If you read last week’s musings, you may remember how I described my gut feeling that due to the huge upgrade switchover being planned by my broadband provider, Three Broadband, what I was writing may never see the light of day.

I went on to describe the chaotic and energy-sapping build-up to this massive switchover, with yours truly cynically doubting the Three Broadband mantra: Just Plug In The Router And Go!

On the big switchover day, I plugged in the new router – And Went!!  Oh ye of little faith!

Huge helpings of humble pie were devoured as the biggest bouquet congratulating Three Broadband was being sent through the airwaves by Etherflora.

With my broadband working well, at 9.45 am last Tuesday (uncharacteristically late for reasons to be revealed) ‘Life in Laytonia’ 13 went up.

At 3.45 pm, barely 6 hours later, with poetic irony, my broadband went down. 

Internet, email, broadband, wi-fi, Google, life as I know it – gone!  You couldn’t write it, could you? 

But that’s exactly what I am doing.

It had all started on Monday morning.  Trying to add some apposite photographs, I was having difficulty uploading, downloading, posting, going live, whatever you call it.  

I was determined, however, to show Ferdy, the Tech Man that I can go it alone.  Clearly, I can’t.

Then came the first of the week’s distractions.  A telephone call from the bank.

Whatever grumps, gripes, grumbles, moans and rants, I inflict on you – especially rants – I always try and do it with humour, maybe bring a smile to brighten your day and basically make you realize that there are people worse off than you.  Namely, me!

But when the bank tells me that some low-life has managed to filch a considerable sum of hard-earned dosh from my current account, it is a challenge to temper a rant with my customary self-deprecating quirky view on life. 

Especially when the numpty I had spoken to at the NatWest a few days earlier, after receiving 2 texts, could have stopped the whole thing happening.

Texts:

Your debit card for a/c ending *** will arrive within 5 working days.

If not expected contact us urgently.

Your debit card PIN has been ordered as requested by you

and should arrive in 2-3 working days.

Not expecting a new PIN? Please contact us urgently.

I wasn’t expecting either a new debit card nor had I requested a new PIN.  Using the telephone number on the debit card in my possession, ‘I contacted them urgently’. 

I have to tell you that there is no way that one can ‘contact them urgently’. 

With my stomach churning and feeling very anxious, I spend the next 10 or 15 minutes, barking bad-tempered replies to a recorded menu of options, none of which pertain to the bank’s instruction ‘to contact them urgently if I am not expecting the new debit card and PIN’.

After an interminable series of ‘if the answer is Yes, press 1, if the answer is No, press 2’ commands, I hear the welcome message that I am being connected to an advisor.  Phew!

If I was of a cynical nature, I might think that this premium rate 0345 number at 9 pence a minute to ‘contact the bank urgently’, is intentionally protracted in order to supplement the bank’s coffers.  Those who regularly follow my musings/rants know of course, that this is not the case.

Eventually (big sigh) I am talking to a Natwest representative who asks if I would prefer to be addressed as George or Mr. Layton.  As if I care!  I just want to tell him about the card and PIN that I didn’t request.

‘First, George, we have to go through some security questions.’

Fine. That’s good.  Can’t have too much security with all this bank fraud around.  I pass all the questions asked and I tell him about the texts.  I also add that I am not expecting a new card or PIN.

‘Well, George, your debit card has been cancelled.  A new one been sent out to your home address.’

‘I didn’t cancel it.’

‘Are you sure, George?  Maybe you cancelled it by accident?’

I am aware that from my file, this perspicacious bank employee knows my age.  It is clear that he thinks he is dealing with some dotty old man.  As this telephone conversation progresses, I think you will come to the same conclusion.

Dotty Old Man‘I think I’d remember if I’d have cancelled my own debit card’.

Hollow laugh from Numpty, which will become my name for this helpful NatWest employee as events develop.

Numpty‘Oh, you’d be surprised, George.  Happens all the time.  Did you log into your online banking yesterday?

I had logged into my online banking.  I’d had to check a couple of payments.

Dotty Old Man: Yes, I did.

Numpty: ‘Ah, there you are, George.  You’ve probably cancelled it by accident.  Happens all the time.’ 

There are now two numpties in this tale: NatWest Numpty and Even Bigger Numpty – me! 

I cannot believe what I said next:

Even Bigger Numpty/Dotty Old Man‘Well, I don’t remember cancelling my card, but I suppose I could have done…’ 

Numpty:  ‘As I say, George, happens all the time.  No worries, there’s a new one winging it’s way to your address.  Your new PIN will come separately.  Anything else I can help you with?’

Anything else he can “help” me with? 

Hindsight is a wonderful thing but surely the moment the account holder reports that he has not requested a card and not requested new PIN, shouldn’t alarm bells have rung? 

Should it not have occurred to Numpty that something smelt fishy here?  Shouldn’t he have immediately cancelled the new card and PIN that was ‘winging’ its way to my address?

Worse.  How did Even Bigger Numpty/Dotty Old Man manage to be persuaded that he had accidentally cancelled his own debit card?  I’ll tell you how – because he’s a dotty old numpty!!

Back now to Monday morning when I’m trying to upload/download last week’s ‘Life in Laytonia’.  

I get the telephone call from the NatWest Bank.  Fraud Department.  The new card and the PIN, sent separately, have been intercepted and the money has been withdrawn.  Thank you very much.  Job done. 

Whilst the assurance that the monies taken would be reimbursed was some consolation, when I asked how this could happen, the Natwest response was ‘Do you want to file a complaint?’

‘I’m not complaining, but I would like to know how something like this could happen, especially when I telephoned to tell the bank that I wasn’t expecting a new card and PIN.’

‘So you want to file a complaint?  I’ll transfer you’.

I won’t bore you with the ensuing telephone to and fro-ing.  Suffice to say that Monday was a total write-off and without any help from me, I now have a case number with the NatWest Complaints Team.

I eventually posted ‘Life in Laytonia’ 13, complete with the High-5 to my broadband provider, Three Broadband. As you know, with almost delicious symmetry, the whole caboodle died on me at ten to four in the afternoon.

Or is it kaboodle?  No way of checking ‘cos the whole caboodle/kaboodle is as dead as the Mauritian dodo and remains so. 

Three Broadband do not answer the telephone, the closest I have got is a ‘live chat’ on my mobile.  And my wi-fi man cannot get here until the weekend. 

Could my week get any worse?

Ping! I receive a text:

Your debit card for a/c ending *** will arrive within 5 working days.

If not expected contact us urgently.

Your debit card PIN has been ordered as requested by you

and should arrive in 2-3 working days.

Not expecting a new PIN? Please contact us urgently.