Sunday, July 10, 2011

Not happy

I've had a few dealings recently with the unbelievable red tape in the UK and the laughable customer service there and I'm in the middle of another major problem caused by it right now.

A few months ago we sold a house we owned in England. You wouldn't believe what we had to do to prove we were who we said we were - it was all to do with money laundering legislation the solicitor said.

In reality most the frustration is caused by 'jobsworths'; defined by the Oxford English Dictionary  as "a person in authority (esp. a minor official) who insists on adhering to rules and regulations or bureaucratic procedures even at the expense of common sense." They've also been defined as "a minor factotum whose only status comes from enforcing otherwise petty regulations".

In my experience it's more than that. It's people misinterpreting, misunderstanding or simply not knowing enough about the rules but insisting on enforcing their version of them.

To complete the house sale we had to produce passports, other photo ID, signed statements from people that we were indeed us, copies of credit cards to prove our signatures were our signatures.  We had to prove our bank account was our bank account.  Each new piece of evidence we supplied was followed by another demand for something additional.  It went on for days.

My latest run in is with Emirates and my UK bank.

I made bookings online for two family members to travel from the UK to Australia. I've booked online with Emirates many times and it's quick and easy with their excellent website.

But not if you're flying from the UK. If the person paying is not one of the passengers they won't accept credit card payments.

So I had to do a bank transfer, not to Emirates but to their nominated Global Collect BV. Did that, got a receipt from my bank. Waited for the e-tickets.

Nothing. No confirmation, no acknowledgement, no tickets.

I e-mailed Emirates to ask why and discovered that queries are forwarded to the country of departure. That means it went to the UK, so naturally my e-mail was ignored.

I sent another one.

This time I got a reply saying it must be a payment problem and asking for details of the payment. I gave them the information and they replied that my query had been passed to the relevant department and I would be informed as soon as they had an update.  

The bank, the now government owned Royal Bank of Scotland, had sent me a note that the money had been transferred but I wanted to double-check that it had indeed gone from our bank account.

The website won't let me log in. It suggests you re-activate your online banking if that happens. It won't let me reactivate.

You can send them an e-mail, which they promise to respond to in typical UK customer service style...within ten working days.

Now there's an e-mail from Emirates that as payment was not made by the due date the reservations have been cancelled and I have to rebook. But I pay again of course if I do that.

You might guess that I'm not best pleased at the moment.


Grumpy Goat said...

Fans,and former fans of of Viz comic will instantly recognise a 'Bottom Inspector'.

Ace said...

Things have not gotten much easier with the promise and potential of emails and online dealings.

New rules are made that hobble any advances in convenience. I am going through such an experience myself. Nothing more frustrating that having thousands of dollars in "cyberspace" and no one is accountable for it.

Having to prove citizenship and ownership yet again to sell private property is bullshit as well. Tax records should establish that.