Monday, 9 August 2010

Here we go again – that feeling of déjà vu!

Recently my friend Colin Davies has commented in his blog on the frustration of trying to persuade one of Spain’s biggest banks to let a friend of his get his hands on his own money. Apparently his passport wasn’t sufficient proof of who he was; they also wanted, and claimed not to have, some document with his signature on it. I too have expressed my annoyance with the same big bank because of their inability to cancel a standing order in advance, involving me in unnecessary extra visits to said bank.

Now I’ve come across the same little problem in another area of life in Spain. For almost two years we have been connected to internet via a mobile dongle, paying a monthly sum via the annoying bank to a phone company with a colourful name. On Thursday we fly back to the UK for an as yet unspecified length of time. Consequently we won’t be using the mobile internet connection any more; to use it outside of Spain you have to pay extortionate amounts of money! We know this because we once naively or thoughtlessly connected in Portugal and had to pay a huge bill before they reconnected us.

Anyway, I wanted to let the company know in advance; it was one of the things on my list of jobs to do. So I called them up the other day, and communicated for a while with the annoying automatic system. You know the sort of thing where you receive a series of instructions:-

First you are told to enter the number of the phone about which you want to consult them.
The system reads back the number and tells you to press 1 if this is correct.
Next it tells you press 1 if your consultation is about a mobile phone or internet connection.
Then you are offered a range of options, calling for a vocal response, the final one being “otra consulta”.
Within “otra consulta” you receive ANOTHER range of options, again ending with “otra consulta”.
On and on and on it goes.

You can tell that I really appreciate automated systems. Eventually I got through to a human being, supposedly alive and awake on the end of the line. So I explained the situation, gave her our number AGAIN, confirmed my ID and that of the contract holder, my husband. She ummed and aahed about whether she needed to speak to him and then, I don’t know how much time later, revealed that I can’t actually ask them to disconnect on advance. Well, I can ask but they won’t take any notice. I need to phone them on the day that we use the mobile connection for the last time. And it has to be Monday to Saturday as they won’t do anything with it on a Sunday. So it’s a good job we aren’t flying on a Monday and want to use the connection for the last time on a Sunday then.

How hard is it to pre-programme a computer to disconnect us? Failing that, how hard is it to give some minion an instruction to disconnect a certain number on a certain future date? Good grief, I can pre-programme my oven to stop and start at various times. I can set the thermostat for the heating – well, not actually me personally but I do know that it can be done. So why can’t big, international, supposedly modern and sophisticated banks and phone companies not programme advance booking of actions?

Ah well, never mind. I’ve finally managed to cancel to payment at the bank so they won’t be getting any more money from us anyway!!


  1. That's what you think!

    And, if they do, you'll probably start to get demands and then lawyers' letters from the phone company. With whom I had one of these experiences in the last few days. See tonight's blog!

  2. Ah, but Colin, they will no longer know where Ilive!!!!