I lost all my cards on 14 Jan. The Co-op issued some new ones, and most of the debit cards eventually arrived by post. That left my joint account debit card and my credit card, which were inexplicably sent by Secure Mail Services (aka Idiot Courier Co). The secure mail service person couldn’t find my house for one delivery, and managed to find it when I was out for another delivery.

I eventually managed to persuade the Co-op to just send the debit card through the post, and I received it a few days later. BUT, they refused to send the credit card by post, and insisted on sending it by Idiot Courier Co. Idiot Courier Co told me that they would only deliver Mon-Fri during working hours, either to my home address, my work address or to a local branch. Actually, when I tried to arrange a Monday delivery, I was told that Secure Mail Services would only deliver to my postcode on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Now, I work all day. My workplace doesn’t allow credit card deliveries, and my nearest branch is half an hour away on the DLR, and I can only get into the Croydon branch on Saturdays.

I spent 20 years in Croydon. I return for family and IKEA. Not credit cards.

I told the Co-op to stuff their card, and that I’d pay the balance off in time. Then after I had told them to cancel the card, I received the thing by first class post.

So, I went to John Lewis to upgrade my account card to a partnership card. Decent rate of interest…yadda…

All was fine until I called them to ask where the card was. I had received PIN numbers, offers of other services, and all manner of junk mail from JLP, but no credit card. They told me that the card had been sent out with IDIOT COURIER CO a week ago. I said: “NOOOO! They’re morons! Can’t you just post it?” JLP said they would post the card just this once.

I received the card on Friday 2nd March. It wouldn’t initialise. Because, the lady in the call centre said, it had been cancelled at my request on Tuesday. Barely staying polite, I registered a complaint, was told that it was my fault because I should have waited ten days before calling them up, even if the literature says SEVEN DAYS.

So, on Monday, I get a letter from Idiot Courier Co, asking me to call them. I called them on Tuesday. The call centre bloke told me that the card was sent back on 1st March, so I should call JLP. I called JLP three times. The first time I was kept on hold for 15 minutes while they discussed my case. I told them to call me back at 1pm. No call at 1pm, so I called again at 4pm. They told me that their systems were down, so could I call back later. At this point I started cutting them off in mid-sentence.

Eventually somebody called me back and says that they have to issue another card. Through Idiot Courier Co. ICC left me a note, so I called them this morning. This time I got a young woman who sounded like she had more than two brain cells to rub together. She told me that ICC didn’t deliver on a Saturday, but if I called JLP (actually it’s outsourced to HFC Financial services), they would give special permission and pay extra to Idiot Courier Co to deliver the card on a Saturday.

This is where the real fun started. I called JLP back, told them what the young lady said, and they accusingly told me that they didn’t understand why she had said that. I snapped: “I don’t either love. I don’t work for the company, and all I want is my credit card delivered at the THIRD attempt.” So, JLP told me that they would only deliver to a home address or an address of my choosing during working hours.

Me: But I work during working hours. My office is a huge corporate HQ with over 2000 people working in it, and they don’t allow credit card deliveries.

JLP/HFC: Pause. Well, that’s all we can do.

Me: So I’ve got to take a day off work, which will cost me £xxx because I’m a freelancer, and when I don’t work I don’t get paid. You won’t deliver to my local branch of John Lewis, you can’t deliver to my workplace, and you won’t deliver on a Saturday. How is that convenient to me?

JLP/HFC: Well, isn’t there a family member who…

Me: No. My family all work during the day.

JLP/HFC: Silence. Well, that’s all we can do.

Me: Really? In fact, I’ve done without a credit card for nearly three months, and it’s quite restful. So maybe we should just forget it, then. I’ll pay off the balance in time, and that’ll be it.

JLP/HFC: Silence

Me: Look, can I talk to a supervisor or manager?

JLP/HFC: I am a supervisor, actually.

Me: I’m sure you are, but you can’t help me?

JLP/HFC: Silence

Me: You know, these silences are quite Beckettian. Besides, why can’t you just post it? You did last week. But I couldn’t use the card because you’d cancelled it.

Anyway, this went on for about five minutes. Me ranting, JLP/HFC silent. I was told that it was company policy not to send anything through the post. I told them that they broke company policy last week, so why not this week? They went really quiet at that point, and then grudgingly told me that they would put the card in “disguised post”. Judging by last week’s “disguise”, it won’t win any prizes.

Bet they cancel the card now, just out of malice.

So there you go. For all its faults, Royal Mail did actually deliver my cards promptly and safely. The alternate service was inflexible, incompetent, and in a nutshell, so fucking awful that they had to revert back to Royal Mail.

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