Is Chris Lancaster a Dick Head?

BBC News and The Register are both reporting that that NatWest bank issued a debit card to 18-year-old customer Chris Lancaster.

Banks issue debit cards every day. What makes this particular card blogworthy is that said card was imprinted with the name MR C LANCASTER DICK HEAD, which I can only assume is not the correct spelling of the customer's full legal name.

Hilarity ensued. No word yet on how or why this occurred. My guess is that Mr. Head - I mean, Mr. Lancaster - may be the obnoxious or beligerent type, and managed to piss off a NatWest bank call centre employee who retaliated in the grandest and wittiest of British tradition.

The moral of this story: never piss off a bank call centre employee.

Easier said than done? Perhaps his experience was similar to mine. (Now before you read any further, keep in mind that I am not antagonistic by nature, so I only press the point when I am asking something reasonable. Of course, all my demands are reasonable.)

I have a Bank of Montreal Mastercard, which earlier this year had a credit balance of $8.73. (This means that I had a negative balance and they actually owed me $8.73, probably because of a return or an overpayment.) Normally, a credit balance can be used to offset future purchases. But since I never really use this credit card, I decided to transfer the amount to my chequing account instead. I did this using their web banking service.

A few days later, I noticed that the balance on my credit card was now zero, and that the $8.73 had been credited to my chequing account, but that a service charge of $3.00 had simultaneously been deducted from my chequing account.

Puzzled, I phoned them to find out why. The call went something like this:

Bank: Hello! Thank you for calling Bank of Montreal! My name is Perky! How can I help you! Tonight! Mr. Sanei!
Me: Hello, I'm calling to find out why there was a $3.00 service charge on my chequing account.
Bank: Just a moment! While I look into that for you!
(interesting music plays while she looks into that for me)
Bank: It looks like you took out a cash advance from your Mastercard! There is a $3.00 charge for this service.
Me: Really? I don't remember taking a cash advance.
Bank: It looks like there was a cash advance for $8.73 on such-and-such date!
Me: Oh, that wasn't a cash advance, I had a credit balance on the card which I was transfering to my chequing account.
Bank: Yes, that is treated as a cash advance.
Me: Well, a cash advance is when you borrow money from your credit card. I wasn't borrowing any money, I was just zeroing out a negative balance.
Bank: I understand that, but it is processed as a cash advance.
Me: But you weren't advancing me any cash. I wasn't borrowing money. You were simply returning my money to me. The card went from a negative $8.73 balance to a zero balance. If I had ended up owing you money, then it would be a cash advance.
Bank: I understand that, but it's still treated as a cash advance.
Me: I disagree. I didn't borrow any money, so you're not advancing me any cash.
Bank: It's still treated as a cash advance.
Me: I didn't borrow any money.
Bank: It's still treated as a cash advance.
Me: I didn't borrow any money.
Bank: It's still treated as a cash advance.
Me: I didn't borrow any money.
Bank: It's still treated as a cash advance.
Me: I didn't borrow any money.
Bank: It's still treated as a cash advance.
Me: I didn't borrow any money.
Bank: It's still treated as a cash advance.
Me: I didn't borrow any money! Look, you have my account information in front of you. Do you really think I needed to borrow a measly $8.73? Or that I would be stupid enough to pay $3.00 for the privilege of doing so?
Bank: Just a moment.
(interesting music plays while she contemplates whether I am stupid enough to pay $3.00 in order to borrow $8.73 from myself)
Bank: Okay sir, I have credited your account the $3.00, in the future please remember that service charges do apply to all cash advances.
Me: Thank you, I appreciate that, but you keep saying cash advance, and the point is still that I didn't borrow any money, so you're not advancing me any cash.
Bank: It's still treated like a cash advance.
Me: I just don't think I should have to pay a service charge for your bank's inability to distinguish between lending money and refunding money.
Bank: I've returned the $3.00 to you, is there anything else I can do for you tonight Mr. Sanei?
Me: Yes there is: I would like for you to acknowledge that even though you may define the transaction as a cash advance, you didn't actually advance any cash to me.
Bank: It's still treated like a cash advance.


I hate dealing with banks. And I can't believe you read through that entire conversation. I was sure I'd lose you at the third instance of "It's still treated as a cash advance."

Comments

Just D said…
That is a riot. Think you can call the bank again so you can post the next conversation?

I, for one, would appreciate it. ;-)
Sassan Sanei said…
For the love of all things good, that would require me having to talk to an actual bank employee AGAIN... sorry, no way. There's a reason I do as much of my banking online as possible: it's not the convenience, it's the lack of grumpification!

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