Yesterday, I phoned my bank.

I needed to make a payment. Normally, I would prefer to do this online as it means I don’t have to talk to another human, however, I recently managed to get myself locked out of my online account by incorrectly entering my “memorable date” too many times.

When I’d originally registered for online banking, I had been asked to give a “memorable date” but had been warned that it shouldn’t be my date of birth. I couldn’t think of anything, and in my panic, I chose September 11th. This is certainly a memorable date, even for the most appalling of reasons, and so it seemed like a good choice (after all, memory is not the same as morality, and I didn’t think an automated banking system would be offended by the crassness of choosing this date).

Still, despite this clever if tasteless approach, I managed to forget I’d chosen that date and so was unable to access my account online. I phoned my bank and, after verifying my details, I spoke to a nice woman (I have forgotten her name, but it’s probably not important) who not only processed my payment, but noticed there was a problem with my online account and was able to fix it, giving me access to my online banking account once more.

At the end of the phonecall, I was informed that I had been randomly selected to take part in a customer survey. Well, you can imagine how thrilled I was. They wanted my opinion. They wanted to listen to me. They were interested in what I thought. I could make a difference. I could change things. This was it. I had been randomly selected, I’d never felt so important.

The questions were all quite straightforward. I was asked to rate the quality of service I had received on a scale from one to nine. I was asked how helpful the customer service assistant had been, how knowledgeable they seemed, how satisfied I was with the way that my query had been handled, that sort of thing. The woman had been very helpful and had even resolved a problem which I hadn’t actually mentioned. I was very happy with the service I’d received and scored mostly eights and nines.

The last question was “How likely are you to recommend the Co-operative Bank to your friends or family?” I gave this some thought. How likely am I to recommend the Co-operative Bank to my friends or family, on a scale of one to nine?


I was perfectly happy with the service I’d received, and I’ve never really had any problem with the Co-operative Bank, but it’s fairly unlikely that I’d recommend them to a friend or family member. I mean, who goes around recommending banks to people? Why would I take that unnecessary risk? What if someone took my advice and then had a really difficult time with the bank? They’d blame me. No-one particularly likes their bank. The Co-operative seem to have a slight advantage over their competitors in as much as they don’t appear to be actively evil, but that’s about it.

If the question had been “If you were in a pub with a friend and for whatever reason, that friend asked you – you of all people – if the Co-operative Bank was OK, how likely is it that you would shrug your shoulders and say ‘They’re OK I suppose, I’ve never had much trouble with them.’ and then change the subject?” I’d probably have scored them a seven, but with the question as it stood, I scored them a three.

Even that was being a bit generous. It’s probably closer to a two.

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