Increasingly, I find myself wondering how on earth we ever get any business done.If it isn't regulatory hurdles that disrupt the previously smooth flow of business, then it is product providers tying themselves up in knots as they strive to demonstrate super-compliance with the afore-mentioned hurdle-makers.
Do you need an answer to a quick question about why some paperwork has not arrived? Try phoning and working your way through a multiple-choice button-punching session if you would like to test your heart muscles. There is nothing like a good workout when you have resolved to have a calm day chasing up a few loose ends.
Take mortgages, for instance, Three years ago, I negotiated three mortgages using Legal & General which had a particularly good three-year rate on offer. Three years later, the bank is jettisoning its book to Northern Rock. The mortgage processing centre has moved from Cardiff to Sunderland and phone staff have to be specially qualified to talk to IFAs. But that's not all. Before you discover all the changes I have mentioned above, you have to hear the messages.
L&G tells you how it is a mortgage provider, what categories of mortgage service it is able to provide and the type of category you will be offered and then it invites you to parti-cipate in the button-punching game. When you reach your destination, you discover that the person whom you have been channelled to is not qualified to talk to IFAs and someone will call me back.
Three days later, as you wonder whether you have been the victims of another takeover or merger, you can revisit the assault course and test your nerves again.
I wrote to L&G's managing director which produced two letters in return. Each one is from a different consultant. Each one assures me that “my complaint” will be vigorously investigated and rues the dissatisfaction that my clients have experienced with (wait for it) Northern Rock. However, they both offer a phone number inviting me to please call if I want to discuss matters. At last.
I punch in the number on the first letter. There are no disembodied bodies offering me number-punching options but there is no answer either.
I try the other number and this one works. The consultant answers. I start to introduce myself but: “Can I have the reference number, please”, she says sweetly. I give it and she says: “This is in the name of Mr Brown, not Mr Lomas.”
“Excuse me”, I say, “My name is Lopez, not Lomas and I am ringing you because you asked me to when you wrote to me. Perhaps you would like a little time to refer to your letter and the reason you wrote to me and then call me back?” What a bad error that was. Two days have gone by and I am still waiting. I have written to the MD again. What a game.
Capital Financial Services,