WARD’S WORLD: By John Ward
Shuffling in line to pay a bill in my bank recently, and staring at the posters on the walls informing us mere (minor) cogs in the great machine of finance that there are some wonderful deals etc to be had by investing in assorted schemes as I was mentally working out what point seven per cent is on a fiver if invested with them.
While I was handing over the folding stuff and entering into time killing banter with no real purpose or response wanted or expected, the rubber stamping one looked up and suggested that it would/might be “better if I banked on line” as – quote: “This is the way it’s all going plus being paperless, it will save all those trees being cut down to make the statements we send out.”
I was touched by this and as there was no one behind me who might have done the touching – I put this down as a sort of novelty, unless it ever happens again – so I thought I should discuss this with my ‘advisor’.
I suggested that the chopping down of trees, unspecified breed, would still go on as the paper would be still needed to be used for posters telling us customers/clients/punters that there are wondrous deals to be had via one of the highly trained specialist advisors, whom might know what point seven of a per cent on a fiver is.
This was parried with: “Expect them to be electronic notice boards soon,” and I thought yes, this will happen as it works on buses telling you where the said bus would be going and that would be a step forward and no doubt we will have to undertake a personal risk assessment to see if the signs are too bright for our eyes but time will tell I said and I jumped there before she did by saying possibly talking clocks soon as well?
Quite worryingly there were no more customers racked up behind me and quite unusual to say the least and so I played my master card – I could have played my Visa card but didn’t have it on me – and I plunged the whole thing into disarray by pointing out one very small minor point.
To suggest: “We will all have to bank on-line eventually,” we have to have a reliable broadband supplier and sadly that is something much like the tooth fairy in that it is talked about, and many say they have seen it but so far has not made a real appearance in front of witnesses although they have been left a small deposit in exchange for said tooth, at the usual interests rates of course (wonder if the Tooth Fairy knows what point seven percent is on a fiver?..)
By now said advisor/cashier is looking for others as well to form a queue behind me as perhaps I am asking prudent questions that possibly the staff training has not bothered to pursue and to be thinking on one’s own initiative is proving tricky stuff.
The idea of a ‘paperless society’ is a no brainer. How can you prove you have paid something if you cannot access your computer as the broadband ‘service’ has gone on the blink, an almost daily occurrence in our area as I know only too well from constant experience and speaking to folk in India to get it sorted which kills two or thee hours in the process and goes like so.
Once getting through to them we then discuss the finer points of telecommunications as in: “What size and colour is your wall socket, please?” is explored several times and after the ninth try, its agreed it’s a little square one, white in colour with a hole in the front where the plug is inserted.
My best moment was when I was speaking to Michael, Martin and Mark whom were all the very same person but each time he/whoever came back to me after ‘running tests’ as in he said he was Michael speaking again followed by he was then Martin and Mark after he nipped off to run ‘other’ tests (or in real terms do his cross word and I could think of a few as well) or anything with an M on the front end seemed a target for him and my only disappointment was he never tried saying he was Mary or Marie but as it was only a mere three hour call, perhaps if we had gone that extra mile, who knows – Madonna maybe?
But the point I was making to the date stamping one was unlike electricity where you press a switch and the light comes on, that with broadband, regardless of the supplier it seems, you try logging on and it’s with a wing and a prayer or a ‘Lucky Rabbit’s Foot’ by arrangement, to get connected.
Supposed security is now well known as being compromised or breached as if it can happen to governments, national security bodies and the like as recent events have proven and now dubbed ‘cyber crime’.
If some clever soul can develop a system then another equally clever soul will find a way round it so what chance does a bank stand against hackers who only have one motive in mind and its not to let you know what point seven per cent on a fiver is either.
There is a lot to be said for the stereo type local bank branch going back some years ago now as portrayed in TV’s ‘Dad’s Army’ as the staff are there ‘face to face’ unlike today’s world where it’s getting like you ring up, be placed in a queue waiting to be heard although you are told ‘your call is important’ before being transferred (eventually) to somewhere possibly on the sub-continent to speak with Madonna or another of his friends who then asks you to describe your pound coin, how you lost it and do you have it’s serial number handy please?
Back to reality: I also mentioned a minor point in the common sense stakes as in if we were to all go on-line banking, just what role would she be gainfully employed in doing as if there is no need for banks as in the buildings as we know them, assume the financial advisors will work from home as you will ring or email them (if possible...) plus where will she be doing her ‘9 to 5’ routine as once it goes, it’s gone and you never hear of over-priced trendy wine bars being turned into banks very often.
I assume by the blank stare it’s a “no idea” and I asked if at the next staff meeting this might be brought up in passing to the higher echelon, minor point that it is, and get back with the result.
Sadly we live in a world geared to profits, greed and mass domination of a chosen area of business and this being banking, it seems the customer is now a dying breed unless he or she wants to ‘go online’ if that conversation is anything to go by.
The writing is on the wall and I don’t mean the fanciful posters either.