I am normally a fairly laid back individual and try to be pleasant to staff who serve me in shops, taking the time to thank them and even exchanging pleasantries, but yesterday I was frustrated beyond measure and I fear that I let it show. We have been handling Mum’s estate, letting people know that she has died by sending out original death certificates since the start of June, so I am used to saying the words now over the telephone without getting upset. I called a bank about an investment that Mum had and they asked me to send a death certificate and a ‘certified’ copy of my ID. I had not come across that before so queried what it was and was told that a copy of my passport had to be verified by a solicitor, accountant or bank branch, and this is the first time in 3 months that I have been asked to produce it. I huffed and puffed as I do not have a local solicitor or accountant and our local bank branch has been closed – like many others – so this felt like an unreasonable request from the outset.
I hatched a plan and took my passport to work, where I photocopied it and I drove to my bank branch during my lunch hour – as it does not open until 9 and closes at 4.30 so is not conducive to someone who works and lives in a rural location. It took my 25 minutes to drive there and park, so I dashed to the branch where I was relieved to see there was only one other customer at the counter, no queue. But they were chatting about holidays and seemed not to see me waiting and pacing as they continued their conversation, but finally they stopped and it was my turn :
I explained to the lady behind the counter that I needed her to certify my passport and explained why I needed it. She asked for my ‘paperwork’ and I told her that I had only brought my passport, as the death certificate was too precious to carry around. Most professionals in this situation have offered me their condolences, but not this lady, she dug her heels in and said that I needed to show her my paperwork to prove how I was going to use her certified copy of ID. She stubbornly insisted that it was ‘policy’ as otherwise I could use that copy for another purpose for which it was not intended. I said through gritted teeth that she was only agreeing that my passport picture was indeed myself, so I could not do too much illegal activity with it, and I confirmed that I had not brought the death certificate with me. She repeated her refusal to help and was not in the least bit concerned that I had taken more than my lunch hour to drive to the branch , just for this purpose and now it had been a wasted trip, that I was going to have to make it again another day. I thanked her for her lack of help and compassion and left the branch, seething.
I am sure that these policies are created against fraud and for my own protection ultimately, but I was so frustrated that she could not, or would not, see my perspective and be flexible enough to comply with my request. I will try again today and hope that she is not serving. I was probably the difficult customer that she complained about to her colleagues and family yesterday ,but she was certainly the person that I ranted about to my colleagues and family too. Perhaps in my bereaved state I have a shorter fuse than usual, I am certainly more emotional than is normal, but she was unsympathetic to my plight. I will return another day this week, with my calm, smiling face on and try again.