Today was a little disheartening but it was also strengthening.
Before my holiday I gave in to the repeated phone calls and agreed to go and speak to my bank/building society about a better way of paying off my debt. The nice lady on the telephone,not foreign sounding or automated, had said she had seen I was paying a lot and that perhaps they could make my payments into a regular, non varying amount and a smaller, more manageable payment. I have long grown weary of these sort of calls but I was all bound up in pre holiday generosity and agreed, if they would kindly send a letter of confirmation to remind me when I returned from my sojourn.
The week of banging my head on low beams and sleeping on a bed which seemed to have been hewn from the local red stone soon passed and I found myself staring daily at the mantle piece and no letter arrived. Friday, the day of the appointment arrived and we turned up somewhat reluctantly considering our misgivings. My wise wife, who deals with financial matters due to being home during banking hours for most of the time,warned me that they would only be trying to make us take out a loan. I gave them the slight benefit of the doubt and decided to let them try. We duly arrived, informed the receptionist that we weren’t sure if we had an appointment because we hadn’t received our letter but he dismissed this without comment and we waited to be met by our advisor.
He took us upstairs to an office where I started to feel edgy. His first words were ” I see you’ve booked to see us about taking out a loan..”
” No, you called us to invite us to discuss a way of lowering our payments.”
Then a knowing ” Ah yes..”
He then pulled up my details on screen and started to explain how he could only access limited information because they ( the local branch) hadn’t any access to card accounts. That is a separate company apparently, despite having the same name ,logo and advertising together, sharing telephone numbers and call centres. He asked my wife how much we paid each month and she said we pay more than the requested amount to try to lower the debt. I then had to stop him.
“Hang on a moment. You have said you are not able to discuss or access how much I am presently paying?”
” And you therefore can’t lower those payments directly, because you don’t know what those payments are?”
“So,you know how much in total I owe and just want to sell me a loan then?”
That’s when I grabbed my belongings and told him he had just wasted my afternoon and we were leaving.
Wife gave me the usual ‘don’t embarrass me again’ look and I stormed down stairs loudly informing the poor young acne ridden youth that he was only interested in selling another financial package, not helping a customer to improve payments.
Why do these companies still insist on trying to squeeze more and more of our money out of our grubby little hands instead of getting their houses in order?
Why do they have the right to access our personal financial records yet can protect themselves by claiming to be independent businesses?
I have paid for telephone preference filtering for a number of years, to keep the telephone scammers at bay. It works very well with the exception of these financial institutes. I asked one caller how they came by my previously protected number and was informed that, as a customer of a certain (other) bank, I had given them the right to share my details with other companies
Those other companies that claim to have no access to my details when I try and utilise them.
The banks may have been found morally bankrupt and at the root of our global breakdown but they are by no means changing the way they operate or how much they take.
Until they change, the climb back to security and some sense of prosperity will never come.
I have learnt that, when you suspect a financial business is trying to help you,be warned: They do nothing without a keen eye on their own profit.
If someone offers you a free lunch, remember to sit on your wallet!