Bit longer than normal, but hey!
I’m sure you all know the title phrase to mean onerous, and frustratingly time consuming, and all you get for it is gaps. Those things that make you wish you hadn’t started, and now you have to carry on regardless. You’ve all been there.
I mentioned last week my parlous financial status, and I do mean parlous. I’ve got 84p in the bank, and have been relying on the kindness of friends. I have assets to the tune of the best part of quarter of a million quid in various pension funds. One of them allows me to draw down quarter of its value as a tax-free lump sum, which would allow me to settle some debts (nothing major, but troublesome), pay back my friends, and give me quite a lot of financial slack to decide what I subsequently want to do.
I started the process back at the end of May, the provider ummed and awwed, then mid July requested some more information. I sent this the day after. And heard nothing. Not a peep.
Last Tuesday, I recruited my local Citizens Advice, and we got on the phone to kick some arse. I got through to some very pleasant but not very helpful minion. There were seemingly endlessly repeated questions about what I intended to do with the remaining sum. I ran variations of the same response.
‘I don’t know, and right now I don’t care. Keep it safe for me, and I’ll decide later. Right now, the only thing I want to discuss is the lump sum. What don’t you understand about the phrase “I have no money?” And one of the reasons I have no money is that you as a company are dragging your feet!. It’s my money, not yours. I want my money. I need my money. I’ve been evicted because of your company sitting on its hands for weeks.’
Then they wanted to know the ins and outs of a duck’s arse.
‘Does the total value of this pension fund and any others exceed £500,000?’
‘Because in that case we may beagle to release up to 50%.’
‘Doubtless that will take a long time, which will please you, because you’re not investing just for me, are you? You’ll be making money all the time too. I don’t want any more than the 25%. I don’t want any more.’
‘But we have a duty of care..’
‘Which extends to letting me have my money. That’s what I care about.’
‘I appreciate that. Now, about…’
‘Enough. Just get on with it, shall we?’
‘One other thing. You have another pension fund with us.’
‘Yes. And I didn’t call today to discuss that, and I refuse to. Forget it.’
Then he had the sheer gall to ask me what I intended to do with the lump sum. ‘Nothing to do with you, is it, what I do with my money*.’
But he trotted out, ‘We have a duty of care.’
Fuck. How many times did I hear the phrase ‘duty of care’?
Come Thursday, I had to go through it all again. Things got a bit complex, and I got cross.
‘Explain to me why you’re asking me the same things I was asked on Tuesday.’
‘We have a duty of care toward you.’
‘I get that. The best way you can care for me is stop procrastinating and let me have the cash.’
‘Well, we just need to run some additional security checks.’
‘And those are?’
‘We just need some documents.’
‘Don’t have one.’
‘Don’t have one.’
‘Recent utility bill?’
‘Don’t have one. Where I was living before I got evicted because of you wasting time was prepaid.’
‘Errrm. Recent bank statements?’
‘That I can do. And an original copy of my birth certificate.’
‘That might help.’
‘It had better, or I can feel a letter to the Financial Ombudsman coming on.’
In the end I also sent copies of my prepayment card, and my rent payment card.
I also laid it on with a trowel that stress, such as not having any money or anywhere to live, and being obstructed at every turn, markedly exacerbates my depression and anxiety, my vertigo (I’m walking like a sailor who still has his sealegs on shore, like being pissed but not as much fun), my palsy. I didn’t fib, I told him the truth.
I do hope he meant it when he promised he’d fast-track things. Standard response time is 10 to 15 working days. I pointed out I hadn’t eaten since Monday and it was now Thursday.
‘I appreciate that.’
‘I doubt it.’
*I was tempted to say I was going to Thailand, and intended to blow the lot on hookers.