Thursday, 17 December 2009

On applying for a Career Development Loan

The snug, smug feeling of 'all's right with the world' that I woke up with this morning was clearly hubris. Or perhaps I should have just realised by now that any dealings with those providing educational finance in this country is fated to induce a serious need for wine in the unfortunate person coming up against systems that must've been designed by someone who took as a model some of Kafka's more nightmarish writings. But, at least it's good to know that it's not just Chinese banks that reduce me to a froth mouthed frustration.

And how stupid I was to think that, just because I had account with a bank for thirteen years or half my entire life, that they would actually have my details correctly. After a short verbal battle with the Indian call centre, where the fact that I had to ask the person to repeat themselves when they were asking 'what's your address' made me wonder about the definition of 'fluent English speaker' that the bank was using, I was told me the information I'd given them was wrong. But they couldn't tell me which bit of information was wrong.

So I had to walk walk the mile and half or so into town, to go and sort it out with my branch, whilst trying to suppress a mini meltdown that someone of nefarious intent had somehow hacked into my account and my overdraft was probably buying them a new plasma screen TV. The only thing 'wrong' with my information was that my home telephone number wasn't there, but as the rather astonished young man who talked to me said, they shouldn't ask you security questions about data that doesn't exist. (Why on earth no-one has put this on the system in the last thirteen years is another matter entirely.)

But, the system is mightier than mere mortal common sense.

Walking back home it started to snow. My boots started to leak. Just a little bit, but that's just a little bit more freezing water than I like inside my boots. It was one of those moments when you just want to be, like, universe are you KIDDING me?, and then feel a bit guilty because, after all, this is hardly a major disaster.

So then I phoned them back, and everything went OK, but frankly, by the end of the call I was past caring whether or not I get approved for the loan, I just want to never have to call them up again.

So then I confirmed to national stereotypes and make myself a cup of tea, confirmed to gender stereotypes and ate some chocolate, and looked out of my window at the beautiful winter sky, took some deep breaths and attempted to relax. And it's sort of worked. A glass of wine when I'm watching Supernatural later might not go amiss though.

*CDL loans are how most people finance postgraduate study, and as only two banks offer them, they can pretty much treat you as shoddily as they like.

View more relaxing skies at Skywatch Friday.


  1. I hate having to phone banks. I spent a couple of hours at the weekend trying to sort out my credit card, it was horrid, so I feel your pain :(

  2. Going the distance. Slogging on. Gritting your teeth. Self-medicating with tea. Rewarding yourself with that glass (or more) of wine at the end of the day--sounds like you've got it all sorted out. Well done. (I'm a mum, can you tell?)

  3. Dealing with banks can be frustrating but I'm glad you took the time to look out the window and snap a picture of the sky. The natural world has a way of smoothing the edges of the man-made world, including banks!

  4. Dealing with banks is not one of my favourite things to do. Great shot!

    All the best :)
    Regina In Pictures

  5. Great shot, goodluck with your application.

    My Skywatch, happy holidays.

  6. Not a pleasant expirience; but we can't do without banks... or not?

  7. Rachel - Credit card companies...eugh. As a non promotional recommendation though, I'd recommend Halifax, whenever I've had a problem they've been great sorting it out (and even randomly yabbering with the lovely Northern Irish people in their call centre). However, I suddenly realised that I haven't called them since the whole HBOS fiasco, so, hmm.. Anyway, getting way off topic...

    Louciao - Although it pretty much took a huge chunk out of my day, and zapped my energy levels I was pleased that I managed to stop it ruining my entire day. Just. (And yes! ;) )

    Stine - And today I looked out and we had a reasonable (for this part of the world) snow fall last night, so am feeling grateful it didn't snow on me that much when I was walking home yesterday.

    Dirk - I've been wondering this, after the young man in the bank I talked to subtly told me that as only two banks offer these loans then they can get away with treating people really shoddily and processing the applications in the cheapest way (Indian call centre) rather than the way most customers would prefer (face to face in branch in the UK). The trouble seems to be in Britain that there are increasingly few banks, all of whom know that the government won't let them fail and will let them treat customers abominably (e.g. at the moment incredibly low interest on savings but high interest on loans, refusal to lend to small businesses despite government backing) operating in a closed system - how on earth would anyone start a bank now?

  8. Sorry you had such a bad day. The glass of wine might help to calm you down.