Does Christine W. exist or does Barclays Bank use fake names?

Following the takeover of the business of another financial institution, I found that I now have an account and card with Barclays Bank. I needed some information from them fairly urgently, so I contacted them a week or two ago.

In reply, I received a letter dated 28th November signed by a certain Christine W……

The telephone number on her letterhead was a UK 0844 number. As I had a query about the contents of her letter, not unreasonably (in my opinion) the obvious course of action was to telephone her at the number on her letter.

The person who answered the telephone said he’d never heard of her. He also told me he was unable to transfer my call to her.

When I asked why I could not speak to the person who had written me the letter, on the telephone number she had on her letterhead, he was somewhat at a loss as to how to answer. He eventually tried to tell me was “because we are globally certified”.

Whatever that means.

Eventually, after a long wait of 20 mins it was patiently explained to me by his supervisor that as they were in India, they couldn’t transfer me to the person who had written me the letter.

Nigel’s First Rule of Customer Satisfaction: Any employee who does something for a customer should have task ownership and take responsibility for the contents of their answer and should be ready to deal with any followup.

I’m now getting a nagging feeling that maybe “Christine W.” doesn’t actually exist. Perhaps they’ve taken a leaf out of the Prime Minister’s book? I intend to find out whether that’s the case or not.

If she does exist, I look forward to speaking with her eventually about my original (and routine) inquiry.

But how do you think should I react if it turns out that she doesn’t exist? (It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve come across letters signed by non-existent people).

After all, in these more security conscious days, Barclays Bank would certainly get more than a little upset if we were to use a fictitious name when we deal with them …

Christine, are you out there? Talk to me please!

PS: if anyone from Barclays Bank management is reading this, particularly if you are the Christine who wrote to me yesterday, please use the email form to contact me.

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