Patrick Leigh-Pemberton: Banking Woes
I have left my wallet at home. This means that for the past couple of weeks, I have been living life in a very interesting way. I have had no […]
I have left my wallet at home. This means that for the past couple of weeks, I have been living life in a very interesting way. I have had no debit card with me. I have had to pay for everything in cash. It has been a very disturbing process. However, I have been able to control my expenditure in a much more managed and reasonable way, which has made me feel very mature and responsible. Actually, it’s nice.
The only fly in this ointment is that Lloyds TSB, who have the privilege of holding my overdraft, have recently gone “slipless”. This may not make much sense to those of you who never lose trivial things like wallets, but for someone like me, who loses it monthly, it has been an absolute disaster.
There was a time when I, or any other reasonable member of society, could go into my local branch of Lloyds, take out a little slip, scribble the secret numbers on it, and come out with some hard cash in my pocket. A very reasonable transaction, you might think. Who could be more sensible than the people whose job it is to hand your money over to you on request?
Unfortunately, the management at Lloyds don’t see it this way anymore. If you do not have a debit card or a chequebook with you at the time of the request you can only take out fifty pounds a day. This is fine, and in fact, far more than I normally need, as bread and olive oil is my usual diet, but on this particular occasion I needed to fill my car up with petrol.
So with this new system, I had to go to the bank two days in a row and go through this whole rigmarole. Not once, but twice. I am not an exceedingly busy person, but even to me, this seems a little ridiculous. I have been in there every day this week to make a withdrawal of one amount or the other (they really do not appreciate being bothered for £1.60 for a bacon butty), and yet I still can’t access what is mine, because I do not have their little bit of branded plastic on my person.
The little bit of branded plastic, might I point out, which encourages me to spend more (well, not necessarily encourages, but definitely permits, spending). The absence of the debit card is better for both their books and mine. So, why do I need it? Why can’t the bank let me survive on little bits of paper and traditional practices? What is so wrong with fighting with their ridiculous ballpoint pens?
I can see the environmental benefits of not using paper, but when I have proved who I am, why must they limit what I can achieve? This is a fundamental failing in the way the bank approaches their service and their customers. I don’t like it.