Thursday, 26 February 2009

Confessions of a Shopaholic

I went to the Doctor this morning.

I was greeted by a bright, cheerful, young man I'd never met before, who, carefully enunciating all his words, remained bright, cheerful and attentive throughout the consultation.

He carefully listened to what I was saying, summarised carefully everything I'd told him and handed over the prescriptions still beaming, but not before he went through the list making sure that everything was clear to me and describing what the drugs would do and which condition they were for.

I'd been handed an evaluation questionnaire and only got to look at it carefully after I was shown politely out of the office.

I could only truthfully mark the questionnaire 'good' on every question about the doctor's manner and attitude.

There was no room for 'suspiciously'.

I walked into town and went to Boots for the prescriptions. Instead of waiting, I went up to the banks to get up to date mini statements.

I was mortified. I hadn't used the Nationwide card for the Boots stuff. I'd used the HSBC card. I was now in debit by £7.83 after the Sainsbury's fry-up shopping had gone through.

I made an appointment to speak to an advisor. I was given a printed ticket telling me that the wait would be 20-30 minutes. The greeter told me that the wait wouldn't be that long.

Half an hour later I was still waiting. A man was loudly arguing with the advisor. He'd been charged bank fees after a direct debit was bounced because there were insufficient funds.

He was an older man. Balding, white haired, wearing 'smart casual' beige golf slacks and a grey blouson jacket.

There was a tie and the collar of a check shirt visible at the neck of the jacket and sensible shoes in muted grey blue tones. The whole ensemble suggested that he was retired.

You can bet that he was probably wearing a short sleeved shirt under the jacket and, quite possibly a v-neck jumper.

I listened in disbelief after this idiot broadcast his troubles around the bank in a thick Black Country accent.

After everything that's been printed, after everything that's been broadcast about bank charges he honestly couldn't see why he was at fault and why he had to pay the charges. He walked out with the matter unresolved and muttering under his breath.

I finally got to talk to the advisor after he'd recovered from Mr Numpty.

The advisor sat me down at his desk and asked me a few security questions stumping me at my work telephone number.

Even though I was listed as "Unemployed", they still had the Big E details from when I used to work there.

Nope, couldn't remember it.

We finally settled on my mobile 'phone number.

This wasn't a spontaneous set of questions, there were a series of prompt windows popping up on his screen.

During a very stilted and unnatural conversation, during which he kept one eye on the screen at all times for more prompts, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that as I was in debit by less that £10, there was no charge.

There were no more direct debits to be deducted before I was paid tomorrow. Terrific, I said, making to leave, that's great.

Oh, by the way, said the advisor as casually as he could, did I have a mortgage?

I sat down again. Yes, with the Nationwide.

He made some adjustment with the mouse.

Credit card?

Yes, with the Nationwide.

Again, another adjustment.

Would I be interested in internet banking?

Nope. Not really.

There were numerous adjustments this time.

I angled for a quick glimpse of the screen. I was a "heavy user" of in-branch and ATM services.

While I was still there, I updated my employer and income details with him deleting entries and frantically adjusting various drop down menus.

I thanked him, finally, and walked away. I was at the door when I realised I still had my wallet in my hand and the advisor still had my bank card. I went back to collect my bank card from him.

Then, nearly three quarters of an hour after I first called in, I left.

On to the Nationwide. The debits hadn't gone out and I still had the best part of £55 still available.

I checked with the lady greeter at the front of the shop. She told me that the last direct debits won't go out until the 1st of March which leaves me with the £55 left in my overdraft.

Everything will be fine as long as I put all the money I owe for next month plus everything I spend today into the Direct Debit bank account tomorrow when I get paid. And I'm due overtime from the weekend before Christmas.

So I went window shopping around the charity shops and found at least one nice work shirt for £3.99 from British Heart Foundation and a great all wool, green, hooded coat by Elvi that would have cost upwards of £100 when new.

£6 from PDSA.

I bought it. And then found it was going to cost £15 to shorten the sleeves at the dry cleaners.

Still that's only £21 in total.

Later on, I realised that I'd lost the ticket.

I went on to window shop secondhand furniture and had great fun trawling through some very old dressing tables, cloth lined, curve fronted, glass shelved display cabinets and some very old sideboards and dressers.

I went on to the last shop of the day buying a yellow vest from the Compton Hospice. It will look good under some of the lighter and more summery shirts I've accumulated.

I went back to Boots, collected the prescription and went home.

Again, not much happened and I still didn't get around to starting my TO DO LIST.

Still, I got some stuff done.