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If there's a point, it has been missed
The Cheltenham and Gloucester thing has finished. I have, this year, written three letters. I tried antagonistic, objective and angry, and nothing worked. Here is the letter I received from Mr (Customer Services) Marshman today:
31 May 2001
Dear Mr Frieze
Whilst we are sorry that you dissatisfaction with the Direct 30 withdrawal procedure has resulted in your decision to close your account, the fact remains that we have successfully operating the account in this fashion since its inception. Bearing this in mind, I must respectfully advise that there is no obvious reason to alter a system which works perfectly well for the overwhelming majority of our customers.
Yours sincerely[signed by the man himself, WITH his middle initial]
Customer services? Pah, the man doesn't know the meaning of the words. I could think of things to write back and say, but I offered him (in the last letter) a chance for a final word and I'll let that letter close it. The simple fact remains that he is wrong. He is wrong on two counts. Firstly, a system which has been in operation for a while is not necessarily exempt from improvement. Secondly, I have decided never to use Cheltenham and Gloucester ever again not because of their withdrawal procedure, but because their customer service is a pile of ... well, you know.
I have discussed with other people the fact that their system means I have to hold onto a confirmation slip for 30 days before I am allowed to return it, and the general consensus is that this is out of the ordinary and silly. To those who say, quite reasonably, that it is immaterial whether it's silly or not and that I ought to follow the rules, I say this: which is easier, having to hold the slip until the bank is prepared to accept it, or returning the slip at one's earliest convenience? Only a fool would say the former.
So the point of this failed attempt to make myself heard at Cheltenham and Gloucester was not to ask them to let me break their rules, but was, instead, to show them that their system was not customer oriented and ask them to consider changing it, one day. At no point have I ever felt that Cheltenham and Gloucester staff were listening. This is what annoys me the most. They have treated me like a fool. I have the last laugh, though. I know I am not a fool, or at least, not a fool in the way they think I am. I am, however, a complete idiot for ever thinking I could pursuade them even to discuss their shortcomings reasonably.
So, vote with your feet - if the service provider is stubborn and clumsy, tell them where to stick their service.
02 June 2001