Went into my local Santander branch today.
I went briefly overdrawn just after Christmas and they wanted to charge me £25.
This happens every couple of years, and I usually go into the branch and ask for the charges to be refunded.
You might say why ?, it was your fault, and you owe them the money !.
You’d be quite right, and that’s the trick.
Typically, bank staff will be trained in assertiveness and and in all feasible arguments you might make to get your money back (this bank made £100,000,000 last year… being overdrawn didnt cost you £25 in admin… you people in your uniforms think your better than me… the list goes on).
No, the one thing their not usually ready for, is if you say, I have incurred charges of £25, which is entirely my fault and I fully accept responsibility. I normally run my account in good I order and I just wondered as a one of, if there was anything that you could do to help me.
I’ve done that 4 times in the last 9 years and its always worked.
Its not a scam, or in any way dishonest, as genuinly, you are asking for help.
Today, I went into the branch.
I was kept waiting while the lady behind the counter counted money. After several minutes, I was summoned to the counter, and walked over.
I introduced myself and politely said all of the above.
The reply surprised me. Are you sure you’ve incurred charges ?. Yes I replied, it says so on your website.
When was this and for how much ?. I don’t have all the details with me, perhaps you could look them up on the bank’s system for me.
15 minutes later after endless faffing (if it hadn’t been for the banks security, I would have walked around behind the desk and showed her how to do it), the next chapter of this tail of woe unfolds.
She concludes that she cant find the screen, therefore I don’t owe them any money.
I ask, is that definite (if it isn’t, everything up to this point, is about as relevant and useful as the moons position over the earth at that exact moment !). She says she isn’t sure, but is probably right. Fantastic.
Pressed on the matter, she says that she doesn’t really know how the computer system works, so cant confirm or deny (she’s obviously seen a politician in a press conference and remembered that phrase).
She suggests I go back to work, find the charges page, then print it out and come back to the bank (and off course the snow outside is no inconvenience whatsoever).
Determined to avoid trouble I smile politely, thank her for her help, as, frustrated and iritated, I walk back to work in the freezing cold.
Halfway back, it hits me.
If she was any good at her job, the bank would now probably be £25 worse off. Instead, they’ve kept hold of the money due to her incompetence/stupidity.
Reminded me of a sketch I saw on tv a few years ago. On a series called Jam, they featured a consultancy which rented out thick people for special jobs. You can watch it, and see what I mean bellow.