere in Wiltshire) during their opening hours of 11am – 2pm on every third Tuesday of the month, so I have encountered some difficulty paying the two cheques into my account. Call me petty, but I resent wasting a day of my (limited) annual leave, purely to do some personal banking.
“Never mind,” your online support muppet cheerily said when I first raised this problem back in July (and I must stress here, ‘muppet’ is a label I have given her, but feel free to begin using it in a more formal capacity if you wish, to address anyone in your employ who clearly failed their McDonald’s entrance exam), “did you know you can actually pay cheques in to your account at any local Post Office?” (she said this with such enthusiasm, she was clearly expecting me to whoop with joy at the news, so I can only assume she was under the misapprehension that everyone in England lives either inside, above, or next to a Post Office).
I responded to her e-mail to explain that, whilst this may well have been a feasible option (I didn’t want to admit there is a Post Office two minutes from my office), I would presumably require some form of ‘paying-in book’ to accompany said cheques, and the only one in my possession pre-dated Barclays other genius decision to change all their sort codes last year. As such, it is very much invalid (much like her suggestion).
Undeterred, ‘Sally No Stars’ responded once more, (feel free to give her a name badge to this effect), confirming that she had ordered some new paying-in slips for me, and they would arrive in ‘five working days’. That was approximately six weeks ago.
When they didn’t arrive within the time frame she promised (I actually allowed three weeks to be on the safe side), and I inquired as to their whereabouts, I received an apology and assurance that a second batch would be sent immediately. That was the end of August.
Left with no choice other than to complain, I then received a phone call a few days later from someone with slightly more about her (she might even have her first star, but only in something menial like ‘answering the phone’ or ‘photocopying’), who again apologised for her predecessor’s stupidity, since it seemed neither batch of paying-in slips had ever been ordered.
She reassured me that she was now placing the relevant order; but went on to explain that, in the amount of time which had passed since I first contacted your company, technology had actually advanced to the point where I could now pay my cheques in via your mobile banking app. All I had to do was take a simple photograph of the front and back of each, and that would be good enough for you to credit my account accordingly (presumably this giant technological leap for mankind was funded by all the branch closures, or have you already set those millions aside for your exorbitant Christmas bonuses?).
This all sounded wonderful, of course, but having spent several hours taking so many photographs of these fucking cheques that their image is now permanently etched onto my retinas, it seems whatever I do the app refuses to accept that what I am uploading is indeed a photograph of a bona fide cheque.
If the app would tell me precisely WHY it doubts the authenticity of my photos, I might be able to rectify the situation, but all I get is an error code, followed by some rather patronising advice to make sure:
- ‘There is sufficient lighting’ – ah, see, there I was taking the photograph under my coat, down a manhole, in the middle of the Mersey fucking tunnel. Except, having now taken the image in brighter and brighter environments – until I eventually ended up in our back garden, on a sunny day, using the flash on my phone and a desk lamp for good measure – I have concluded that the only level of brightness you will find acceptable, is if I am stood on the surface of the bastarding sun at the time;
- ‘The handwriting is clear’ – I assume, by this, you don’t mean the handwriting of the person who sent the cheques, as surely even you understand that I have no control over that whatsoever?;
- ‘All four corners of the cheque are included’ – silly me, since I thought I could take four images of the various quarters of the cheque, then jumble them up to make a nice little jigsaw puzzle for Sally No Stars to have a crack at. Admittedly, four-piece jigsaws are usually aimed at toddlers, but perhaps she can ask a colleague for help?
Anyway, the bottom line is, the photographs I have taken (or at least image #62 onwards), could not be clearer if you were looking at the actual cheques themselves, so I have arrived at the conclusion that, either (a) your mobile banking app is a crock of shit that doesn’t work; or (b) this is all a little game you have devised to send your customers slowly insane.
Now, I strongly suspect it is the former, but just in case it is the latter, and you like annoying little games, I have devised one of my own. Since you won’t accept any of the images I have taken of my actual cheques, and I assure you they are both perfectly legitimate, there follows a series of cheque-related images (or things that sound a bit like cheque, as I disappointingly ran out of ideas rather quickly) for you to decipher instead.
The answers are below, so don’t cheat, ok?
- Czech Republic
- Czech Flag
- Chequered Flag
- Petr Cech
- A ‘check’ mark
- A cheek
- A chick
- Chuck Norris
- ‘Chuckie’ from Rugrats
- Chiquitos (that one was obvious, but I was clutching at straws by this point)
Anyway, don’t worry about responding to this letter, as I doubt you’ll be able to help me – unless you fancy sending a member of your staff to my house to collect the cheques personally? Even if they travel from wherever your call centre is based, the chances are they’d arrive long before I manage to pay anything in to my account.
Thanks for nothing, Barclays, stick it up your arse.
Addendum – Thursday 4th October 2018
After nearly three months, two phone calls, seven e-mails, over one hundred photographs, fourteen headaches, an hour spent searching Google Images (for my own amusement, admittedly), and three visits to the Post Office (on the first two visits, the queue of pensioners – at lunchtime – was out of the fucking door), I have FINALLY paid my cheques in – with the new paying-in book and envelopes you eventually sent, I hasten to add, and not via the utterly useless ‘photo’ option on your mobile banking app.
Ok, I’ve probably spent more than the £40 in premium rate phone calls to your company, and I now have to sift through my phone to delete all 119 images of the cheques (you better hope, for your sake, I don’t develop a Repetitive Strain Injury in my thumb), but we got there in the end, eh?
Purely out of curiosity, I decided to work out what else could have been achieved in the three months it took me to pay a couple of simple cheques into my account with you, and here are my ten favourites:
- One-third of a human pregnancy;
- An entire dog or cat pregnancy;
- Three (consecutive) gerbil pregnancies;
- Two Falklands wars;
- The reign of King Edward V;
- Half a game of Monopoly;
- Walking from Land’s End to John o’ Groats…. and back;
- One series of X-Factor;
- Three football World Cups;
- A quarter of a game of cricket.
Oh, and just so you know, the next time my account goes overdrawn, and you try to charge me for the privilege, I’ll be requiring a photograph of my overdraft as proof. Only, the photograph must be taken at 3,000 feet, whilst in a hot air balloon, on a slightly overcast day, using a camera from 1973, by a woman named Susan.
It will then take me approximately three months to respond to you.