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We must not use Coronavirus as a blanket excuse for poor service


By Vanessa Chance

This morning I got a text from my bank to say that I had become overdrawn, which was a shock to me as I never go overdrawn and had only just been paid. When I checked my account, I saw that a mortgage payment had gone out for the house I am due to move to after lockdown.

I was horrified and then spent hours trying to get through to someone who could sort it out. At first I called the lender’s mortgage department and was told that “Due to Coronavirus” the wait could be over 40 minutes. So I stuck my phone on speaker and got on with my work while I waited. At precisely 38 minutes in, it cut me off.

So I called the bank’s main customer service number and after several attempts, eventually got through to a frazzled, but helpful, Martin. After much more waiting, calls to other departments and checking with his manager, he told me the funds had been sent in error and said “this had happened a lot lately due to the overwhelming demand due to the virus.”


I still can’t quite believe this has happened and that the bank is putting the error down to Coronavirus, and telling me to expect a delay in any resolution for the same reason.

I know we are living in unprecedented times and I understand that businesses are having to adapt in ways they never thought they would to comply with social distancing measures and preventing the spread of infection. I appreciate people like Martin who are working throughout this crisis to answer thousands of calls from people worried about making ends meet right now.

I think my complaint is pretty minor in the grand scheme of things. But sending hundreds of thousands of pounds to an account by mistake and taking a mortgage payment from me without my authority, can you really blame that on Coronavirus? That is about as believable as saying the dog ate my homework.

This is an unprecedented situation and we are all having to adapt to different ways of living and working. It is only reasonable to expect some things will go wrong for us, both as consumers and as service providers. As a PR professional, I find that how a business acts in a crisis reveals rather makes the character of an organisation. There is a lot of good will at the moment and most consumers will be patient with businesses at this time, but they won’t want to be patronised.

Using Coronavirus as a blanket excuse for poor service is unacceptable and quite frankly, insulting.