21 February 2007

Complaints about Work, Bank & Insurance

*sigh* There are a few things I am juggling with at the moment:

_ I will consult the SOAS Student Welfare Office concerning my employer and dubious incidents and practices which have added up and peaked in me not having received my payment (due on the 20th of each month) and difficulties in providing me with a contract (which apart from offering security is needed in order to apply for a UK National Insurance Number). If they don't pay me by Friday, they will not see me on Saturday and until the money is on my account!

_ A propos bank account, I called HSBC yesterday and found out how to contact the complaints hotline (the contact numbers on their webpage is very complicated and provides insufficient information about the responsibilites of each department => whichever number you call, they are not responsible or you might not find a likely number at all)! I filed an official complaint about everything that went wrong with HSBC, starting with the application and ending with the fact that I have been charged fees even though, after five months, I still haven't received my debit card! I actually read it off my blog, since it was so long ago (November!) that I didn't remember all the details. The guy on the phone found it quite funny that I blogged about this but in an OK way! Turns out, the debit card had been sent to the branch in Oxford Street but since I didn't pick it up in time, was destroyed. I have never been notified that it was ready for pick-up! The complaints guy took notes and gave me a reference number, saying that they will get back to me about this (means, I will never hear from them again).

_ Insurance: Since I found out that Dinwiddy provides possessions insurance for residents, I quit my private student possessions insurance from Endsleigh, so I can at least get a fraction of the fee back. The woman who I spoke to on the phone asked me for my policy number and said, "I will check that for you, OK?". I expected to be put on hold but suddenly was disconnected instead. I thought it was due to the internet where I was calling from, so I called again. A colleague of hers answered, asked her and told me that the issue is being dealt with (means, she hung up the phone intentionally). I asked him about the refund and he said it will be in my post (in the UK, cheques are used everyday). I received a letter today, confirming my cancellation of the policy but no cheque, called the lady again around lunchtime and was told that she will call me back as soon as she can. Haven't heard from her today! *sigh*

The UK is known for its strong service sector, maybe this is just London but everything is so much more complicated, or as we say in Austria "zach". You have to run after everyone and REMIND everyone that you are a customer! Banks are not user-friendly, don't have an efficient structure and trying to get an answer to any enquiry is a pain in the arse. EVERYTIME, I have to deal with HSBC, something goes wrong, sometimes even in multiple ways. I have heard about other banks where it is the same. If I give my employer my Austrian bank account number... I don't even know if they are allowed to transfer the money abroad even if they were inclined to do so. After all, any accounts outside the UK could be used for terrorism! *sigh* Either they are bloody paranoid or UK banks have free reign to maintain their monopoly on capital flows in the country or both.

Also I believe that being a student and an international one at that makes you a second-class customer, you are of no value until you graduate because studying in the UK is so costly. And because they believe you don't know about your rights. When I went to Endsleigh in September to buy the insurance, the woman didn't treat my like a serious and adult customer, instead she tried to convince me that getting an insurance probably for the first time in your life is so uncomplicated and that Endsleigh is not one of those iffy insurance companies that are oh so uninviting to students (she said "cool" all the time and tried to act like "a student"). Frankly, when I came out of the office, I had second thoughts about going to this company because the whole experience seemed so unsatisfying (detailed questions regarding the policy were not answered sufficiently) and the employee so unprofessional.

0 courageous comments!: