"Please press 8 to speak to a customer service representative."

I don't know why it's 8. Options 1-4 are about borrowing money, moving money, or opening accounts in which to keep more money. Option 5 I forget; options 6 and 7 don't exist. One of these days, I'll press 6 and see what happens. But not today.

"Hello, Dr Blue. How can I help you?"
"Hi! I'm calling about a letter you sent me a couple of days ago."
"It says you're reducing the interest-free portion of my overdraft to £1000, and that you're charging a fee for that, because I went over my overdraft limit a few months ago. And you always charge a fee for doing anything with overdrafts more than once in a six-month period."
"Right. That's our policy. Any time you request a change to your overdraft arrangements -"
"Okay, but, I didn't request it. The letter you sent me says it's just an automatic thing, because this is Year 2 of a graduate account."
"Yes. That's how they work."
"And I'm getting charged for this because this arrangement happened after I went over my overdraft limit before."
"Yep... yep, I can see that from your record here. That's why they charged you."
"But if I hadn't gone over my overdraft limit before that arrangement, I wouldn't have got charged?"
"Well, not if you hadn't requested any other overdraft limits before then, no."
"Right. See." Take a breath. "It's just, you already did reduce the interest-free portion of my overdraft to £1000 a few months ago. I have that letter here from you saying so. It's dated June the 8th. And that was before I went over my overdraft limit. So... why am I being charged now?"
"Can I put you on hold for a minute, Dr Blue?"
"No problem."

No problem at all, because I have beaten the bank, smugness smugness victory. They cannot possibly dispute this. I have two letters in front of me saying the exact same thing about reducing my overdraft, except one of them's dated June and one of them's dated August. They cannot possibly charge me for changing something in August when that change already happened back in June. They cannot possibly.

Oh, but they can.

I was going to cover the rest of the conversation here, but it got lengthy and involved a disproportionate amount of "What? No, but... what?". So, to summarise:

1) They have no record of the earlier letter on their system. As far as they are concerned, the overdraft changes are happening at the end of September only, and thus I am liable for the fee.

2) After me pointing out a little snappishly that I am LOOKING AT THE LETTER RIGHT NOW and it SEEMS PRETTY OFFICIAL-LOOKING TO ME, glossy paper and everything, they explained that they can't see it because 'matters to do with graduate accounts are dealt with by the branch, and we are very limited as to what communication from the branch we can see on our systems.'

3) After me pointing out that it does not say it has come from the branch, that the contact details given are the central telephone banking number rather than the branch, and that it is signed 'Colette Nugent, Head of Customer Communications', they told me to go into the branch in person and have them explain it to me.

4) After me pointing out that a) the branch is 250 miles away and b) the letter really honestly looks pretty centralised to me, they told me that it has to be sent from the branch, because the branch deals with specific matters about the exact amount your overdraft is for, while their letter is not about specific amounts and interests and is just a 'general overdraft review', so it's really not the same letter at all.

5) After me pointing out that the two letters said the exact same thing, about the exact same arrangements, quoting the exact same amounts, about the exact same account, with the only difference being that the formatting was better in the first letter, oh yes I went there, they said they could not hear me properly on this line and could I phone back during branch opening hours please.

I suggested I write to them instead, and that way I could send them a photocopy of both letters and they could clear up the mystery from their end. They said sure, and I was welcome to address that to the manager of my local branch.



  1. I'd ask to get put through to complaints, because then they have to do something within so many days or they breach ombusman rules.

  2. Juddie Says:
  3. What a joy. I'm sure you have nothing better to do with your time really ....