Thursday, 31 May 2012

Don’t Bank on it

Just to remind people I have a speech impairment and poor co-ordination so I find banking in this day and age almost impossible to do on my own. Let's take it one step at a time.
Cash machines: the invention for instant cash – I have more chance of sticking my finger in my ear than I have of sticking my cash card in the slot, let alone trying to hit the right combination of buttons. Instant cash? Instant disaster! So my cash card has now been swallowed by the hole in the wall so I phone the call centre to report this ……
Bank call centre: the world's worst invention for a guy who speaks like Chewbacca! First of all you get the menu, you know, "hit 1 for this, 2 for that" Hitting the numbers in the right order to start with is a gamble for me. If I get pass this, a voice comes on the end of the phone saying "can I help you" and that's when the fun really starts. You can't use personal assistance 'cos oh no, customers services can't talk to anyone unauthorised, even if they're sitting on your lap. So I try to express verbally what I would like. "My card has been swallowed by your cash point machine, can I have a new one please?" (simple enough if you speak chewbaccan). So we have a fun 20-minute conversation with me repeating the same sentence in several different ways and them saying "sorry but I can't understand you". It ends up with "you'll have to go into your branch and sort this out", which is code for can't understand ….. getting really embarrassed ….. so I need to get rid of you.
Chip and Pin: who's ridiculous idea was this? The banks all said when they first came out, we've consulted with our customers and this is what they want. Obviously they didn't speak to customers with co-ordination impairments, the last thing we want when going for a meal is to play 'press the right button' on the portable card reader machine. So what do we do? We have to tell partners, friends, the waiter(!) our pin number. Now that's really secure! So I have a choice, I can carry a wad of money in my pocket which leaves me open to being mugged or carry a chip and pin card with no security 'cos I've got to tell people my pin number when I pay for things. So thanks Mr Banker, I really feel consulted on this.
I've covered these topics in a rather jokey manner; this is to cover up my complete frustration. The whole point of technology is to enable greater independence but as you can read the banks have made me more dependent on others by having systems with no other options. What I'm trying to get across is, think about what you're doing and think about the customer base. One person in five has some sort of impairment, don't marginalise them. Speak to us. We can help with solutions that will work for everybody.
PS. I hope Chewbacca's not insulted J

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