Why I won't be paying rent
July 13, 2002

RANT #120: Consumer
Snowmit
 
Summary: He's a rogue cop on a mission, they're Canada's largest financial institution.
 
Full Text:

 
Dear The Royal Bank,

Because I am a regular participant in consumer culture, I have had a lot of experience -- much of it bad --  with the service industry. Therefore, it is not lightly that I attach the following epithet to your cheque ordering process: WORST SYSTEM, EVER. Seriously. I'm a patient guy and I'll put up with a lot. But you crossed a line. And then another line. Oooooo.

I'm very mad.

It begins with me running out of cheques. A common problem, one would think. The bank gives you a bunch of cheques, you write on them and give them to people, eventually you run out. In fact, you could say that running out of them is built into the very idea of cheques. If there is a Platonic Form of cheque I'm certain that somewhere in there is the Idea "runs out of".

So I went down to the local branch and stood in line at the Information Desk. After a few minutes, I had the following conversation.

Me: "Hi, I'd like to order some cheques."

Her: "Oh, you need to go stand in that line over there and they can help you."

So far, so good. A simple request, a simple solution. Stand in the line, they'll give me cheques. Ecstasy. Another financial solution to meet my needs. After standing in the second line for awhile, I met another teller. She escorted me into a little private cubicle ("oh goody, personalized sit-down service," I thought) where we had the following conversation.

Me: "Hi, I'd like to order some cheques."

Her: "Ah yes, just call this number and they'll let you order some."

I'm young and I have much to learn. But it seems to me that what I had just been given was not service but information. Why did I have to wait in line for this, The Royal Bank? Why was the Information Desk unable to provide me with this snippet of knowledge? Is it secret? Are only certain high-ranking employees (the tellers who have cubicles) given access?

Having said all of that, I confess that I am a wimp. I trust your bankish judgement. I fear that you'll take my life savings away. If you tell me that I must call a number, I will call. I called.

Her: "Customer service."

Me: "Hi, I'd like to order some cheques."

Her: "Is your address still ######?"

Me: "No, I moved."

Her: "OK, you need to call this number and they'll place the order for you."

Before I go on, I just want to say that I am a firm supporter of any measure designed for my protection. Call me Captain Security. I like to know that my bank is watching out for me. I feel safe. Secure. Warm. Fuzzy. On the other hand, I can't imagine what possible security benefits one could get from keeping my address change secret from the people who are supposed to mail me my new cheques. I know that you know my new address. You send me my monthly VISA bill and my account statements. Not to mention your stunningly valuable insights into why now is the perfect time for me to get a mortgage. Still, I called the number that I was given. Here is what happened.

Her: "Customer service."

Me: "Hi, I'd like to order some cheques."

Her: "Thank you for using our automated verification system, how can I help you?"

Me: "Uh, I'd like to order some cheques."

Her: "Oh, you need to call this number."

Me: "I did, they told me to call you."

Her: "Oh, well if you go in to your bank, you can order some."

Me: "The bank told me to call the people who told me to call you."

Her: "Oh, OK. Let me transfer to someone who can help you."

[hold music]
[hold music]
[hold music]

Her: "Customer service."

Me: "Hi, I'd like to order some cheques."

Her: "Is your address still ######?"

Me: "No, I moved."

Her: "OK, you need to call this number and they'll place the order for you."

Me: "I did, they transferred me to you."

Her: "Uh, but they're the ones who are supposed to change your address. I can't do that for you."

Me: "Let me tell you how I got here and maybe you can help me..."

Her: "Wow, that's a crazy story."

Me: "I know."

Her: "At least you're laughing."

Me: "I guess what I'll do is go to the bank and see what they can tell me."

Her: "Yes, they will be able to order cheques for you."

She was right, The Royal Bank, I was laughing. But this was not the laughter of mirth. This was the laughter of a man on the edge. The laughter of a rogue cop who's seen just one scumbag too many get off on a technicality.

Chief: "You can't do that, Snowmit! What about his rights?"

Me: "What about the rights of that little girl?"

So I went back to the bank.

Me: "Hi, I'd like to order some cheques."

Her: "Didn't you come here to order cheques a few days ago?"

Me: "Yes I did but you told me to go to a lady who gave me a phone number that connected me to a lady who told me to call another number that connected me to a lady that transferred me to a lady who told me to come here."

Her: "You know, you can order cheques online."

Me: "I'd prefer to order them right now, if I could."

She was very nice. She filled out a form. We looked through the many different styles and I picked one out. We talked, we laughed. In short, we fell in love and she placed my order.

That was nearly a month ago.

Guess what? THE CHEQUES HAVE NOT ARRIVED. You lied to me, The Royal Bank. You played with my affections. You jerked me around. You strung me along and then YOU BROKE MY HEART. This is the end. It's court in the streets. I will find you and destroy you.

I will hunt you down and drag you kicking and screaming to the edge of the pier. There, I will force you to look at the broken bodies of every one of your victims.

"LOOK AT WHAT YOU'VE DONE," I'll say.

"YOUR REIGN OF TERROR ENDS HERE," I'll say.

And then, I'll explain the value of good customer service. With a baseball bat.

I never want to see you again, The Royal Bank. I'm done. This relationship just isn't working out. We've grown apart as people and I think we've allowed ourselves to get locked into certain unhealthy patterns. Don't cry, it's for the best. I'm sure that we can still be friends but I need some time apart.

I'll call you on Monday.
 


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