Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Nat West, Not Quite.

There aren't many people now I would suggest who don't have a bank account. One doesn't ask a lot from a bank, mainly because you'd be disappointed if you did, but one thing you would hope for would be accuracy when dealing with your money. I know banks handle billions of pounds a year and if I added up all my money from my whole life it would still be a drop in their ocean, but to me every pound is actually quite important.

For Linda, my ex, even more so. When you are homeless and living on basic benefits every penny is important, so when the bank appear to have shortchanged you by £50 it is a serious, and actually, quite a traumatic experience, that is after all about 66% of her weekly money.

Because she has been ill for a few weeks she has drawn her money from the Post Office where the government sends it, but not paid it into her bank account. So on Monday she had a few weeks money to pay in, plus one more fortnights worth to withdraw, add to it, then pay the total in. This she did adding some new £50 notes to the wad she already carried. What she meant to do was to hold back one £50 note and pay everything else in but as she sorted the money out she put all the notes in the envelope and didn't keep one for her purse. She went to the bank, just two doors away from the post office and paid all the money in.

Now, it didn't go smoothly from the beginning. Because Linda has to make sure all her records are accurate, party because she is an obsessive compulsive, and partly because she doesn't trust the Council and Benefit Agencies, she had a paying in slip for each fortnights money plus two sundry amounts. A total of 6 paying in slips. Leaving aside the matter of counting the money, the Cashier managed to mis-punch the figure for one slip and punched a separate one an extra time. Over and above this, she added all the slips up incorrectly at one point against the cash paid in but to a degree it all got sorted out whilst Linda was there, although she wasn't confident that things were right.

Linda then shot off to the supermarket and suddenly thought, "hang on, I don't remember putting the £50 note in my purse". And sure enough it wasn't there. So back to the bank she goes and says she thinks she gave them £50 too much, because purely by chance, something happened when the post office gave her the £50 notes she knew they were exactly right.

Now, this is where, as an ex-employee of the bank and also a customer who expects their bank to be accurate, it all starts to fall apart.

Linda tells them what she believes has happened. Cashier says Linda is wrong, fair enough, so Linda says could she check her till. The cashier says it will be checked and she will know because she is already carrying a £3.60 till difference. Now, to finish this bit quickly I can tell you nothing happened until we went back into the bank today to find out what they had discovered.

The meeting is Linda and myself, the Manager and the cashier involved.

Regarding the £50 they say they didn't have it but in fact as a gesture of goodwill, they are crediting her account as they know her. So Linda is not out of pocket. So that bit might be all well and good. The point I raised was how did they know they hadn't got it. I asked if they had discovered where the £3.60 till difference was. No, said they. So I point out that in that case they can't be sure whether they had the £50 or not. If the till is wrong, the till is wrong. (I should point out in my day, nobody left the branch at the end of the day until all the tills had balanced. To the penny. A till difference of £100+ that couldn't be found and the cashier was suspended). What the manager explained was that these days they don't bother if the amount involved is small. I asked what that amount was, and he said anything under £20.00. I ponted out, a till difference of £10 could be made up by shortchanging one customer £90 and overpaying another one £100. And believe me, I've known it to happen, even to the best of cashiers. Well if that should happen the bank wouldn't investigate because the balance is under £20. So basically, if a cashier makes a number of mistakes they won't bother checking it too much as long as the overall difference isn't too much.

By the end of the meeting, Linda was in tears and the cashier was in tears. The problem for both of them is that because of the bank's policy, both are left in the air not knowing whether either of them is right. the cashier still has an air of suspicion over her that she did her job wrong and Linda feels the bank think she is trying it on.

I have a feeling that if I go to pay in £100 tomorrow and jut give them £85.00, when they complain the money isn't right, they aren't going to accept my plea that it's only £15.00 out, it doesn't really matter. And how come a cashier can be wrong by £20.00 but you go 1 penny overdrawn and the bank will be in touch pdq. When a bank can be that lackadaisical about the basics of cashiering in a branch you can see how there might be an ethos in the organisation where nobody is keeping an eye on the money and your investment arm might be doing things they shouldn't.

Just in case the Head of Nat West Customer Services is reading this, you can expect my letter demanding an answer to how you can be so frivolous with the money entrusted to you by your customers. Remember, the only money your organisation has, comes from the likes of Linda, myself and other readers of this site. Without our money, you have no money to work with, no wages and no jobs.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Baroque & Roll

I like baroque music, both orchestral and choral. I can't think of a day or an occasion that couldn't be brightened by it being accompanied by Zadok The Priest. But there is one genre of Baroque music that I can't stand. And that's Baroque Opera. My God, it's dire. I saw my first Baroque opera about 9 years ago, Dido and Aeneas. It contains one of the most famous arias, the cheerful When I am Laid in Earth. See how long you can last before having to rip your ears off.

This weekend we went and saw our second, The Prophetess or The History of Dioclesian by Henry Purcell. Some of his choral work is sublime. This isn't. It was three hours of my life I'll never get back. We went because a friend was in it. People left at the interval. We couldn't unfortunately because she would have realised. We both lost the plot of the story a few minutes in. And we lost the will to live a short time after.

It takes a lot to find something musical that makes compositions by Stockhausen sound good, but this did it. The only thing worse than Baroque Opera is Chinese Opera which sounds like a cat being put through a mangle and it's innards being used as the musical instruments.

With luck and a following wind that might be the last I ever have to hear. Unfortunately there are a number of French composers of the same era and I might then have to suffer not only a Baroque Opera but in a language I don't understand. Then again, maybe that will be an improvement.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Loupia Life - The Blog

Sightly premature as we haven't moved yet, but then there are things I already want to write, this is the web address for the blog where I will write about our big adventure.

There won't be lots on there, three or four posts at the moment, until we move, although there will be a flurry in a couple of weeks time when we go out there for a week to start learning the ropes. Some of the stuff on there already, particularly the "about" page, probably contains much you have read on this blog.

There will be some other pages added, one on food and drink, another on local sights, maybe even a geocaching page if I have the time and inclination!

I shall continue to run this blog for some stuff that isn't France related and I will try to keep the two well apart. I'm not so worried about people coming from this site through to the other but from there to here, which is one reason for de-branding from Kennamatic and using the W host rather than Blogger. And nor will I put up a link in the side bar to the new site.

Anyway, feel free to saunter over at your will and I'll see you there, here or at both.

Sunday, March 01, 2015


Well there we go. I managed to miss the last day of the Blogathon which would be really annoying if I hadn't posted late for a couple of others and even the day before was clicked through at 11.59pm. But well done to Mr Jones, and Mr Masher.

The other thing missing today is a phone call from my father. This will be the second year it is missing. He could never remember how old I was and I'm not dead sure I'd have got a card on the right day if it hadn't been for the women in his life, but then I'm not overly good myself although mine is because I'm so unorganised, but every St David's Day he would ring. I would be wished a happy celebration, I would have an update on whether the daffodils were out in The Broads and for how long if they were. We would then struggle to think of any other conversation we might want to have and then that would be it for another year.

The last thing missing this morning is my breakfast and it's already gone 10 so I'm off to get it!