The Nameless Horror

Dear @Natwest_Help -

Your bank has a system whereby if post sent to an account’s address is returned for any reason, a “return to branch” marker is put on it and no more post is sent. This is very sensible. Kudos!

What is not sensible is:

  • No message is sent to the account holder - bearing in mind you have my two phone numbers and my email address so it shouldn’t be bloody hard - to inform them that it’s happened. (Hell, you could write to the blocked address saying “if you are the account holder and this has happened in error then please…” without breaching security since in order to get the marker removed you need to go to the branch in person, with photo ID, your card and PIN etc., to have the marker removed.) This is insane.

  • Calling it a “return to branch” marker when as far as I can tell, post isn’t then stored at the branch to be reclaimed when the account holder uses their psychic powers to realise what has happened and comes to have it put back to normal. Instead, everything needs to be sent again. Which if the reason you realised something was up because you had reached the end of a chequebook with no auto-mailed replacement arriving and you have wedding stuff to pay for, and because your bank card expires in a fortnight and shouldn’t the replacement have arrived by now, is a real pain in the arse.

  • … particularly when, as now, you discover that what the computer system in branch told the CSA when you wanted to double check everything would be arriving (“No, the most recent card we have listed is the one that’s going to expire, so there should be no problem. Contact us if it’s not arrived by the 25th so it can still arrive by the month’s end if there’s an issue.”) is completely different to what the computer system for the helpline then says when you call because it has yet again failed to appear (“One was sent on the 10th. Oh, and it says here it’s been activated.” - cue lots of hunting through transactions since then to check no one’s spending my cash). (There is, as yet, still no sign of that chequebook either.)

  • Requiring the account holder to use photo ID in addition to card and PIN to remove the marker to have stuff sent to the account address again (note that this wasn’t a change of address; the listed one was correct and I haven’t moved in a good while) when, if I were a thief with just the card and PIN, and a couple of weeks left in the month to do it, I could empty the account of all its contents. This is total security theatre. Speaking as an account holder - one who thought “nah, why would they need that when I’m not trying to change any details?” and consequently had a self-imposed walk in the rain for nothing - the ‘cleaning out my account’ effect is a lot more serious to me than the ‘having post sent to an address on file a thief might have access to’ effect, since the first renders the second void.

  • Not informing the account holder when post is stopped. I know it was the first one on the list, but this is so mind-blowingly stupid I felt it needed mentioning again. Your customers are not telepathic. At least post a message after login to your online system; that would work nicely. Send a carrier pigeon. A cryptic series of puzzles, each more fiendish than the last. Anything.

Yours, etc. etc.

Me.

Update: 26/4: The phone CSA didn’t just cancel the missing and apparently activated bank card (if she did), but also the soon-to-be-expired one that I do still have. The only way I can now access the account is to walk into town carrying a hundred forms of ID and a pint of my blood in order to carry vast amounts of cash around on my person. Or else abandon the idea entirely and switch to a barter economy and give people turnips in exchange for goods. I’ll need to grow the turnips first, but that should be a quicker process than waiting for the bank to fix things.