Charles Howden

November 13, 2006

Life’s too short?

Filed under: Customer Service — Charles @ 9:19 pm

At the end of May, when I moved on from my day to day, working world of general insurance, I ceased to trade through one of my business entities. I cancelled all direct debits and kept the account open so that I could bank odds and sods of receipts that I expected to receive, and settle some last minute bills. All easy stuff?

On my September payment, the previous quarter’s bank charges were £60 or so. A bit high I thought, for an account with about four transactions a month. “Oh that’s for your overdraft facility”, said my helpful bank manager once I had tracked him down. I have ceased trading, I don’t need a facility, I explained. “That’s OK, I’ll cancel it for you”. Perhaps I expect too much. When I briefed him in May, telling him how our account would operate from June onwards, I had expected him to arrange the changes on my account accordingly. I had expected that, in the belief that because he knows how his banking procedures and charging mechanisms work, he would arrange things to my new requirements. Not so.

Also on our September statement was a direct debit for £260.78 from a company called the PHS Group plc. When I called them to ask what they were taking our money for, they apologised for their mistake. My partnership had not ordered any services from them this side of May ‘06 and they had used a cancelled direct debit mandate to take their payment from our bank account. Life is short, too short to invest time in trying to make sense of these things so I settled for a promise that the amount would be promptly refunded.

Except of course, you’ve guessed it, it wasn’t. Three weeks later, and despite three more calls, promises of refunds, promises of anything I’ve asked for, nothing has happened. I was told this morning, that “everything has been agreed, it’s now with customer services”. I would rather it was with their accounts department, actually I would rather it was in my bank account and I would rather have not spent two hours or so through the last three weeks trying to get the matter resolved.

The best the account handler could come up with today was “to be quite honest” (like she wasn’t being honest before?) “you’d do better to speak to your bank”. So I have to ask my bank to give me their money, so that this company can hang onto our money for even longer. At which point I asked for the account handler’s line manager. I was given a name, told that the person was in a meeting (naturally) and was assured that she’d call me back, except of course, you’ve guessed it, she hasn’t.

Maybe life isn’t too short. I’ll keep you posted…


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