Last week I went into Leeds for my hair cut. I headed for the most central car park I knew only to remember that in the days when I parked there I used to claim expenses and that £12 for 4 hours was no longer acceptable. However, 30 minutes, two bad decisions involving one way roads and a couple of bus only lanes later, I panicked realising I was about to hit the Leeds ring road AGAIN (horrible city to drive round) and drove into another car park slightly further away. For the privilege I paid £14 to walk further, curses.
Anyhow, upon leaving said car park I came across a large post office branch and needing an ISA application form nipped in. Unable to find one I resorted to asking an eager looking member of staff manning a post near the door,
"Ooh it is Keith you need for financial applications, I will find him for you" came the response.
I tried explaining that I was now in a rush (due to said car parking issues) and could I not just get a form. Apparently not and I was shepherded to a table behind a small screen to wait. Overcome with politeness I sat and duly waited for Keith who bounded out like someone had just announced Christmas had arrived early.
Think 'Keith' from The Office looks wise but with all the optimistic enthusiasm of Chegwin.
Small talk over he produced his one pager of financial products.
It was a spreadsheet of small print under titles like 'product', 'withdrawals' etc. Inwardly groaning I decided to give him a minute to give me an overview then ask again for the form.
Keith had other ideas and decided he would talk me through the entire sheet. Column by flaming column.
I glanced around to check this wasn't some sort of practical joke.
He was literally reading out the sheet to me. I would have been there days.
"O.k as I mentioned I am in a bit of a rush so could I just grab the application form..." I tried.
I am not sure what training he had recently been on around keeping the potential customer in the branch but his approach to this challenge was....to ignore me.
Seriously, he just carried on speaking without taking a breath.
Right, next line of the spreadsheet I thought and I am going in again. Still being polite, obviously.
"Unfortunately I am going to have to go so do you have any application forms?" I apologised
"Where are you going?" came the response
" Er to a hair appointment" I replied
"Why?" I heard him say
"Well it's just that I won't get the chance again for a while because I am due to have a baby..." I started to justify
"Where do you go?" he responded.
Oh my god. Was he seriously checking out the validity of my excuse. I should have told him to mind his own business, left without the form, ignored the question.
No, instead I threw back my answer, almost too eager to prove it wasn't a lie (what the hell).
Small talk resumed ('must keep customer in branch' mantra now almost audible).
I was finding it ever more difficult to escape without sounding rude when he was trying so hard.
Eventually he ran dry (maybe it was the fact I was now pretty much sitting on the arm of my chair, bag on shoulder).
"O.k if you could just sign here then" he said passing me a 10 page document.
"Er, sign for what?" I questioned
"Oh just to say that you have had financial advice today and agree to our next meeting" the latter part tailing off in volume.
Losing the will to live I had to stop it getting any worse,
"Sorry (???) I am due a baby in two weeks, I shan't be coming to Leeds anytime soon and I haven't had any financial advice that I know of, please can I just have the form?" Was I actually begging?
"O.k here it is. Why don't you fill it in during your hair appointment then pop back on your way home?" a last ditch attempt to fulfill his quota.
"O.k no problem I will do that" I said standing.
"So do you have all your previous ISA details with you so you can say where the transfer is coming from?"
Of course I didn't. My shoulders slumped. "No"
"Well you will have to nip back then to bring it in, do you want to put a time in the diary?"
"Is there no way I can just post it?" I suggested.
I felt awful. I could see the look of defeat in his eyes. It was such a valiant attempt for a sale, such a desperate bid to prove that he had secured the business. The 10 page document sat unsigned on the table in front of us.
"Yes" came his response, "It has a freepost envelope at the back..." and with that I was off in a flash.
Now late I ran (walked briskly if G Kisby or Granny is reading) to my hair appointment.
I have got to do something about this need to be polite!