Tuesday 22 January 2013

When people are my ears...

Yesterday I locked myself out of my bank card.

Stupid? Yes! Very.

The company is it with have a live Internet chat service so I logged in and got a chat person instantly.

'How can I help you?' he tapped.

I explained the situation and that I was deaf so couldn't call to sort it out.

''Ive made a note of your deafness on your account,' he said, 'Brilliant!' I replied before asking him about my locked bank card.

And guess what he answered?

Yup, he told me to call a number to speak to someone to have my bank card unlocked.

I sat there, rereading our live chat on my screen, wondering how, when it was written twice for him, and he'd just made a note of it on my account, he thought me calling up was an option.

I pointed this out, as politely as my angry hands would allow and he informed me that anyone could call for me. Anyone huh? That didn't sound right.

So Art Man picked up the phone and rang. He explained I was deaf, he explained I'd stupidly locked my bank card and he explained that I was sat right beside him. The person refused to help.

Not prepared to give up, he requested a manager. He explained it all over again, he reiterated the fact that he could put me on speaker phone and relay the conversation by mouthing it to me. He was met by reluctance. So he went through it all again.

Eventually the manager agreed to put the phone on speaker and she asked me my security questions with Art Man relaying them to me. She asked me if I gave him permission to speak on my behalf and I confirmed, acknowledging that the flip side of this is that in theory, card fraud should be quite difficult.

After about 10 minutes the card was finally unlocked. She'd also given us an address where I can send a letter to authorise a person to speak on my behalf. It's that simple. You just send a letter.

That doesn't seem very fraud proof...

It was a hassle, but it was 10 times less of a hassle than it usually is because I had one of the most proactive, won't take no for an answer people being my ears.


But it also reminded me what a complete inconvenience all this is. So much so that I know I've been on the wrong British Gas tariff for three years because I can't face the nightmare minefield of calling them to rectify this. I've emailed them to explain this and they always reply with 'Call this number and we will help you right away.'

Now I know I could use a text relay service (is that what its called? I really should know) but I don't know how to, and I'm cross that this is the only option. And whenever I look into it, my brain shuts down in the same way it use to when I tried to learn long division at school or work out force problems in physics.

I need to see if this is a viable solution to my problem, but I'd also like to see another solution - an email solution.

I know there are fraud issues and all that jazz, but how do they know its really Deafinitely Girly on the phone either?

Maybe they could have a Skype line so I could lipread the person I was talking to, or even better, a simple online way of getting your tariff changed or card unlocked.

All I know is right now is I'm in my 30s and I can't do everything on my own. I can use a hammer drill, I can buy a flat, I can decorate it and build flatpack furniture. I can drive a car and, well the list is endless, but I can't get the right British Gas tariff. I can't unlock my bank card. I can't make a GP appointment unless I employ someone to be my ears and I can't even call a taxi.

I have no idea what to say to that...

*goes off to google text relay or whatever it is*


Anonymous said...

I imagine you've thought of or tried these but just in case it's of interest...

I think you can change tariff (and supplier) online using uswitch.com or similar without speaking to anyone.

Have you tried taxi booking apps like Hailo? I'm not sure if there are any non-London versions.

You can normally go into a bank branch and do anything with an actual person that you can do on the phone. I agree that it is baffling that you can't do things like this online.

Deborah said...

Here's a 47 year old adult woman who lives on her own and was asked: "Can your mom or dad answer the phone for you?"

Amusing and not amusing at the same time.


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