Four? You took on four? What made you do that?
Have you ever been harassed by your bank to come in for what they call an ‘account review’? If so, don’t give in. Stupidly I did and am regretting every minute I spent there.
First, while looking at my account, the female account manager says to me, ‘I see you’ve got £12.36 going out every month to [insurance company]. This must be your life insurance.’ I say, ‘yes’. She says, ‘well, we’re here to look at all of your finances to see how we can save you money.’ And I say, ‘I thought I was here so that you could change my account to one which gives me a better rate of interest.’ She ignores this and continues to try to sell and I continue to try to avoid. I say I’m perfectly happy with that amount and the cover I’ve got and she says, ‘well, what if something were to happen to you? You want to make sure you can take care of your little boy.’ And I say, ‘yes, and that’s why I’ve got that covered.’ She says, ‘but do you?’ And, we go round and round in circles.
At some point she asks, ‘do you only have one child?’ And, at this point I should have told her to mind her own business and that I wasn’t here to discuss my personal life, but I hate confrontation, so I answer, ‘no I’m re-married and I’ve got 4 step-children.’ Well, you can imagine what comes next: ‘Four? My goodness. That must have been hard for you to take on 4. What made you do that?’ Inside I’m absolutely fuming. Who is she to comment on my personal life? Again, I should have said something, but my mother raised me well and I politely but resolutely reply, ‘they’re lovely children and I’m really blessed.’ She raises an eyebrow and says, ‘well it must be easier for you…I mean you’ve already got one of your own. I have two step-children but I didn’t have any of my own.’ I don’t comment. I don’t say a word. I look down at my hands clasped and clenched in my lap and wonder to myself what her step-children would think if they heard her say this.
I’m very, very close to getting up and walking out, but then I remember she’s got my debit card. She looks at her computer screen again and says ‘right, I’ll switch this account for you. Just give me a minute.’ And with that she walks out. I’m left sitting there, counting the minutes, thinking I’m here for an account review and instead I’m being judged by some mindless woman who thinks she has some connection with me because she calls herself a step-mother. Why do people think this is acceptable? But it only gets worse…
When she returns she does so with a man she introduces as David, the financial advisor who deals with life insurance. So here is David standing in front of me telling me he might be able to get me a better deal, although it’s highly unlikely because of my age and new gender equality laws (irony at its best). In order to make him go away I agree to a meeting (to which I have no intention of showing up) in two weeks’ time. When I ask him how long the meeting will take, he says to me, ‘well usually no more than 15 minutes but I like to keep women in my office for at least an hour.’ I’m totally and utterly gob smacked. I can’t leave quickly enough. I pick up my bag and head for the door with David’s words echoing in my ears ‘see you on the 12th’ and with my own words, ‘no you won’t’ forming an inaudible reply.
As I walk back to the car, I mull over what’s just happened and can’t really believe it. It’s 2013 and yet there are people like this, both men and women, who think it’s perfectly acceptable to judge women, belittle their choices and make downright sexist comments. Would this have happened if the roles had been reversed? If it had been my husband sitting there with a male account manager and a female financial advisor?
Yes, I’m angry with my bank, but most of all I’m angry with myself. Angry that I didn’t say anything at the time. Angry that I’m part of the problem, perpetuating the perception of women as weak and powerless.
Well, bank, you’ve just lost another customer. You can add that to your million pound losses. I know this is passive aggressive but it’s the only aggressive I’ve got.