Irrational Encounters With The Modern World

RBS

Feeding Back And Being Fed.

My time on the Work Programme has come to an end, after two fruitless years.

I was part of the first wave of people to be referred to them, and so am among the first to leave. My time there has not instilled in me any desire to praise them, instead leaving me even more cynical than I was to begin with. I am left, too, in precisely the same situation that I was in when i began attending fortnightly mandatory meetings. You can find several past blogs about my time there, listed at the bottom of the home page..

As part of my final appointment, I was told that I may be asked to provide some feedback. When the email arrived, requesting to know my opinion of the Work Programme, I was happy to reply in full, not least because the email addressed me as a “customer”, suggesting there was some element of choice in my obligatory attendance there.

I have not yet decided whether to make the full thirteen pages that I wrote available publicly. However, each section ended with a summation, and I wrote an overall conclusion, reproduced below:

“To conclude, this has been the feedback you requested. It details, or addresses, every complaint that springs to mind when I think back over the past 730 days during which we have been acquainted. Two full years of empty promises, false hope, incompetence, ignorance, and downright inconvenience. I leave in exactly the same position as I started, only more bitter and jaded. You have achieved absolutely nothing, in my interest at least. You have wasted your money, you have wasted our time, and, since that first day when my future advisor walked into the pillar, nobody has even had the good grace to make me laugh.

I doubt that you will reply to any of this – for a start, it is going to take somebody an afternoon just to read it all. There is nothing you can really say anyway, save for a stock response about ‘taking my feedback on board.’ If all you have is a stock response, please do not send me it.

Oh, your questionnaire asked, if I recall correctly, how likely I am to recommend the Work Programme to others. Not at all likely.

Not at all.”

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that, despite my suspicions, there was no character limit on the website form that I was directed to use to submit my comments. I copied in all thirteen pages of scathing, witty, but wholly negative documentation, and figured that would be the last I would hear. I am not interested in receiving stock responses, as I made clear above and as sadly ignored previously by RBS and the Co-Op, to name two.

Of all the outcomes that I anticipated, I did not foresee the phone call that I received less than forty-eight hours later. Their head of employability telephoned, inviting me to meet with her and expressing admiration for my writing and gratitude that I had taken the time to reply so thoroughly. She wants to talk through my experiences in order to improve the service that they provide all the other poor suckers following in my footsteps, which sounds like “taking my feedback on board” – but at least it was not a stock response. Unless they have some kind of written-word-based vacancy, it is unlikely to benefit me particularly, beyond having my lunch bought for me somewhere local. This was an unexpected development though, and who knows what may happen next?

That said, presuming it is on their expense account, let’s hope the place sells steak and champagne. I might as well enjoy it for what it is, given they are probably unwilling me to pay me a consultant’s fee.



Don’t Bank On It Being Efficient.

I had a letter in the mail today, from my bank. They’ve written to me to alert me to the fact that they are going to send me statements less often, in a bid to save paper. Even though they wrote that on paper and posted it.

It arrived next to a statement showing just how much interest I have paid on my overdraft this year. If they were really determined to be greener, they could have put both of those letters in the same envelope. Hell, I have online banking and they know my email address, so really they had no need to print anything off.

It is still stupid, though, to me at least, that we are kidding on that it is somehow better for the environment to print less – is anyone taking into account the amount of power and energy required to make, run, and maintain computer systems, servers, and the entire internet? Is printing less really the answer? I doubt it.

Still, we are so irrevocably fucked as a race, as this juggernaut hurtles towards the edge of the cliff, that it’s hard to hold any hope of us recovering. We are living an unsustainable existence – my bank wants to generate less paperwork, but their cash machines are running off the mains all day every day and their billboard adverts remain lit overnight.

And the stupidest thing of all is that, when I was last online, I changed the settings in my account and switched to paperless statements anyway. So they have written to me to let me know that they won’t send me something I’ve asked them to stop sending anyway.


Letter To RBS, 2010

I was charged for having insufficient funds by RBS, and also for missing the payment by RBS Visa. This seemed like racketeering to me, given that it was established that money was due in my account the following day, and they change the payment date monthly. My first two letters elicited copied-and-pasted responses, appended with a photocopied signature of someone too high up to read correspondence.

By the time I wrote this third letter, I had completely given up all hope of getting any kind of personal response from the “customer care team” at RBS, and – seizing on the name of the person who’d sent me the latest copied-and-pasted reply – sent this letter back. I knew I wouldn’t get anywhere with them, which is why I put the swear-word in – past the point of caring. Having worked in Customer Service myself for a number of years, I know that as soon as the customer swears the argument is lost. I never swear when making a formal complaint, certainly not in the first instance. This one was in the context of a relevant quote though, and it was already clear that no appropriate reply would be forthcoming. I wrote this more in the hope that it would be passed round the office for entertainment, rather than acted upon.

They did reply, and said they wouldn’t enter into any further correspondence on account of my coarse language. That was copied and pasted too, so I can only presume that they get that quite a lot…

I consider this matter closed, and only post this letter here for your entertainment. Names and addresses have been removed, the rest is exactly as sent.

16th March 2010

RB Scare Team [Address Redacted, mis-spacing deliberate]

Dear Mr [Namesake of Famous Actor, Redacted]

Re: Your letter regarding my complaint, new reference [redacted]

I presume you are not the actor, although since your namesake once wrote a sitcom, it’s hard to be certain – your letter is a joke. It was good of you to take the time to copy and paste so many paragraphs, most of which were irrelevant to my previous letters. I did enjoy the irony of you apologising “if I feel some of the points raised in my letter were not dealt with, or responded to, correctly” in a letter that also failed to deal with or respond to my points raised. And OF COURSE the ‘bank considers its charges to be fair’, despite the overwhelming public feeling that the opposite is true – if you stopped charging everyone you would have to forgo those hefty bonuses, right?

I appreciate that you refunded £38 to my account, it’s just a real shame it seemed like a transparent bid to appease me and get me to shut up. It remained in my account about a day before you took it back out in interest or something – I’ve lost track of what you actually call your theft these days, but at least if you hadn’t repaid it I would have been hit with further ridiculous charges, so thanks for that. I suppose in your line that counts as compassion or something. Now, you assure me ‘my comments were noted’, but your company has failed to respond to them, for the third time. You know, I was asked recently if I would like to book an appointment for my annual customer review – let me make it plain that, as soon as my debts are paid off, I will not be your customer ever again.

Many people, it seems, are concerned with their carbon footprint. I am worried about RBS’ oxygen footprint – it seems your staff are using far too much of this valuable resource, and I would like to ask you all to stop forthwith. Surely your managers are largely breathing through gills anyway, unevolved as they clearly are. If only they could train chimps to copy and paste then they could do away with your entire department and reward themselves the money thus ‘saved’ (rather than, you know, repay the taxpayer). Anyway, I digress.

I have no idea what’s going on with my account, your staff are busy giving me conflicting answers in what could well be a deliberate ruse to confuse – last week I checked I had enough money to cover two switch payments. Then I was told the next day that they WOULDN’T be covered. So I borrowed £20 to pay in, only for it to sit there a week. Today, when I enquired what was going on, and if I was or was not £20 up (to spend on luxuries like food –  mental, isn’t it? I’ve tried living on dust but it’s not so filling.) I was told that the £29 I thought was in my account has virtually gone in an interest payment. Quite fortunate that I left it there, isn’t it? You could, of course, do me the small courtesy of letting me know exactly when you plan to remove money from my account. If you include such information with my statement, then stop emailing it and instead post it to me again – I’ve explained before that I don’t have internet access. Or a TV licence, or anything else that so many people are able to take for granted.

Anyway, since you are clearly destined to ignore my questions and points for all eternity, I may as well just quote Al Pacino in the movie ‘Dog Day Afternoon’ and say: kiss me. I like to be kissed when I’m being fucked.

Please, I implore you, also remember to use a condom – you are shafting so many people so royally (ah, that must be where the R in RBS comes from), I’m worried that you will infect me the same way your entire infrastructure is infected. You are a disease, your bosses are the cancer of society, and I look forward to reading what you are able to cut and paste in response to this. In the meantime it seems I, like so many others, have little choice but to bend over and take it.

Yours facetiously,

[Me]

PS: Don’t forget to grow a spine.

PPS: I realise you are probably just the minion to whom my case has been assigned, don’t take my comments personally. I did address two letters to the [Name Redacted] who photocopies her signature on all correspondence, but she’s clearly high enough up the food chain that she doesn’t have to take criticism. If you happen to know her, please inform her that evolution is a wonderful thing and she should try it sometime, instead of being thoroughly impersonal while pretending exactly the opposite.

PPPS: I have deliberately taken the time to word my letters articulately and with humour, because so many others must just be sending you outright hatred and heartfelt swearing. I don’t deal in standard paragraphs or cutting and pasting – please afford me the same courtesy in your reply. Even if it ‘is not company policy’ – your company is morally corrupt anyway, and you are – I presume – a human with your own brain, which lets you formulate independent thoughts and opinions. Just saying.

 

Again, I consider this matter closed, and only post this letter here for your entertainment.