Bank Jobs

I just got off the phone to the Revenue. Normally I fear phoning any service about anything, in anticipation of the fact that I will end up tearing clumps of hair out in frustration that the person will neither want nor be able to understand my rather simple requirement, but the person I spoke to was very helpful and very articulate. I explained my problem, and he gave me the solution. No fuss, no scripts, no bullshit. If all public services were as efficient and as easy to deal with as that, life here would be so much easier. In fairness, a lot of them work really well: the passport service is another example.

On the other hand, I spoke to the bank about making a lump sum payment against the mortgage. This was the third interaction I’d had with them.

First time I called, they said, yes, no problem, all you have to do is go into your branch with a cheque and a letter, and they’ll make the arrangements. So I prepare the letter, get the cheque drafted, and I go along to the branch, taking time out of work to do so.

The man in the branch says: have you filled out the form? And I say, what? He says: you should have filled out a form. But I’ve got a letter. No, you need a form. Well your colleague told me to come in here with a letter. Well, I’m sorry, but he shouldn’t have told you to do that. Says I, so what do I do now? Says he, fill out this form. So I start filling out the form, and I realise it needs my wife’s signature.

I go back to the house, get the form filled in, and set this afternoon aside to go back to the bank. Am about to go back to the bank when I look at the form and I think: is this the right form? I ring the bank, and say, listen, etc. etc, do I have the right form? Woman says: no, you don’t need the form for that type of mortgage. You can just post the letter. You sure? Yes.

I don’t think it’s a straw man to say that many people think private is automatically more efficient than public because of competition and the incentive to make a profit. They are deluded. Lots of the time, when it comes to privately provided services, the cost of acquiring the service is far higher than the price you actually pay for it. Endless phone calls, interrupted plans, frustration, haranguing, and so on, not to mention the time wasted trying to figure out which service provider is the most effective by making all manner of complex calculations in relation to their prices. This applies to banks, phone companies, broadband, furniture orders, online shopping, health insurance and lots of other stuff. They devote their resources to persuading you to purchase the service in the first instance, but once you do, you’re just another sucker.

But it’s Friday.

Suck You Dry by Mudhoney

and Too Many Mutha uckas by Flight of the Conchords

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2 Responses to “Bank Jobs”


  1. 1 Longman Oz July 11, 2008 at 6:04 pm

    This is precisely why we need to take the human factor out of capitalism. Its unreliability can be rather bothersome.

  2. 2 Hugh Green July 11, 2008 at 9:50 pm

    Precisely, I think capitalism would be best served by getting rid of consumers altogether.


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