I needed to talk to Barclaycard recently, to clear up a minor matter, involving a payment of £5. It turned out to be surprisingly difficult, but I have learned some useful things.
1. When you call them, you get to talk to a robot, which has it's own script, and you have to follow it before you can get to where you want to. And then you get a menu of several choices, and you need to choose one of those.
No, you don't. Press 6 and you're talking to a human. Or so they told me.
Not quite true. I tried it, and spent 15 minutes trying to talk to the person I talked to last. Their robot took my card number, and my age and home phone number. Then I spoke to Rajish, who needed to take the same info again, because (he said) their robot didn't pass that over to them. So then I asked to speak to Richard Moir (he's in the Complaints Department, and is wonderfully patient and polite, ideally suited to the position he's in), and he said I couldn't. And after a bit of discussion, he said I could. Hold music. More hold music. While this hold music is playing, I'll tell you the other two things.
2. They'll tell you their first name, but not their last name. Jasmine wouldn't even tell me what department she worked for. But you can ask for their company number. For example, Ashish is BEUXAK7, Sumit is BEUSXT4. Rajish is 9570. I like to take the names of people I speak to, because so often I get asked "Who did you speak to before".
3. When you're sitting quietly having a cup of tea, and the phone rings, and someone claims to be from Barclays and wants you to give them personal information so that they can verify you - how do you know that it really was Barclays? Answer - you don't. It might be someone naughy, fishing for your ID info. So, what you can do, is get their name and ID number and call them back, but not on a number they give you (obviously), but on the number which is on your credit card, because you *know* that's this number really is Barclays.
Or, you can have a pre-agreed password with Barclays, set up at a time when you're certain that you really are talking to them (for example, you called the number on your card). And then, when they call you, they have to give that password before you'll go through their identification procedure.
I set this up. But when Richard Moir called me, he refused to give it until I'd been through their ID procedure, which rather begs the whole point of the password.
So I insisted. I made it clear that we weren't going any further with the call (he'd called me) until he gave me that password. And eventually, he gave in. And from now on, that password will be used each time they call me. Problem solved.
More hold music. Meanwhile, I'm still trying out calling Richard Moir. It's been 20 minutes now, and I think I'm going to hang up, or I'll be late for my hip appointment.
So I hung up, and went to get my hip seen to. The clinic was in Aylesbury, and after driving round the roundabouts a bit, I found it, and parked in the station car park. The pay-and-display machine said "fees according to the notice", but there is no notice. So I tried giving it £1, £2 and £3, pressed the button for a ticket, and each time got my money back. So I gave up, and just parked, hoping that their pay-and-display inspectors are as dilatory as their machines.
I saw a very nice Dr Griffiths, who thinks it's probably tendonitis rather than bursitis (the symptoms are very similar). And he thinks I should have an ultrasound scan before he applies a needle; it's better to treat the exact position than get approximately near to it. So we set up an appointment at Stoke Mandeville for this. He explained that this would take a month or so, and then a few more weeks before they send him the result, and then I could make an apppointment to see him again and that it was entirely possible that by the time all this has happened, my hip would have sorted itself out.
Two more months. Hmph. This has already been going on for seven months, of which the last two I've been trying to see if I can get treatment for it, and it's about as bad now as ever.
So we discussed "going private". Same service, but a lot quicker.
I do think the NHS is wonderful, and entirely suitable for many purposes, but as far as my hip is concerned, it's been two months since I decided to seek treatment, and all I've had so far is a diagnosis by a physiotherapist who recommended stretching exercises, and a referral by another physio to Dr Griffiths. My hip isn't a big problem - it's one I can live with. It doesn't hurt if I'm sitting or lying. But when I go out walking, it does hurt, and I like going out geocaching, and I really do need the exercise. So, I'm "going private".
Some excellent news, though. Dr Griffiths told me that I won't make things worse by going out walking! And more good news - Richard Moir offered me £10 as compensation, which I accepted (although when he offered me a second £10 I refused, I'm not sure why, maybe I felt I didn't deserve it).