The following staggering tale of bureaucratic bonkerness comes from our friend ANDY STOKES who traded life on the Isle of Wight for that on the Greek island of Kalymnos...
I recently had cause to write a letter of complaint to Barclays Bank. I ended the letter by telling them to close my account and transfer the balance to my Nationwide account.
Yesterday I received a telephone call from Customer Services dept at Barclays. I was asked a number of questions for security reasons, one of which was "What was the content of your letter to us?"
Having answered the security questions to his satisfaction the conversation continued like this:
"You have asked us to transfer your balance to Nationwide; unfortunately we are unable to do that as we do not have a copy of your signature to compare with the letter."
"So what happens now?"
"What we need is a certified copy of your passport faxed to us."
"So who do I get to certify it?"
"Your bank manager in Greece."
"Do you know my bank manager in Greece?"
"Do you know who my bank manager in Greece is?"
"Do you have a copy of his signature?"
"Do you know which of the Greek banks I use?"
"So, let’s get this right. You have a letter which you accept was sent by me and I have answered your security questions so you are quite happy that you are talking to the person who sent you the letter?"
"And at the end of the letter I ask you to transfer my funds to another bank and you accept that is what I want done?"
"But you cannot transfer my money because you cannot compare my signature with the one on the letter?"
"But you will do it once you have a copy of my passport signed by a person you don’t know, have never met and whose signature you have never seen before?"
"Yes. It’s security."
"So, if I were to just photocopy my passport and send it to you with a signature that I made up you would be none the wiser?"
"Ah yes, but it has to be certified."
"With a rubber stamp from the bank."
"Do you know what the rubber stamp from my bank looks like?"
"So, if I had a rubber stamp made up you would not be in a position to check whether it was genuine or not?"
"And when you receive this faxed certified copy of my passport, what checks will you be able to make to ensure that it is genuine?"
"Well, none, really."
"So, why don’t you just transfer the money?"
"We can’t. It’s security."
Thanks, Andy, and if you ever manage to get your money out of Barclays, good luck in your negotiations with Nationwide!