The red tape

I’ve had a lot of dealings with the bank and various insurance institutions over the last few days, and I have to say, the world could do with a little less red tape and a little more commonsense.

I’ve been shunted from Adam to Zena, and still none the wiser – or much better off – for my efforts, it would seem.

I feel I that although I won a little ground with the bank, I lost it again in  a mountain of insurance underwriting protocol that would make a seasoned broker’s head spin.

It began as a ‘digging-my-heals-in’ scenario, with a stubborn resolve ingrained into me by a mother who I swear would still have the first penny that she ever earned. The bank threw down the gauntlet and decided to raise their mortgage interest rates, and I decided it was time to negotiate or move onto a better deal elsewhere. We as consumers are supposedly allowed this freedom of choice, but the underlying difficulties outlined in the ‘fine print’ make this so-called freedom of choice pretty hard to come by unless you have nerves of steel.

The first challenge was getting past the operator, or as my husband so eloquently puts it, ‘getting past the monkey to speak to the organ grinder.’ One thousand and fifty other people must have had the same idea however, because the lines were so busy that I had to wait for at least 20 minutes before I was lucky enough to speak to the monkey.

I was then informed that I had come through to the wrong section and I would have to be put through to the ‘Established Home Loan Team’ and wait my turn. How does one know how to get to the right section when it is not stated in the original directions in the bank’s introductory recorded spiel?

I waited another 20 minutes and finally got to where I needed to go, only to be cut off by an incompetent telephonist with an obvious trigger-finger, just after I stated my case. So I had to start again.

My husband and the dogs left the room and went to sit out on the veranda as I started to twitch and mutter to myself about the blatant inconsistencies between intelligence and application in the workforce these days.

After another long 20 minutes, I sounded off to an unlucky operator about my unfortunate banking experience thus far, and managed to get the direct number of my so-called destination, in the unlikely event that I was cut off again. I considered the merit of that statement as I waited for another 20 minutes to put forward my argument once again. By the time I was transferred through, I was gunning for them and wasn’t leaving without a fight, or at the very minimum, a reduction rather than an increase in our mortgage interest rate.

I’m pretty sure they’d heard it all that day, and I was just another in a long line of unhappy consumers charged up and ready to go into the belly of the banking beast to fight to the death. So not only did I not get an interest hike, I got a reduction as well.

I’m left wondering what a bank’s bottom line actually is. It was too easily won not to feel a little cheated at some level. I am probably still well within the bank’s buffer zone, considering the record profits that the banks are obligated to post publicly every so often.

Still, a win is a win. But the insurance company is another story.

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