Friday, 6 December 2013

Harassment- pure and simple!

I don't often take to ether on non- crafty subjects, but my recent experience at the hands of MBNA bank has made me so angry that I'm going to break the habit of a lifetime and have a little rant about their (lack of) customer service.

First off, I should say that I'm in a bit of a dispute with them about some charges to my account, and a couple of months ago, had a long chat with them about life the universe and everything, and amongst other things we discussed - I asked them to not deal with my business by phone.

So life continues on peacefully, until about three weeks ago when I picked up the phone to someone wanting me to tell them the answers to various security questions and alleging to be from MBNA.....

Well needless to say, I refused to engage with them...... (Well would YOU give out that sort of information to a cold caller just because they say they are from a bank???) not least because I thought I had made it abundantly clear back on the last occasion that I did not wish to have dealings over the phone, so was not expecting to be called by them.......

Well what a silly move that was..... Because every day for more than 3 weeks, I have been bombarded by phone calls from MBNA.... Not just once a day, but several times a day, at all hours of the day and night to both my mobile and landline numbers, and totally ignoring the request made a few months ago not to ring me! Even when I answer the phone, and they identify themselves, the fact that they get an "Email me!" Just before I put the phone down doesn't seem to have got through to the call centre staff..... And you would think that having been told quite clearly, umpteen times, that I wasn't going to talk on the phone, that the message would have sunk in by now!

Don't get me wrong, I know that I do need to engage with the stupid sods, but I have asked that communication be via email (sensible and widespread in the 21st Century - no?? ) or by post, I just prefer not to do so by phone! I have (reluctantly) phoned them several times this week, and contacted them via the secure email on their website telling them to email me or live chat online with me - but no - it seems that they have been brought up that the phone is the only way to communicate with customers!

I don't know about the rest of you gentle readers - but I HATE dealing with anything serious over the phone, especially when it's a cold call that I'm not prepared for. The normally cool, calm and confident in person me turns into a jabbering weeping wreck at the end of an awkward phone call...... And it's not helped by the fact that the person on the other end of the phone usually hails from a call centre in India, and has (for me anyway) an impenetratable accent!

Most people don't realise that I do have a slight hearing problem..... I've never been able to hear properly when there is a lot of ambient noise, and have problems when people mumble or talk too fast, or have a heavy accent. Face to face I can manage easily as I obviously lip read and read body language, but on the phone, I can't see the caller, and end up saying things like "Pardon?", "Can you say that again a bit more slowly?", and "I'm sorry, but I really cannot understand what you are saying" more times than I care to think about. It's frustrating for me, and surely it must be equally so for the caller?

Add in the other side of the problem for those of us who have hearing problems - the fact that we tend to speak more loudly than usual because we can't hear properly..... And while I might talk to the occasional staff member when I initiate the call, there is no way I am going to discuss my private business with anyone in public where it would be all to easily overheard!

So, why the rant today?

Well yesterday, I bit the bullet, and picked up the phone to them myself, seeing as the four emails sent via their website seem to have fallen on deaf ears. After nearly an hour on the phone, I thought we had finally got things sorted, only to be dragged out of the bath at 8:15 this morning by two calls to my mobile (one from a number I had blocked) and one to my landline, both of which I ignored? Then, the final lighting of the touch paper..... They did the same thing again an hour later.......

To me, this is harassment pure and simple! It's bad enough to have to deal with calls you don't want to , but when the caller refuses to listen to reasonable repeated requests to deal with the matter by other means it's starting to get serious! I have been called at least 3 times each day to both phones for the last 3-4 weeks, so a minimum of 6 calls a day for 25 days is a lot of wasted time and effort on their part, and the cost to them must way exceed the £30 odd that they were chasing.

The end of the tale? Well an angry call to the UK office seems to have finally sorted it out, and I have told them that I want my phone numbers deleted from their records, something that I will follow up in writing. But I'm thinking of starting a campaign to stop this bombardment of calls in these situations. Luckily, I can deal with it, but what about those more vulnerable? I can now understand why some people in financial difficulties can be pushed into taking drastic action, the constant ringing phone and calls from people who refuse to go away or listen......

This sort of thing should be stopped straight away..... It clearly is not time and cost effective for the institutions, it's annoying for those on the receiving end, and it could push a vulnerable person over the edge.