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News article created on 25 June 2014

A problem shared

I have a colleague, with a similar sense of humour, who is also an ally and a confidant. We share some of the more unusual (good and bad) things we experience in the interests of our sanity and sunny dispositions. I think it works…well, we both believe we’re sane and happy anyway.

Whenever I attend a meeting or am involved in a project, the purpose of which is to improve our 'on-line' presence or increase efficiency and allow greater customer self-service, a very small part of me reserves judgement on its success until a later date. 

It’s true, of course, that appetite for all of these things is immense and the vast majority of you would welcome any opportunity which allows you these options.  But, there’s always the exception that proves the rule…

So, here’s something my colleague recently shared with me and it goes a little way to explain:

  • Man sends Direct Debit form, no supporting documents, squeezes incorrect 16-digit card number into 6-digit sort code section.
  • I send Man another DD form, explaining how to fill it out correctly, asking if he could please tell us what it’s for.
  • Man returns DD form, with account number completed but sort code missing, saying it’s for licence.
  • I send Man another DD form, with sort code section highlighted, explaining his licence isn’t due until November.  But nevertheless, he can return the form and pay now, OR he can return it closer to the time if he doesn’t want to pay now.
  • Man returns DD form in order to pay now, but with a note to say please can he pay later.

PS. I confess that I may have had a little chuckle to myself, at the expense of my colleague's sanity.  

As a consequence, we decided that my next blog (this one) would be an excellent way for us to share some of the most common (yes, they really do happen - a lot!) errors encountered…just in case you’re thinking of doing something similar.  Well, it's possible, isn't it?!

Card payments and Direct Debits: two very distinct types of transaction.  A card payment involves you giving us your card details, so we can take one payment right now, and you’re done. Like in Tesco. (Except less queuing, hopefully.)  A Direct Debit involves you giving us your bank account details, so that we can set up a regular instruction with your bank to collect payments.  They won’t let us do this with your card number, even if we ask really nicely and send them cake.

Square pegs into round holes: Where we need numbers from you on a form, we try to be helpful and give you the right number of boxes to fill. HINT: if it doesn’t seem to fit, it doesn’t go there.

Check Your Cheque!  They’re really easy to write correctly… you would think. (See below) And no, we cannot amend it for you, that there be Fraud.

You are very welcome to renew your licence spectacularly early, provided we can confirm the fee to you at that point.  Please be prepared to also provide the payment spectacularly early!  We can’t give you your licence until you’ve paid for it.

Your customer number is unique to you, and your index number is unique to your boat.  No, you cannot give your old boat’s index number to your new boat, or pass your customer number on to the person you sold your boat to.

Check your Cheque. Continued…

Again, for your amusement too, here are some genuine previous cheque issues (swear on my heart and hope to die):

  • Not signed
  • Not dated
  • Not signed OR dated
  • Dated 2004 instead of 2014
  • Dated 2114
  • Signed in ‘amount’ box
  • Wrote “eight hundred and four pounds 60p” in words, but “£806.40” in figures
  • Payee as <customer’s own name>
  • Payee as “British Waterways” (we can still accept these, but… keep up)
  • Payee as “Boat Licensing Team”
  • Payee as “Camel & River Trust”
  • Payee as <name of BLT processor handling the application>
  • Payee left blank (good job we’re honest)

…Goodness, we feel so much better for sharing.  

About this blog

Sarina Young

Sarina joined us in 2008 as our customer services co-ordinator. Among other things, she manages our national customer service team, complaints procedure and requests for information made to the Trust. She says that the most important thing to her is to be able to go home and feel as though she’s achieved something, however small that might be. Her job is hugely satisfying, widely varied, full of deadlines, immensely interesting, sometimes challenging and no day is ever the same, although some are surprisingly familiar!  

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