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Friday, October 01, 2004 

Another Walk 'cross Waterloo Bridge

My third trip to the bank today was unsuccessful in reaching my holy grail of becoming a Londoner: obtaining The Almighty Checking Account.

Bow down you ungrateful lugs! Do not stare directly at The Beloved Checking Account, for you are not worthy, you lice infected plague ridden scum!

(This I imagine has been going on in London since the invention of money, perhaps the Romans had it all and the Britannic peasants were kept down in this fashion. Am picturing Romans kicking the peasants with their fancy laced up sandals, keeping them out of the monetary system, forcing them to trade twigs for apples, etc.)

Apparently my letter from the Accommodation Office that begins, "To who it may concern," is not appropriate, and the bank will not grant me The Exalted and Highly Unobtainable Checking Account until I return with a letter that begins, "Dear Natwest."

So back to the Accommodation Office I go. This is past the point of making me angry, and has become amusing (all that practicing Buddhist patience is really paying off!!) and I look forward to crossing Waterloo Bridge again, as it is my favorite walk with the most spectacular views I've ever seen in my life. And I always get asked to take picture of tourists with their cameras, which makes me feel like a Londoner anyway, and isn't that the whole point?

Oh its something about being a student or working in a college - you have to jump through all the APPROPRIATE hoops. Banks have always been bastards (I couldn't wait to leave my student bank) largely becaue their clerks haven't been to university and I think have a collective massive inferiority complex.

Urk! Natwest took four weeks to open up my Student Account, then were unable to process the apostrophe in my surname - but couldn't write it in without the apostrophe as that wouldn't have matched my ID. I spent two hours in the branch, watching the clerk trying repeatedly to enter my name in their 1980s-esque computer. Eventually "head office" authorised the name change.

They then would never send me any new chequebooks or cards to my college as it was apparently "too risky." They also took a week to clear any cheques, whereas my beloved Halifax kid's account managed the feat in three days. Serves me right fo having been tempted by the free £50 for opening the account. It's funny how money can cloud all reasonable judgement.

Still, at least the cash machines are free here...
Ollie

ps. Did you know Waterloo Bridge was entirely built by women, or so the legend goes?

Your first mistake was going to NatWest. I moved here 1.7 years ago (for work) & everyone went to natwest. They were such crap!!! They couldn't do anything. Then another American at the office, who had blived here for quite a while, suggested HSBC. Goodness! What a difference. Not many places in London know what the term "customer service" is, let alone what it means, but HSBC has always been great. And efficient. I suggest them any day. (and everyone in my office switched to them)

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