Halifax Bank, England.
British banks as we know don’t want just any customer. They want customers that have a steady flow of income. Like a weekly or monthly paycheck. Regardless of that, they are softening up and as long as you lie about an income they will accept you for an account, although reluctantly. (I guess British logic might be starting to realize the billions of pounds that lies in the people’s pocket)
Such is the case with most foreigners. Most of them don’t speak the
language and have no job. They have money in their pocket and most works off the books. They usually rent a room to start with and they use cash to pay the rent. They have no utility bills. Halifax bank offers these people a so called telephone banking account (easy cash account they call it) and this is how it works.
You apply online and lie on the application about an income. Say, domestic cleaning or something meager like that. You get an approval letter in the post in about two weeks. You go to the local Halifax bank office with that and two forms of ID. A passport and a personal ID from your country is acceptable. They’ll make a copy of that and in about 2 weeks you’ll get your account approved and receive a Visa electron card in the mail with all the passwords and other information.
So now you have your bank account and a card you can use in the stores and on the internet. The trouble starts when your card gets blocked by the bank for some unknown reason. It happens a lot with this card. I mean it happens at least once a month. The bank won’t tell why.
This is a telephone banking account and most of these people (foreigners) don’t speak english. They ask someone to call the number on the card but as you are a translator the bank not giving you any information regarding that account. The account holder is unable to verify him/herself on the phone due to not understanding a word of english. The Person on the phone will not help. They say “go to your local branch and talk to them.
You go to the branch and this is what they say. “I am sorry but this is Telephone banking account and we can’t help you” DUH!!! You are dealing with the same bank, but one arm don’t know what the other is doing. They are not synchronized.
Now these foreigners are stuck with their money in the bank they can’t use, the phone banking arm not telling the translator anything, the local branch arm is unwilling to co-operate.
Usually if you take a translator to the bank with you and the translator is persuasive enough and the lines are growing behind you at the customer service desk, the bank employee will have no choice but to co-operate, but it might take 10-15 minutes of arguing and talking to put pressure on them.
All they would have to do is to pick up the phone and call the card services number of their own company. I guess the bank had told them not to do it because the phone call cost money.
In Britain there are virtually no Toll free numbers. Very very few companies are using it, unlike in the USA where they use Toll Free numbers. The banks are particularly keen on using paying numbers where they make money off of any phone call.
They would keep you online for minutes at premium rates with the recorded message, before you can get through to a person. Very annoying and insulting.
Unfortunately at this point the foreigners have no choice but take what they get and try to work with that. The banks aren’t budging. Many of them won’t even open an account to a foreigner unless they have a utility bill to prove their UK address. So in effect the British banking practices enticing black market and cash only transactions among millions of people living in Britain. And we are talking about billions of pounds.