Saturday, August 1, 2009

Then Vs Now

This is a tale of two interactions with a bank. Both involved the same customer (me) and sort of the same bank. Marine Midland Bank, then based in Buffalo, NY was subsequently gobbled up by HSBC, which I believe is headquartered in Hong Kong.

The first interaction took place at three AM Buffalo time in February of 1993, when yours truly telephoned them to advise that his credit card (and money) had been stolen in Madrid and I was now without funds in Lisbon, Portugal, and what could they do about it.

Within a very few hours, I had a pocketfull of Escudos from a bank two blocks from my hotel and a new credit card with the old one blocked. To this day I am still grateful to Ruby for her swift action, because I got off the phone almost totally relieved, with funds to eat and to get home.

The more recent interaction was this morning, as it is the first of the month and bill-paying day. The NY Post office has not covered itself with glory in forwarding my mail to me; in fact only three out of five important bills managed to find their way to Dixie.

One of the missing bills is from HSBC, and I needed to know the date and amount of next payment due and the account number (sixteen easy-to-remember digits).

For my security, they refused to tell me the account number, although it ran up a five dollar cell phone bill while they decided this...fifty minutes of listening to really horrid screechy techno-'music'.

Any wonder I keep using and using the word "dysfunctional" to describe more and more of our society today?