Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Putting the YOU in 'queue'

With all the money that banks make, I would have thought that their profit margin would allow them to invest in technology that actually works. But – silly me – that would effect the bonuses that have made so many people redundant.

No, I’m not talking about the carousel that is the automated telephone line that banks love so much, or even the ATMs that give you a receipt not for your own account but for the person who used it before you. Great security.

The particular contraption with which I take umbrage is the paying-in machine. The bank that I use (apparently the world’s second or third largest – staff have informed me of this fact several times, but I tend to glaze over every time) moved locations not long ago, from a small site on a busy high street to a larger site across the road. It should have been a good thing: more space, more tellers, more assistance! Could it be? An efficient bank?

No such luck.

In fact, what they did was reduce the number of teller windows to two (remember: busy high street) and loaded the place with machines. Now, this particular bank used to have paying-in machines that worked perfectly – cash and cheques in an envelope and pop it in the machine – but these were obviously too simple and they got rid of them. The new machines have the ability to sort the deposits, though, and don’t require any staff to empty them so I suspect that has something to do with it.

I have to confess, I wouldn’t actually mind them if they worked once in a while, but what is the point of filling a bank with machines and then covering them with ‘out of order’ signs? The ones that do work still don’t work properly: woe betide anyone who tries to deposit any notes that have wrinkles, dog-ears, creases, writing or anything else the machine doesn’t like. The machine has class: “Dahhhling, if it’s not pristine, I don’t want it.”

Besides that, you can’t deposit cash and cheques in the same machine – how foolish of me to think I could. Waiting in one queue before waiting in another is my favourite pastime.

The member of staff standing by the door like a greeter, looking important and efficient with the addition of a clipboard, is never any help. Question: “Why are your machines always broken?” Answer: “They are due to be repaired soon.” Not only is that not what I asked, but it means nothing when I am standing there wanting to deposit my money. You would have thought that they would be eager to take my cash so they could get back to playing on the stock market.

When the inevitable queue does build up at the two windows behind which actual humans sit, Clipboard actually tries to encourage those waiting to use the machines: “Roll up, roll up! See the wonders of another queue. Wait your turn to see the amazing sight of a fortune teller – let it tell you whether your notes have ever been folded.”

I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want to be standing at a machine with a wad of notes in my hand while it whirrs and clicks as it considers assisting me.

If it was a one-time occurrence, it wouldn’t be so bad, but the fact that it happens all the time makes it even more galling that the very same bank sees fit to call and email me to offer me some sort of premier account. (“All for the low, low price of £12.95 a month!”).

What’s premier about it? Are they going to ensure that their machines work? Are they going to make sure my calls to them get answered by a real-life person? Of course not. All the same inconvenience with some useless stuff thrown in that I’ll never use.

Hmm, yeah, I’ll pass. Thanks anyway. Read more by Shermaine.