Saturday, 11 August 2007

Independent Orkney

Listening to: Evergreen (Echo and the Bunnymen)
Reading: Farmers Weekly
Drinking: Dragonhead stout
RIP: Tony Wilson

I usually leave the rants to my old pal and occasional partner in crime Reg, but you couldn't make this up.

Lloyds Bank have decide that Orkney is 'outside the UK'. They've also decided to withdraw my right to spend my own money.

A couple of days ago, on a trip to Kirkwall, I wandered into the Orkney Ferries office to buy a book of tickets for the car. Everything was fine until I put my PIN into the machine. I knew it was right, I feel sure Lloyds knew it was right, but it rejected it three times. Very embarrassing.

Staff behind the counter were very nice about it, assuring me that they would send the tickets on when I had things sorted out.

I rang 'customer services' from the ferry on the way back to Westray and was handed on to the fraud department because my attempted transaction had been 'unusual' in that I had tried to use my card 'outside the UK'.

I patiently explained the political situation regarding the Orkneys, stressing that the King of Norway had shown no sign of reclaiming the islands and that Argentina's interests ended with the Falklands.

I was then told that I could easily sort the problem out by trotting down to my nearest ATM (cash machine) and unlocking my PIN. Fine, I said, but that involves me getting back on the ferry, doing the hour-and-a-half journey back to Kirkwall at a cost of £13 return - something I hadn't planned on doing for two or three weeks.

"It's OK, you just go to your nearest ATM," the nitwit on the other end of the line twittered again. "No, no, no. I live on an island and there is no ATM. Fresh air, beautiful beaches, peace of mind, diverse wildlife, but no, I repeat no, ATM," I interrupted.

That blew the tiny mind at the call centre. Not to be within 100 yards of an ATM seemed an appalling prospect - how on Earth do we stock up on Bacardi Breezers?

I gave up and yesterday wasted a day travelling into Kirkwall to spend half-an-hour sorting the mess out.

Of course, it could all have been avoided if the staff at my branch in Shrewsbury had handled it. They've known for ages that I was planning to move north as I actually took the trouble to go in and discuss the implications with them. It's a far cry from the days when I opened the account as a 17-year-old and had to go into a wood-panelled office to be interviewed by the manager (who also happened to be a drinking pal of my dad's) and warned of the dire consequences of being overdrawn (tarring and feathering in those days, I think).

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