A while back, Fat Mac received a phone-call from his bank, asking him to go into his local branch, which he did, although he didn’t really want to, being more interested in becoming a recluse. The bank chappie took him into an office and asked him to log in to his digital account. Fat Mac looked blank, so the chappie entered some of Mac’s details for him, and then said, “Now enter your secret password, please.”
“Whit?” Mac asked.
“Your secret password. It will probably be something memorable.”
“Ah cannae ‘mind it! Hiv ye nae got it here? Ye’re ma bank efter a’ ”
“No, we don’t have details of your secret password. Only you know it. How do you log in from home? Don’t you use it then?”
“Ah dinnae login frae hame! Ah hiv enough wars against machines wi’oot doin’ online banking.”
“Well, I’m afraid we can’t continue, if you can’t remember your password.”
“What was it that you wanted to find out about anyway?”
“Nu’hin. Yous asked me to come in.”
“OK. And what do you want from us, then?”
“Ah’s jes wannae be left alaine.”
Today, I was expecting something vaguely similar when I went into my bank for an appointment about their Rewards account. I’m not keen on the whole concept of their Rewards service, and I was fully prepared for the following sort of conversation:
“Hello Mr MacLeod. And why do you want to change to a Rewards account?”
“Mainly because it seems the easiest way to stop you phoning me and emailing me about it.”
However, it didn’t go like that. Eventually, I got switched to a Rewards account, and it seems that it will be financially beneficial for me to do so. I tried to find out where the money comes from that makes it so, but the girl didn’t know. We eventually agreed, at my suggestion, that it was probably because other banks were offering similar services, so my bank needs to compete with them. However, giving me, who has enough already, more, probably means that they are taking it from someone who doesn’t have enough, by way of high interest charges or something. That’s why I’m not keen on the whole thing. But – anything to stop some cold calls.
Most of my appointment time at the bank was taken up with the girl trying to replace the initial A with my full middle name in their database, which she wanted to do for unknown reasons (I’ve been with the same bank for 45 years and it has never been an issue). This involved first and second attempts which didn’t work, then she logged off her system entirely, re-logged in, ran through several drop-downs, typed in my middle name, saved, logged out, restarted, and so on, for about ten minutes until the bank’s database finally accepted my middle name.
Watching her do this allowed me time to tell her about my sister’s current problem with her middle name in her attempts to get a visa to visit a country in the East.
My sister followed the online visa application process to the letter. The online form said:
Given Name (As in Passport)
So she entered her given name.
When I went into the relevant visa office the other day with her passport and supporting papers (I was doing this for her as my sister lives in the north, where there is no visa office) I was told that her application had been rejected. It was rejected because she had not entered her middle name in the online Given Name box. I asked if it could be entered by hand (no), by the visa chap (no), by my sister returning to the online system (no). She would have to start again at the beginning.
I pointed out that the form, a copy of which I had in my hand, said, definitely, Given Name – in the singular, and not Given Names or even Given Name(s). But that didn’t work. My sister has to start at the beginning of the (lengthy) process, and I will need to attend the visa office for her second attempt. And she may (we don’t yet know for sure) need to pay a second processing fee.
My sister has since pointed out that passports actually have:
i.e. in the plural, as their heading, making it logical for her to have entered only one given name in her application. But we all know that you cannot win against bureaucracy.
Whether she has to pay a second application fee may boil down to what the definition of ‘s’ is.
The girl in the bank, as she was rebooting for the third time in her attempts to get my middle name into their rather stubborn system, told me about her friend’s husband. He was born in the east but has lived all his life in the UK. He only holds a UK passport, not a dual nationality passport. Her friend and husband had been planning to visit the east to see where his ancestors came from. But the husband could find no official records of his birth place. They therefore wouldn’t give him a visa to visit the country of his birth.
No, you can’t beat beat bureaucracy.
My son Jamie is currently stuck in Ghana. He’s supposed to be in Ethiopia, but is having ‘visa problems’.