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Sorry for the wait

We’ll get you to our customer service team as quickly as we can

Don’t you just love call centres? If you’re not listening to some really crackly piece of obscure ‘muzak’ then it’s somebody telling you how important your call is to them so thank you for holding because ‘all of our customer services operators are busy at the moment’.


I just recently had the delightful experience of wasting an hour trying to get a problem with a debit card sorted out. It all started with a trip to the bank. Perhaps I shouldn’t name it but for the sake of argument let’s call it Westpac, but keep that to yourself eh? Their machine politely declined my debit card. Not your common and garden ATM but a teller-operated machine no less. Why I was inside the bank and not using an ATM is a long story. I shan’t bore you with it but think daily ATM limit and large bill to pay. Disappointed, always in love and these days financially as well, I wended my less than merry way back to el barco to make a Skype call.


After calling the number that I had previously successfully used, I listened to a catchy little number that reminded me of  Jimmy Shand and his Band playing at the bottom of a bucket (remember watching Hogmanay at the White Heather Club aeons ago on the Beeb? If parents today subjected their children to that they’d be up in court) . After a mere fourteen minutes, is this a speed record,  I got through to find that the number I had listed now didn’t deal with offshore accounts. I was transferred to the allegedly correct department and after a further twenty minutes listening to series of grovelling apologies every two and a half minutes and something that I was totally unable to identify, I spoke to a customer services person. This person was also unable to access my account but she knew a man who could. Or not, I’ll never know because the Vodafone dongle dropped the Skype call.


Putting  the sum total of my cash in hand, on my mobile, F$15 , I tried again. Foolishly I dialed the number that was on the back of the card thinking that, well not really thinking but assuming that the number on the back of the card might be the correct one to call. We all know what they say about assume, makes an ASS of U & ME. I talked to two very charming people in two other departments who couldn’t help me either. There was a suggestion that I could call my bank direct but of course due to the time difference that would have to wait until tonight. Not a lot of help and I know from experience that the good old St Peter Port branch can’t help with debit card problems.


Not being able to get any money meant that I couldn’t refuel the boat. The club were unwilling to let me leave the marina and go across to the anchorage without paying (this after being here eighteen months and paying on time) despite my claims of immanent insanity if I didn’t get the hell out of the marina but to be fair they ‘stopped the clock’. I’m sitting here for free. I did manage to get another number off the bank’s website. Skype didn’t drop offline and I found out that it was in fact the right number and there was nothing wrong with my card. Great!


Unwilling to amuse myself with another hours walk I used a nearby ATM. This meant that I couldn’t withdraw enough to settle the marina bill. Never mind, the electrician had by now ‘almost finished’ and would need paying. Despite the fact that the three-day job took him three weeks to complete (I kid you not) he didn’t reduce his estimate. If anything he gave the impression that he was doing me a favour, I feel the emphasis was on ‘doing’ but never mind, this is Fiji so I’m lucky the job was finished at all. The bill for materials was almost as much as the labour charges but I did see all the receipts. As a gesture, he didn’t charge me for charging a battery. As a return gesture I decided to forgo the F$1.67 change from F$700 and made him carry the battery from his car to the boat. Well he is twenty- five years younger than I am, so sod it.


I would tell you about yet more problems with my pension payment but that has perhaps been resolved. Oh, all right then. Get this. There wasn’t enough money in the cash account (I have a SIPP) to pay this month’s derisory pension in full. Rather than email the financial adviser who set it all up or myself, they simply paid out what was in the account. A couple of frantic emails sorted it out. Not that they admitted any fault of course, unless you count making an interest-free loan to cover the payment whilst ‘something is sold’ to cover the loan. Hmm, not had this particular problem before but doubtless it’ll rear it’s ugly head again.


So, more struggles with the ATM/bank tomorrow, a bit of non-combative shopping and  then on Sunday refueling and over to Tradewinds anchorage. Just the autopilot pump to sort out which apparently is en-route from Raymarine to the discount dealer and that’ll be me leaving Fiji. Frankly my dears, I can’t wait.




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