Friday, June 6, 2008

Ladders, banks and haircuts...

I'm sure it's not every day you here those words used in the same sentence, but that was my Thursday.

Yesterday was more than another day of just decorating our condo, as I finally (hopefully) managed to sort out my HSBC American bank account in downtown L.A.
Jason in Hollywood does decorating...
As regular blog visitors will know, I've had all kinds of problems setting up a new American bank account through HSBC. I chose the bank through a sense of loyalty and convenience as it was my bank in UK, but through a series of errors and complications with us living temporarily in Burbank, it's only three months later that the end may be in sight.

So armed with some correspondence with my new West Hollywood address and every form of identification I could muster, I headed Downtown to sort things out.

It would have been hilarious if it wasn't so frustrating. Picture this, I stood at the cashiers desk and explained I needed to speak to someone about changing my address and getting my debit card and cheque book delivered, plus my online banking set up. The branch was almost empty and this was at about 1.50pm in the afternoon. The cashier tried to give me a form to fill in for the 'simple' change of address, but I'd already explained that their 'customer care' hotline had told me to come into my local branch to speak to someone to rectify the situation, not simply fill in a form.

She picked up her phone and called the only Manager sitting at a desk and right in front of me explained the situation to him, as if I wasn't there, saying things like "yes, I've explained to him"..."no he wants to speak to someone"..."yes I've already told him that". It was hysterical, especially given the fact this guy clearly wasn't busy (we could see him and you could hear the tumbleweeds drifting by), and a simple form wasn't going to solve my problem.

Anyway, he deigned to see me and I tried to explain the situation to him - he soon realised that I wasn't going away without sorting everything out. The funniest thing was that even after I'd outlined everything for him he still didn't really get it. For example, I explained to him that I'd been told by the person on the hotline that my card had been returned and was being held back with HSBC, about ten minutes later he came to the same conclusion and proudly announced my card was in fact in their possession - I know I already told you that you fool!

Anyway, after updating my address and ordering my cheque book and online banking details (which frustratingly hadn't even been processed from our last visit) I was told I'd need to wait around seven to ten days for everything.

The account is a 'Free' checking account and I knew that after three months without any transactions I would start being charged for it, so I just wanted to check when I'd need to make a transaction to stop this from happening and adding insult to injury. Not surprising at all, I did indeed have to make a transaction in the next day or two, otherwise I would be charged and so I couldn't afford to wait for the seven to ten days - I can't tell you how long that little gem took to sink in with my oblivious 'Personal Banker'. Anyway, cheque deposited I left the branch bemused and wildly irritated.

The whole experience had felt like I'd been transported back in time, when paper forms needed to be filled out in triplicate, then passed to the next person to rubber stamp, then to the next in line to stick in an envelope, then to the next to lick the stamp and so on into infinity. Basically I think banks are like dinosaurs and still stuck in the past. HSBC needs to drop its 'The world's local bank' slogan and come up with something more appropriate like 'Computer says no!' At least it's still not trying to pass itself off as 'The listening bank' like it used to be when it was the Midland Bank in the UK. Rant over I promise.

As I mentioned above I also got a haircut in Beverly Hills and in the infamous 90210 zip code - finally some much needed glamour. Did I mention I drove there? I rewarded myself with a Green Tea Frappuccino, then whizzed back home to paint the ceiling in our bedroom as the evening light started to fade. So basically yesterday was all go.

Today, no rest for the wicked and I'm just taking a break from rollering the bedroom walls. Why all the hurry with the decorating I hear you ask? Well we're getting the nursery ready for when the puppy arrives! We're picking him up next weekend when we get back from New York - our very own Andrex puppy, Golden not Chocolate, but still adorable no doubt.

Right then, back up that ladder for more fun times...

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