Monday, November 15, 2010

Vinegar and HSBC

They do not sell vinegar in the UK, at least not at the 4 grocery stores I've been to, or the others I've looked at online. Poop.

Its not that distilled vinegar (without spices or malt, thank you!) is that much of a necessity. Really. I'm pretty sure I can get by without it. Its just the annoyance of trying so hard to find something and not being able to find it. Anywhere.

They do sell vinegar - malt vinegar (in many different colors), pear vinegar, balsamic vinegar, vinegar for canning, and any other type of vinegar you can think of. Just not the plain, clear, white one without malt flavoring.

I don't use it all that often - I do like to make my own buttermilk. Add it to some milk, and pretty much instantly it becomes buttermilk! We save a fortune when I make pancakes and waffles because I don't have to buy buttermilk. But I can buy buttermilk. I'm not opposed to it... Its just that for the price of a can (or jug) of buttermilk, you could get two or three jars of vinegar. Although you have to admit that buttermilk tastes better than milk + vinegar.

Dave was a little annoyed that I was getting so worked up about it. Until I found a recipe for Carne Asada (we'll talk about Mexican food another time....).... One of the ingredients you add to the marinade was vinegar. And then, he felt my pain.

.   .   . 

Banking is a whole new ball game. Nothing about opening a bank account and figuring out payments and direct debit has been easy. Nothing.

Dave checked, and our rental payment that was supposed to go out on Friday had not gone out of the account... So our rent was overdue. We had filled out a form asking that they just automatically take it out of our account every month. This was the first month and so I first tried calling our housing manager who told me to try calling the bank.

So, I called the bank. Mind you, this is an 0800 telephone number. If you were in the states, it would be no big deal. But here, you get charged (not just minutes by your phone company... also get charged for the call itself!) when you call one of these numbers. And like a significant amount. For my phone call today, it'll probably cost around $7. So, not cheap.

Back to the story.... The computerized voice asks me to put in my account info, my sorting code, and then asks for my date of birth. I put mine in, but it says it does not recognize it. So, I try Dave's. It works just fine. In the States, this is not a big deal! We have a joint account, both of our names are on it, and we both have credit cards from the same account. So who cares if I'm using his date of birth or mine?!

When the call finally gets answered, the lady proceeds to tell me that I've locked Dave's account. In order for him to access it, he has to go into the nearest branch (which is NOT in our town.... its a bus ride away) and have them re-open basically his part of the account. She continues that she can help me, since my "part" of the account (of our JOINT account - do they have a different meaning for the word here????) was still active. But, because I had not set up a password or pin number in my own name, I would have to prove who I was. No problem. Date of birth, full name, number of my credit card. Then, the last question threw me - I had to tell her "something" that had taken place in our account over the last 7 days. So, if we'd made any purchases using the account, I would have to state the exact amount, the place purchased, and the date. If I were to get it wrong, I would lock my part of the account.

So... I spent a full 10 minutes on the phone with her, trying to find a receipt from something in the last week. But of course this is the week that we've switched to using cash, rather than our debit cards. And I ended up hanging up the phone, rather than tell her something inaccurate and screw-up our account further.

Dave and I take a trip into the bank to sort everything out. First, they have to re-set his part of the account so that he can use it. Then, we have to add my information (i.e. date of birth) so that I can call the bank without feeling like a thief. Then, we try to figure out why our direct debit has not begun to work. They have a copy of the form we've filled out in their computer system with our authorization of the direct debit.

Ah hah.

Dave's signature doesn't match.

Yup. They've become the signature nazis over here.

Someone, somewhere decided that Dave's signature on the direct debit form did not match his signature given to the bank when we opened our account.

The bank has been calling us the last week to try to sort it out. BUT... because of the laws and regulations they have, this is what the call goes like:

"Hi, this is your bank calling (they can't even say the name of the bank because of privacy laws). Can you give us your phone number and account number to prove who you are and then we'll tell you why we're calling?!"

And Dave hangs us because he doesn't give his information out over the phone.

So, its been a headache.

I think Tariq at the bank might become the baby's godfather. That's how much he sees us.


Andrea, said...

I am really frustrated just reading that BUMMER. :O(

Michael said...

Wow! See this is the kind of stuff I want Dave posting on our blog! Good economic reporting Andrea! Very interesting and I concur with my wife, frustrating!

khall1026 said...

You make me laugh. (Your writing style, not your pain.) Thanks.

sayslisa said...

lemon juice works to make "buttermilk". that's what i do when i don't have any real buttermilk. 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, complete the rest of the cup with milk. let sit for 10-15 min.

Gail Wallace said...

I sent vinegar with Jon! :) Love you!

Julie Mooney said...

THIS IS AMAZING. Not that I enjoy your frustrations - its just that I can hear the inflection and sarcasm in your voice as I read it. And it makes me laugh. And it makes miss you! Tell little Gigi that I miss her too! And ok. ok. We miss you too, Dave. :)