It is always nice to get a prompt result. And so it was this week, as I (politely) took up the cudgels on behalf of an individual who had suffered some raw treatment at the hands of the co-op bank.
How so? Well, after some initial difficulties with her online security, she rang to sort matters out over the phone. She answered all the security questions, correctly and then…there was a pause.
Followed by the call centre equivalent of a gulp. and a “sorry, who am I talking to?”, followed in quick succession by another pause, non-scripted questions and a query as to whether this individual was the account holder.
The upshot – because after waiting on the phone for the best part of 10 minutes without any further comment our heroine hung up – was that when she rang back again, she found a block had been placed on chunks of her account. Fraud Department, apparently.
Initially, the only way the Co-op would allow her to get her account fully running again was that she would need to turn up at her nearest branch with valid ID, including passport, driving licence, proof of address, etc. Yeah, right: as easy to open a new account!
All ended well, as the Fraud Department dropped their customary non-communicativeness, spoke directly and…put matters right on the phone. Still, the whole episode was time-consuming, frustrating and, had the individual been overseas, would have been highly inconvenient.
So I chased the Co-op. They listened to some recording of the conversation and…within 24 hours they responded. A load of the usual corporate gobbledygook, but.. also embedded in there, an admission that “In this instance, after listening to the call recording, we have established that whilst the correct process was followed in asking further security questions, the adviser erred too much on the side of caution. As a result the staff member involved will now undergo further customer authentication retraining.”
(I do love that phrase, embodying, as it does, the image of aforementioned staff member being locked in a darkened room and beaten with a dry kipper until they learn to be nicer to trans folk!)
They continue: “The Co-operative Bank prides itself on the service that it provides to its customers and in this case we would like to apologise to the customer involved for the distress and inconvenience that has been caused. We will contact her directly to explain our position and offer our apologies.”
(which ought, i hope, to include something tangible in either the floral or chocolatey category!)
All good stuff and I am really pleased it worked out so well, so quickly.
Bringing the bankers to book
Still, it seems to me, this is yet more reason for having something along the ines of Trans Finance Watch to call upon. For all the pessimism about media, I think there is a measurable change in the way trans issues have been reported over the last couple of years.
That didn’t happen by accident. It took effort and complaint and a gradual realization by the press that every time they got it wrong, there was a good chance someone would be along shortly to put the boot in.
The problem with financial institutions (apart from being a tad smug and unwilling to listen, is that not only are many of their procedures discriminatory, but…they don’t actually achieve the end they supposedly set out to achieve. Particularly when it comes to their gilded idol of “security”.
Cases like these are particularly important, not only because they represent discomfort to the individual, but also because they represent a double standard. Much of the time, the attitude by finance bods is “comply with our processes or die!” Or at least, you don’t get an account.
So when they then break their own process – when someone answers all their “security” questions appropriately – and they still add a super secret extra condition, that is wrong.
It must always be resisted.