It is a December day. Four days after my birthday and six days after I have been rewarded with my monthly salary. I am happy. So much so I changed my Twitter ID to Lady Luck, ahaha. That’s hindsight. And that’s ironic. Anyway. Back to the account at hand… minding my own business on the bitterly cold high street, I am returning to the office during my lunch break, trying to snuggle into my jacket though to be honest, it’s not working. I shove my hands into my pockets and come across a few pound coins that trigger my memory: I owe work for expenses. My feet take me to the cash point before I forget again for the third day in a row.
I reach into my bag for my purple leopard print lined wallet and carefully open it up (it’s like a book), and where my blue silver piece of flat moulded plastic should be, is a very empty space. Hmm my inner voice says. I casually check the other compartments – even the clasped pouch containing odds, ends and shrapnel. Nothing. My debit card has ceased to exist. My confusion continues… I have not made any card transactions since yesterday so it is unlikely to be at home on the arm of my sofa – which by the way is the only security I have since I don’t have the arms of a man – it’s the chosen resting place for my card if I’m surfing and purchasing on the wonderful wide web in the evenings (obviously not the spider kind though at times I do wonder).
I don’t have any other pockets to check and I am in two minds to the point of conversing with myself as to whether I should report the card missing (it could potentially be at home somewhere). However, Better to be safe than sorry is the mantra I was brought up with so I think to put it to use for the first time in my life. I skidaddle to the bank, present myself, exchange pleasantries, answer all the security questions correctly (of course) which is simple and painless as I’ve been banking at this branch for three years. I explain the situation and with immediate effect, a ‘stop’ is placed on the card and a new lease of financial spending will be winged to me within about seven days which is absolutely fine.
Can I withdraw some cash now? I’m hoping Lady Cashier will say Yes since they know who I am…
Have you any ID with you such as a driver’s licence or passport?
I’m afraid you’ll need to return with your ID.
Thinking all these processes are in place for a reason, I thus abide by these retail banking procedures, it is for my own benefit and safety of course. I think nothing further of the situation since the bank has drawn me into its protective bubble-wrapped security film.
Can I check the last transaction on my account? Ah yes, that’s fine. Nothing untoward has occurred. What’s my balance please?
Oh, less than I thought but never mind, thank you! I’ll be back tomorrow…
The next day, twelve hours later to be precise and in a revolving time frame I place myself back on the high street and direct my brain back to the bank.
Hi, I’ve got my passport with me today, can I withdraw £200.00 please?
Since I’m waiting for my card, this is a decent sum since I’ve got to catch the train etc. to the Christmas party tonight in London.
Your available balance is £82.00.
I’m sorry, £82.00? How is that possible?
Let me see, you withdrew £500.00 on the 6th?
Um, no. No, I didn’t.
Yes, last week you withdrew £500.00.
No, I didn’t withdraw any money last week. Are you sure last week? The 6th was yesterday…
For the first time in my life and by some miracle, I know today’s date.
I am sorry, yes the 6th.
So £500 yesterday? I couldn’t have done that I reported my card lost yesterday.
<Lady Cashier frantically tries to find out as much information as possible and taps away furiously at her keyboard>
Can you tell me the exact time the transaction occurred? I’d’ve remembered taking out that amount of cash and I wouldn’t be here now if I had. I don’t understand, so was that from the cashpoint or inside the branch since I can only take £300 at the machine?
It was withdrawn at Aylesbury branch.
Sorry, actually over the counter? Someone counted out and gave someone £500 of my money to someone who wasn’t me?
This seemed ridiculously incredulous to me, how can this amount of money be let through without any other form of ID, how did they pass through the security questions? Did this person claim amnesia to the Aylesbury cashier?
Let me have a colleague speak to you, clearly you didn’t withdraw this money. We’ll put you through to the Fraud Team and they will investigate and sort this out for you.
I sit down and call the special hotline number from the branch landline, the automated voice repeats like a broken record for at least five minutes. I’m meant to leave the office in half an hour, I have a lift with one of the girls. I still have two more projects to kick-off with the team and on top of everything, I need to make myself over for tonight’s Christmas party – which let me tell you, is no easy feat. The robot woman in my ear is hurting my cochlea, it is a blessing I am sitting down otherwise I might just fall about the place like a wobbling tower of jelly. The gentleman I am with then uses an internal number as this might be quicker, it works (WOOHOO!) – although now I am through to the call centre, and the call centre is in the queue to speak with the Fraud Team instead.
After taking all my details and satisfied I didn’t plan the whole scenario myself, I’m advised as it’s Friday, it will be Tuesday before I hear anything back. Usually, the time frame is 48 hours but due to the weekend blah-blah-blah. I do not fight this either, I am trying to remain coherent and pleasant so I do not ruin my party preparation atmosphere and to be fair, up until this point everyone in MY branch has been really helpful. My lift tells me she’s had to leave the office so I need to get the bus <internal groan> but still, I am dealing with keeping a lid on my emotions and thoughts.
It appears the stop on the card has been over-ridden, I apologise. I’m unsure how or why this has taken place.
I have to repeat this out loud to try and make some sense out of the words I have just heard considering I was debating whether or not to cancel the card in the first place. What was the point in me putting the stop on the card?!
The stop was o-v-e-r-r-i-d-d-e-n?! At what time was the money withdrawn as this detail wasn’t available earlier?
The stop was placed on the card at 13:19, the withdrawal took place at 13:49.
W.H.A.A.A.A.A.A.A.A.A.A.A.A.A.A.A.A.T T.H.E. F.U.U.U.U.U.U.U.U.U.U.U.U.U.U.U.U.C.K?!
…reverberates around my head like a Duracell bunny on acid doing somersaulting backflips in my head.
We’ll need to speak to the branch and investigate this for you, this is a clear-cut fraudulent event, we’ll be in touch with you on Tuesday. Is there anything else I can help with?
I’m still being socially acceptable at this point, perhaps it is shock…at the same time causing a scene would be futile… mentally I am writing the complaints letter and branding each detail into my failing long term memory. In the meantime, a snooty female has entered the branch for her two-pm appointment with the manager who has been with me for the last hour. As my call is coming to an end, I say “You can see to her, I’ll be fine…” as clearly she is unimpressed her meeting might be delayed by at least thirty seconds – she even heard me say it’s ok for him to leave yet she outwardly and loudly describes her disgust at having practically used her broomstick at a hundred miles an hour to reach the appointment on time. I want to shout to her at the top of my lungs: I have just had five whole hundred pounds stolen from my account and this dude has been super helpful so shut the hell up and sit down you stupid, idiotic unempathetic woman – but I refrain.
Can you connect me back to the call centre please? The lady I spoke to previously advised she may be able to organise a temporary overdraft whilst investigations are taking place.
Hi, my name is Matthew I’m the supervisor here, can I help?
Yes, I’d like to organise an overdraft please…
Can you give me a value?
Er, I don’t know…£350?
That’s not possible. Can you provide another value please?
Can you tell me the minimum I’m allowed to have, that would be easier…
I’m unable to do that, can you give me another value?
But I don’t know when the money will be returned or if any debits are coming out over the next week, can you not just provide the minimum I’m ‘allowed’? Can you check if any debits are coming out over the next week?
No, I don’t have access to those details and I’m not able to give you any other information, can you give me another figure?
To recap just in case you’d forgottten, I’ve been on the telephone for an entire hour trying to figure out exactly which incompetencies have taken place. I won’t have any (of my own) money until god knows when, I’ve missed my lift, I don’t have any more time to complete any further work so now I’m behind and will need to work the weekend, I need to use public transport and I’ve hardly any cash for the Christmas party this evening… all because of the dumbass cashier at Aylesbury branch over-riding the cancelled card because it appeared in some lying girls hand. I have wasted this time, and sort out the palava the bank has caused. Apologies, building society – building a society by thieving my godam money. I don’t even like money and now I’m fighting to get some – my own. I can’t even say I hope the cashier is sacked since I understand the importance of being employed – so after everything, why do I still have such a stupidly soft mind?
In a perturbed voice;
Is this bingo? You’ve just given away £500.00 of MY money for no reason and you can’t give me the minimum value of the permitted overdraft on MY account, which is blatantly on your screen. I have no idea when the money will be returned to me and you are not helping the situation by asking me to pick figures from thin air. Forget it, I don’t want your overdraft, thanks for nothing.
And quite unprofessionally, I hang up.