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Thursday 18 March 2010


No, not the place, but the Spanish bank that has taken over Abbey and Bradford and Bingley among others. The one with the adverts with Lewis Hamilton, who almost definitely doesn't bank with the skanking bastards. What is the deal with Lewis Hamilton? Everyone liked him and now they don't. He was shagging that one from the Pussycat Dolls, the one who seems to have had a fair bit of the old surgery. You know, the one who sings. Speaking of which, that show they put on sometimes on T4 (for when you have a hangover) where all these girls audition to be in the Pussycat Dolls? What's the fucking point in that? There are already like 60 of them and only one sings. Why does there need to be more? I know they called their tour "Doll Domination" but are they actually trying to form an army here? Will all girls who can sort of dance a bit eventually be conscripted? Anyway, I digress...

Even the name is a bit annoying. It looks like you would pronounce it so it would rhyme with "salamander". Or "back hander". But being Spanish, you have to say "San tan dair", and this makes you feel a bit pretentious for some reason. Like those smug bastards who roll the "r" when they tell you they're going on holiday to the Côtes du Rhône. Of course, say it the way it looks like a British person would say and you may as well say "Bonnet de douche, Rodney. Bonnet de douche". Either way you feel like a twat.

Because Santander raped and pillaged in the wreckage of the UK banking crisis, looting all the shitty little building societies, there are now around seven branches on every UK high street. Obviously this isn't viable long term and a bunch of people are going to get fired, but for now the employees of the former shitty building societies are making hay while the sun shines with their shiny new red Santander livery and uniforms. Yes, the uniforms are shiny too, like one of those suits that you can get for 17 quid in George at Asda. Only red. Now red looks great if you're an olive skin Spaniard, but over here we have ginger people. You've seen Paul Scholes, come on, it makes them look way worse!

Raping, pillaging, and the humiliation of some gingers aside, Santander want you to know that they are a caring bank. That is why they are giving away lots of money to charities local to your local Santander. However, to make sure you know about this, when you go into the branch they want you to take a little card and put it in a box to vote for which of three local charities should have a share of this tax dodge, er, I mean gift. It's like the X Factor meets Sophie's Choice. For fuck's sake. In one branch I was given the choice of cancer nurses, guide dogs or a hospice for the terminally ill. I could picture Harry Hill in my head - "Now, we all know nurses are good, and guide dogs are good, but which is better? There's only one way to find out. FIGHT!". Just divvy out the money between them and leave me alone, I don't want that kind of responsibility. I'm also concerned it will invoke some kind of ironic justice, like if I vote for the nurses or the hospice I'll go blind and if I vote for the dogs I'll get cancer. All because I went in to take out some money because the bastards cocked up and somehow irreparably fucked my card.

Santander's customer service comprises an onshore/offshore model. So it's a lottery really, when you call in, whether you will speak to someone in India or the UK. When I call, which I often do because they seem to somehow screw me over on pretty much a weekly basis, I sit there listening to the terrible hold music, praying to get someone in Bangalore. The hold music is just one bad corporate theme, the kind that sounds a bit like Viva La Vida by Coldplay without the singing, looped, but even if you liked that sort of thing you wouldn't get to enjoy it because every few seconds it cuts to a recorded message telling you some bollocks about "prudent banking". It's one of the few experiences that makes me feel violent without drinking, and as you may have gathered I'm kind of an angry person.

The reason I am hoping to get through to India, is their UK call centre seems to be housed in a very strongly dialected region of Scotland. A lot of people complain about the Indian call centres, because of the strong accents of the operators, which can be difficult for the caller to understand. There's been enough material written on this subject, and it's never going to change so I'm not going to bother going into it here. A lot of companies and banks accept this and also boast UK call centres, which is a strong selling point to people who feel strongly about that kind of thing. So why, why the fuck, put your UK call centre, the thing that is meant to make us feel at ease when we contact you, in a part of the Isles famed for having a really difficult accent for people to understand? I've spoken to many Indian people in my life, but I have never met (or indeed watched) Rab C. Nesbitt, so sorry, I'm just more at home with talking to the people on the subcontinent. Also, in India, to work in a call centre you need to have like, a degree. Over here it's what you do once you've earned your five stars and feel like there's nothing left for you to achieve at McDonalds. This is because they pay absolutely fuck all, and you know what you get if you pay peanuts? That's right, imbeciles. Imbeciles who seem to be abnormally offended by being sworn at for people whose job it is to inform other people that the computer, in fact, says no.

Yes, they do all the regular stuff all the banks do that gets on your nerves/ruins your life. You know the stuff. The charges, the stopping your card if you dare to try and use it abroad and then only being open during UK business hours for you to call up at great expense and get it activated again, the turning up the heating far too high in the branches so you sweat like you're nervously waiting to rob the place rather than pay in a cheque. That sort of stuff. But they all do that, and Abbey did all that shit before it became Santander (or as I call them, Banco Bastardos). I just feel like it has all gotten just a little bit more pony since then.

Still, at least they didn't go bust.



  1. Too right, they put the biggest bullcrap of all on me a few weeks ago.

    Went into Santander just to get about a £5 for a quick McDonalds and guess what they said, £30 Minimal Withdrawal £30 sodding quid!? And it happened when they changed from Abbey to a terrible bank.

    So guess what I did, took my card back went to Llyods TSB and set-up an account with them, and closed my Santander.

  2. Well santander have taken their last piss with me. Took them three months and numerous calls to the farcical, sorry, financial ombudsman to tell me 'no we arn't going to pay you back your 1000 quid that we erroneosly gave to someone else.' Those bullshit meisters are behaving like south american drug dealers, its almost as if they are ... nay, well, nevermind, ive come round to accepting that i have not a hope in hell of seeing my 1000 quid again, but have decided its probably worth the entertainment of watching their shiny shops get firebombed and their butt munching branch managers kneecaps getting broken, which i plan to start doing in the near future on a regular basis.

  3. Since writing this article last spring I have noticed a lot more stories like yours appearing in the national press. I'm no fan of the Daily Mail but they seem to really be taking them to task over their irredeemable customer service record, so we are certainly not alone in having had bad experiences. The one about the 30 quid minimum is a new policy, and like so many of their new policies it's arbitrary and will do nothing but get on people's nerves.

    As for your 1000 quid, all I can suggest is going to the press - as I said the Mail's financial section are trying to kick their asses at the moment so it may be worth emailing them and adding your story to their weight of complaints.

  4. Maybe if you can't understand a British accent, you might want to move out of the UK? Just a thought.

  5. The adverts are the worst.

  6. I did move out of the UK. If only all English people who think Scottish call center workers make no fucking sense at all did the same Britain would surely become some sort of utopia... Fuck off.