Nationwide niggle

I’ve got an issue with Nationwide at the moment. They’ve not done anything wrong. They’re just trying too hard to protect “me” against fraud to the point where they could potentially make my life very hard indeed.

Recently they sent me a little card reader. If I want to transfer money online I have to use this, in conjunction with my ATM card, to generate a code. Fine and secure.

Problem: when travelling, I take two cashcards – one for Nationwide (free withdrawals) and one for emergencies (Lloyds TSB). When in Vietnam a year or so ago, my Nationwide card was nicked along with the rest of my wallet contents. A pain in the bum, but all I had to do was pop online, transfer some funds to the Lloyds account and 3 days later I could withdraw cash from there.

Can we see a problem? The time when I’d need to transfer money – when I’d lost the Nationwide card – I now need the damn card to perform the transfer… There’s no option with this card reader. They send you it even though you’ve not requested it and then you have to use it. I think I may get in touch and ask them what I’m supposed to do int he situation listed.

Actually, I also need to try and find my Lloyds bank card. Eek.

The BBC News Web Page. Top quality… or… not

I see this morning they’re plugging how wonderful the new video embedded in the BBC News page is. Two problems:

1) About 1/3 of the content can’t be viewed outside the UK, yet a still image with a message telling you you can’t look at it is included, even in the “International” page. They might has well put “So nya-nya-nya-naanaa” after.

2) The page with some examples on, telling you how great it all is… well. It doesn’t work. All but the Top Gear video just have a still picture with “Sorry this content isn’t available at the moment” on.

Top notch.

[EDIT – Around 8 hours later and it’s finally working… and been laid out differently]

More student loans muppetry

OK, not so bad (I hope) as the faff I had with them a couple of years ago. I notice on the new deferment information letter that they’ve actually included a standard regional phone number for people to call on if they’re outside the UK. Credit to them for adding that to the existing premiumlocal rate number.

I’m still struggling with their use of email, though. First of all you have to determine which of the four offices to email – England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. Is it based on where you are currently registered as residing, where you took the loan out, where the uni is based that you were attending…? This isn’t helped by all the mail coming from the central Student Loans Company in Glasgow (mine always has, even when I was in England) while the actual loans company I’m told to mail with account/address detail changes being in Rotherham.

I checked the English one and it was asking for an ID Code I didn’t have. Or maybe I do. There are umpteen codes all over the letter I got, most of them not actually identified themselves.

So I went for the Scots one as you don’t actually have to register to enter their site like you do for the English one. Again it ask for some Student ID that I don’t know if I have or not, but it’s not mandatory.

My query is a simple one – can I fax my deferment details to someone or do I have to mail them? Between the post here and the post in the UK I just don’t trust it to get there within 14 days.

So I sent my mail and got an auto-response… telling me that they endeavour to get back to all general enquiries within fifteen working days. If you’re appealing, they make it 10 working days but all the same this is completely useless. Even ten working days is effectively the same as 14 celendar days, so by the time you have the information you require (assuming, in fairness, they take the maxiumum length – and they only "endeavour" to stay within that limit) you don’t have time to send your stuff in.

Another victory for bureaucracy.

Visiting the Houses of Parliament

All in all, it’s a bit of a ballache. In Australia, you just arrive sometime before 4pm and you get a nice, free guided tour for about 45 minutes. In the UK, there are different rules depending on where you come from, when you visit, what you want to see and whether you’re buddies with a Lord or not.

Non-UK citizens can only visit (for a fee) during the summer period. UK people, however, can visit all year round at no cost… but have to have their visit arranged by their MP or a Lord. Because we all know the local Lord, don’t we? And our MPs really do have nothing better to do than sort out day trips. No, really. They don’t.

My problem is that I want to go in about a week and a half, which could be short notice. Also, I want to go with a foreigner. So can they get in now it’s not summer even though I’m accompanying them? And do they have to pay if they can? And who is my MP seeing as I don’t have a residential address in the UK?