When you're about 4 years of age, piggy in the middle is a fun game, but it kind of loses its lustre by the time you get to 5. At the tender age of 42, I don't ever want to play it ever again, but my bank seems to have different ideas.
When my wife asked me to make a payment to her friend - no problem, I thought. I've paid her once already, so I already had the payee details set up. In no time at all, I logged on and made the payment.
A week and a half later - my wife asked to confirm I'd made the payment. It's not unlike me to forget such things so I logged in to check. Sure enough, there was the payment. She said she would check with her friend.
Only then did her friend tell us that she had changed banks recently, so I called my bank to find out what should happen to the payment. They said that the bank with the old account should have returned the payment, but they hadn't. They told me that my
wife's friend would have to speak to her bank.
I took the opportunity to delete the now useless payee details and set up a new one with her new details and paid her the money, confident in the fact that the original payment would be returned.
When my wife's friend phoned her bank, they told her that although I had used the right sort code, my payment carried an invalid account number and wouldn't have even reached them.
I phoned my bank again and asked them to confirm the sort code and account number that the payment went to. I was astounded when the operator told me that because the payee details had been deleted, they had no way of tracing where the payment went.
Seriously? Yes - because the payment went to a bank within the same group, they don't hold the details. If it had gone to a bank out in the big wide world, they could tell you exactly where it went, but because it's between two banks in the same family -
not a chance.
So neither my bank, nor my wife's friend bank can tell us where the money is, but it is somewhere within their organisation. I will spare the bank's blushes, but let's just say that Her Majesty's Government is a major shareholder.
Can you imagine this level of service from someone like Amazon?