Friday, July 06, 2007

Sassa Frassin fricken fracken

I'm a bit of an airmiles tart. Whilst I'm not obsessive about it, I enjoy the occasional trips that the points can subsidise. (I say subsidise, because you still get stung for landing fees).

I've had a NatWest airmiles credit card for a couple of years but recently NatWest decided to part company with the Airmiles Company and start up their own scheme This happened pretty much automatically, but Lloyds TSB also wrote to me offering their new card, or more accurately- pair of cards. Their Duo scheme has both an Amex and a Mastercard associated with the account and the Amex racks up the airmiles much more quickly (twice as fas as the other card). There is a sting in the tail however, as after six months the Mastercard earnings fall to one fifth which is somewhat poor in the points earning stakes.

In the UK, Mastercard and Visa are widely accepted and I havent seen anywhere for decades that takes one and not the other. American Express is somewhat less common (but the major High Street chains accept it as well as most hotels) and Diners Club is something of a rare breed.

Now, my nice shiny Duo cards turned up when expected, but Karen's did not. At first, I thought it might be triggered by activation/first use of my card but it stubbornly refused to come. I eventually contacted customer services, or more accurately tried several times, getting fed up with long waits and repeated announcements valuing my patience at "this busy time". "This busy time" seemed to be any time of the day within their opening hours, however! I also rang other numbers regarding internet access and direct debit, encountering the same quality of service- frustratingly poor, with long holding times costing me money on 0870 numbers. (I never got answered more quickly than eight minutes).

When I did ebventually get through the call handlers were very good but they were convinced I hadn't requested a second card (not that they had the forms, of course) and so arranged for more forms to be sent. This resulted in three letters, two of which were for the same purpose but phrased in a different order. The Bank also wanted some address ID for Karen, giving a list of acceptable items that it was not possible for us to fully comply with. (The main utility bills are not in her name, for example).

We cobbled together what we thought would hopefully be acceptable to them but I took the trouble to also let them know that I wasn't very happy and stuck all the forms in the pre-paid envelope (& put the ones that needed stamps in the recycle bin).

If they still aren't happy then we won't bother and just stick with the Nat West cards. Having said that, they aren't that good either.

(The title is what Muttley the dog used to mutter when he wasn't happy)

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