RIP Stephen Sutton / A lesson for us all

Today is a sad day, because it is the day that Stephen Sutton – the inspirational 19 year old who raised more than £3 million for the Teenage Cancer Trust whilst battling the disease himself – finally lost his fight and passed away.

What Stephen achieved in the short time he had far exceeded what most people achieve in a lifetime. Instead of turning his back on life as his body marched inexorably towards its tragic and untimely demise, Stephen made sure he squeezed every last drop out of the time he had left. Not only that, he turned his plight on its head and used it to help others in the same position. How many 19 year olds have the maturity and drive to do something like that? In fact, how many people of any age do? He also ignored the ignorant trolls who came forward when he was released from hospital after showing signs of improvement and accused him of being a ‘fake’ and lying about the seriousness of his condition – refusing to rise to their vicious bait about giving people their money back (something I for one would certainly have handled far less graciously).

Stephen’s story has got me thinking about selflessness and self-awareness; two qualities Stephen had in abundance but which so many people lack. You only have to look around a busy London office or commuter train to see people complaining – about their lot in life, or about the behaviour of other people and how it’s negatively impacted on them. True, everyone needs to let off steam once in a while, but in such moments it would do us all good to take a leaf out of Stephen’s book, think about how our negative behaviour and attitudes impact upon others – instead of the other way around – and realise that we all have a choice: To stay bogged down in our daily problems without bothering to raise our heads above the selfish parapets we inhabit, or to stand up, be counted and make the changes we want to see in ourselves and those around us. Thanks to people like Stephen Sutton, I know which I plan to do.

RIP Stephen: Wherever you now are please know that your legacy will live on in the lives of all the many people you have helped and inspired xxxx

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Bank Rage: Part Two

Whilst I can’t deny some part of today’s struggle has been self-inflicted as a result of the weekend’s birthday festivities, I am nonetheless in wonder at the absolute FUCKTARDERY (excuse my French) of some organisations when it comes to customer ‘service.’ I ranted the other day about Bank of Scotland but today they’ve excelled themselves even further, keeping me on the phone for a SECOND FORTY FIVE MINUTE PREMIUM RATE PHONE CALL (and breathe…), at the end of which they were not only no closer to finding out what the problem is with my account that is preventing the balance transfer for which I applied for this card in the first place, they also managed to accidentally hang up on me. In my frankly irate state I completed a rage-filled complaint form and was duly called back by someone in the complaints team (a new one to add to the repertoire of players I’ve been fobbed off with in the past week), who has assured me she is now dealing personally with the matter. No doubt tomorrow will bring further anger-inducing developments in this painful saga. Stay tuned, folks…(and please trust me when I advise you never, ever to apply for a credit card with the Royal Bank of Scotland).

Meanwhile, the writing magazine website I recently subscribed to for the princely sum of £9.99 per quarter is also having trouble with identifying my account as a subscriber account, barring my access to the subscriber-only writing competitions that were a big part of why I signed up in the first place.

I honestly don’t know what I’ve done to offend the god of technology, but it must be something pretty awful to warrant all this torment….

Customer service? You must be joking

Having recently become aware of the existence of 0% balance transfer credit cards (yes, I know, I have apparently been living in a cave for most of my adult life) I decided (obviously) to apply for one. After doing my research (thanks Money Saving Expert) it seemed the Royal Bank of Scotland’s 24 month 0% transfer card was the one for me. I duly went online to apply. Halfway through the balance transfer process, however, my computer crashed, and so I thought I’d wait for the card to arrive before trying again. Two weeks later the card still hadn’t arrived, and when I called to find out why it transpired there had been a problem with Royal Mail (naturally) and it had been returned to sender. They dispatched another card, which did arrive. All well and good.

Fast forward to this morning, when I called the Bank of Scotland to arrange the balance transfer. The woman in the activation team was very friendly and took all of my details before transferring me to a man in the balance transfer team. He was very friendly too, until he got to the final screen and saw an error message on my account. I explained the issues I’d had with the computer crashing when I initially applied and then the first card being sent back. He informed me he would have to transfer me to another team who would be able to unblock the card and complete the transfer. The next lady was very friendly too. She talked me through all of the same details and security questions, reassuring me she would absolutely be able to help – until she too came up against a block on the final screen. Cue five minutes on hold as she talked to yet another specialist team to try to remove the block. THIRTY FIVE MINUTES after I called the premium rate number, about two seconds before my brain exploded from the ear-bleed-instigating hold music, she informed me they couldn’t remove the block and, essentially, were unable to help me.

Clearly after wasting over half an hour on the phone to these cretins I was not going to take this lying down, and nor did I. When this fact became obvious to the woman on the end of the line she duly transferred me to another team (what a wonderful chance to further improve my social skills, thought I!), who tried to appease me by offering to refund the cost of the call. Eventually, after further perseverance, I was transferred to the fraud department, who asked me all the same questions I’d already been asked plus another set to make sure I was who I was claiming to be. Finally (finally!) I was told the block had been removed, and I was free to arrange the transfer – except it couldn’t be done on this call because it would take a further fifteen minutes to action the request to remove the block so COULD I CALL BACK?????

In truth I’ve been so traumatised by the experience that yet another day has passed transfer-less. Now I know how footballers feel…