Internet banking is designed to enrage

The arcane rules of our new bank seem to be designed not for our security, but to prevent us managing our account on-line and to raise my blood pressure to explosion point.  The first three months of the new account were one long nightmare.  The call centre staff were charming, but adamant that everything must be changed each time because I had compromised security.  There are only so many passwords that I can remember, and I used them all up in the first couple of weeks.

Then I sent a poem to the bank’s big chief which produced miraculous results a budding friendship and a month of problem-free banking.  Until today:  I could not log on to our current account.  Three times I filled in all the boxes from the typed sheet of instructions I had been using successfully for the last month .  Each time it told me “wrong password”  and then no more chances.

Here’s what I sent to the boss.

O grand panjandrum of xyz bank
This aged crone has a bone to pick.
From proud new clients the recent span
to disillusionment was quick.

For no good reason that I can fathom,
your security systems have dug a chasm
‘twixt me and my money.
my heart is in spasm.

Each time I endeavour on the net,
my current account to connect,
The only answer that I get.
is “for security reasons we’ve had to temporarily suspend your access to the above service because your password and/or memorable information were
entered incorrectly several times.”

The same is true for telephone banking –
letters which tell me I need a spanking
for making mistakes – in a file inches thick.
Cut off from my money, I’m feeling sick.
It seems my password is compromised:
I must fill in a form to change it.

So often has the password been changed
plus chunks of memorable information
I haven’t an inkling which one is arranged.
I’m sick of all this confrontation.

Now old I may be, but not stupid, you see
I’ve been banking online with banks foreign and British
for many long years, without a hitch.
Their systems were simple to use yet risk-free.

No opaque complexities like yours were seen.
I was in and out in a jiffy,
to check several accounts on one screen.
make transfers, draw cash, nothing iffy.

Your telephone handlers are delightful
but the system is utterly frightful.
To change a password one must be transferred
to someone else who inferred
that the first who’d answered is deceitful.

Before the rigmarole is done,
the line’s timed out and the object defeated
before everything could be repeated.
I phone again, in resignation
but the nice guy Nick – or Jamie – or whoever
was supposed to be my destination
is gone for ever.

I give up. Please find me a way
we can manage each paltry pension,
for daily access without contention
or such unlawful hindrances
to the handling of our finances.
Both accounts together, please, would be fine,
same way by phone as those on-line.

The only future that I can see
on this occasion is that you phone me,
grovel and take effective action.

 So I telephone, more in sorrow than in anger, and come up against the same adamant refusal to accept these same details.  


PS This morning when we went up to the market, we discovered that a chimney had fallen off the mairie (Town Hall) and crashed through the roof of the Post Office next door. So the Post Office has de-camped to the Maison Cantonale (district HQ) where all is chaos.

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All poetry, prose and pictures posted here, except where otherwise stated, is my own, and may only be used elsewhere with my expressed permission. Please don't be inhibited from correcting my bloopers and making suggestions: Most of what I post here is instant, ill-considered and off-the-cuff, in serious need of editing.
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25 Responses to 6-WORD-SATURDAY

  1. Alice Keys says:

    It must be a French bank account. We’re leaving the country this week.

    I can’t find out how to take out the money and close the account. They want me to drive to the town where I opened the account (eight hours north) to make an appointment with a counselor. No one will talk to me at any branch in person or through the secure on-line (inside my passworded account) email system.So I’ve written a letter to eight-hours-north in the hope that someone will respond to me by email. I don’t have an in country mailing address any more. ((SIGH))

    Save me from French banking practices. There’s so much “security” that I can only put money in and can’t take it out except 300 euros a week through an in-country teller machine. The checks say they’re only good in France as well.

    Thanks for triggering a rant. 🙂
    Adios for now.


    • Which bank? Of course you can take money out – ask for an international transfer in whatever currency you want, in the branch you are using, and leap about and shout until they do it. BE FIRM I have been looking after paying final bills and closing the account of a friend who’s gone back to UK. After the odd hiccup, like a late water bill, all is now clear and the balance has crossed the channel!


      • Alice Keys says:

        Ah. That’s the rub. I have to be AT “the branch I’m using” where I opened the account. I was told that’s the only “branch” I’m allowed to use unless I move the account to another “branch”. Really.

        I tried while in La Londe. No one at that “branch” of Soc.Gen. would talk to me because my account is “located” in Perros-Guirec. They wanted me to have a new local address and “move my account” to their “branch” before they’d talk to me. I tried several times and couldn’t get past the front desk lady. They were only willing to make an appointment in a week to talk to me about moving my money to them

        I couldn’t get, don’t have and won’t have a new address in France. I wouldn’t drive twelve hours north to visit “my bank”.

        They’re not “branches”. Besides shared teller machines, it seems like they are not the same bank.

        I’m in a hotel in Toulouse waiting to fly out in a few days. The car is sold. I’m not there. I can’t go there. I can’t even drive around town looking for another branch to create a storm in at this point.

        I mailed the check from selling the car this weekend. I hope they’ll deposit it without me being there. And the property owner has two months to refund my deposit on the house we rented (the one that flooded). He’ll only deposit in a French bank OR mail a check to a French address.

        After this? I don’t know. Perhaps I’ll need to fly back from the U.S. so I can pry my money back out of the bank in Perros-Guirec. To get put my money in, all I had to do was hand them a U.S. check. This is one more thing I wish I’d known at the onset.

        I’m now certain that I’m constitutionally unsuited for life in France. I’m too used to things making sense.

        Sorry to rant here. Edit as you see fit.



        • I don’t think they can do that. You could try calling in a huissier de justice – it doesn’t cost much and they act quickly and fairly. We had a problem with the man who sold us the land for our previous house – and it was urgent, as we couldn’t get an electricity supply. The huissier came the same day, went to see the man and got the result we needed there and then.

          Is it a language problem? Could you find a bi-lingual French person to go for you and sort it out?
          Société Generale is a national, indeed international orgaisation, and cannot claim to be “separate branches”

          Bon courage.


          • Alice Keys says:

            I have not been able to get anyone at any “branch” other than the one I opened my account to talk to me or do anything more than let me use the teller machine to withdraw cash. Even that has not always gone well.

            Yes, they should be a national bank. But they just do not act like one.

            Today, I “insisted” (as you suggested) at the only branch I can walk to n Blagnac. It was ugly. I refused to move out of the way till she took care of my business.

            She told me over and over that I had to go to see “my counselor” at “my branch” to do business. “You have no counselor here,” she kept saying.

            I had to read the sign by their door to her in front of a long line of waiting customers. There’s an advertisement for their bank that says something like you have the right to resolution of problems, they will make a speedy transfer of money and can do business when and where you are.

            I just stayed put. She finally called “my counselor”.

            Even after she called “my branch” and got “permission” to do the wire transfer, I was still sent away without doing the wire transfer. She claimed I needed a code number that I didn’t have.

            Later, I called “my branch” from home for this number. I was told the number they wanted was “optional” for international wire transfers. She said I can go to any branch I want and do business and to make them call her if they won’t.

            At this point, I don’t trust them not to screw it up. Whether intentional or incompetence or lazy, a screw up will screw me up.

            I’m in a town waiting at an airport hotel. I don’t know anyone bilingual to throw at them. I don’t have a car. I don’t know what a huissier is or where to rent one. But if it explodes, I’ll take a taxi for it (joke).

            I emailed my American bank. They answered right away. They’re willing to accept my French checks at that end if I don’t mind waiting two weeks to clear them. I will handle getting my money out of this farce that calls themselves a bank from the American end.

            Thanks for your moral support. Your heart is stronger than mine if you can handle this kind of stuff.

            All the best.


            • Jock always says I am two feet off the floor when dealing with this kind of jobsworth nincompoopery! A euro cheque will at least get you your money in the end. A huissier de justice is a kind of arbitrator-cum-lawyer, and very useful they are too (if you look in Yellow Pages under Huissier…..)


              • Alice Keys says:

                I keep my husband with me as the anchor so I don’t bounce off the ceiling or use the nasty hand gesture I picked up here. I keep it to heaving, sighing and eye rolling.;-)

                There’s something about the need to hire legal counsel to make a simple wire transfer from my bank account at my bank that rubs me the wrong way.

                And an explosive device just sounds so much more satisfying than paid legal recourse at this point. I suppose I’m simply too American. 😉

                Yes. My American bank says they will make something work. I’ve found this is one essential difference between America and France. Americans will make something work. The French just make work.

                I’m so not cut out for this.

                Writing helps. Thanks for all your support. 🙂


  2. Tonya says:

    I am so sorry you are having issues. As someone who manages 14 different online bank accounts and three credit card accounts over five different banks I can totally relate. None have the same password and only one of them have decent phone help. If your (awesome!) letter does not get you a phone call I would go up the chain to the bank President, you should not keep having the same problems over and over and the issue needs fast fixing! Wishing you the best of luck.


  3. Mlissabeth says:

    Any kind of banking makes me nervous. I hope it ends up well!


  4. Kathe W. says:

    OH you are so spot on about online banking…very annoying. They change a perfectly good web site and load it up with pop-up ads that distract and prevent me from easy tasks…grrr
    Enjoy your weekend even with all the annoyances!


  5. cecilia says:

    Sigh.. back to old fashioned banking.. passwords that are right but not accepted by the system and deeply aggravating, cool idea to write a poem too! c


  6. Judy says:

    My big question is “Why do we have to pay the banks to keep our money?” They should be paying us, yet every transaction has a charge. Love your poem.


  7. Ron. says:

    Been there, done that. No, wait. Am there, doing that.


  8. judyt54 says:

    i refuse to adhere to the common practice of ‘remembering’ passwords. I write em down and store them on Word in a folder called, erm, “passwords”. That way as long as I remember where the folder is, im good to go. One of the many reasons I dislike online banking, is the incredibly paranoiidal level of security they hand you.

    Good poem, btw. That should get someone’s attention =)


  9. Karen S. says:

    I think with a poem like that you should have been made head marketeer’chief designer for the entire bank. I think perhaps that you may need to find another bank? I know we’ve been lucky with ours, so far anyway, and all systems are a go but I have heard about nightmares such as this. It’s so different now, I once worked at a bank, when the computers just began coming to life, and gee whiz that was quite a nightmare starting out. I thought at first when you began speaking about the town hall chimney that you were going to say it fell on the bank! I hope all is well soon and that no one was hurt!


  10. bookmammal says:

    Power To The Poets! 🙂


  11. restlessjo says:

    Poetry 🙂 I rest my case! (and commiserate, of course)


  12. Panjandrum – fantastic word!! I sympathise completely with your woes. We would like to change banks, but it has taken so long to get this one’s online banking sorted out and working properly, that I am loathe to try a different bank.


  13. Is it worth changing banks again? You’re having so many problems, surely it’s worth the hassle?


  14. It is such an excellent poem. I’m disappointed to hear that the problem continues. What a frustration for you!


  15. Misky says:

    Oh gosh, I know of these frustrations. This is a fabulous poem, made me smile (at your expense), well done for writing the bank!



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