Natwest, the helpful bank: “Oh, you want your money back? That’s easy! We can help! All you got to do is jump through this hoop. And this one. And now this one. And this one, too. We can’t forget this one, it’s our favourite. And this one. And…”

Back near the end of September, I purchased myself an 11-foot paddle-board. What I received was a 2-foot ladybird. I don’t really know what it is, but it ain’t 11-foot long that’s for certain.

I e-mailed the company and they said they’d get back to me but didn’t.

I Facebooked them and got told that I clearly didn’t know a paddle-board from my arsehole. They didn’t say these exact words, but that was the gist. Apparently, I ‘no know how to use paddle-board.’

I have been known to be dimwitted, but I do know a ladybird when I see one, and I have been on a paddle-board — all this isn’t particularly alien. I also know that 2-foot is shorter than me and 11-foot is taller, so…

I decided to get my money back.

My mate had done something very similar and called their bank, Barclays. They got their money back as easy as making a brew. No forms to fill in, one phone call, done.

So I called Natwest, the helpful bank.

I spoke to a very helpful person who couldn’t help me, but they knew a team who could. The Retail Disputes Team. They’re super helpful.

I’m on hold for what feels like eternity — it was actually 33-minutes — and the person I’m put through to is, as I was told, super helpful.

To get my money back was a simple case of me writing an e-mail, attaching some evidence, and sending it off. It would take them 14 days, max.

They sent me an e-mail of simple, helpful instructions.

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I hope you can see how simple and helpful it all is.

  • There’s the tiny writing for the ease to read.
  • There’s its sheer volume of words for quick understanding.
  • There’s the bold to draw your eye away from the need-to-know information.

Super helpful.

Super clear.

So I spent some time writing my e-mail and gathering the evidence. I wanted to make certain that I ticked every box. The bit about ‘returning the item’ — well, I’ve still got it. I said so. I said it was reasonable to assume that, upon requesting a refund, I’d get told how to return the item. These people either never got back to me, or were rude, and they never got as far as giving a return address.

I sent my e-mail.

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I hope you see their helpfulness again!

  • The vague timeframe given so you can wait around aimlessly, and who doesn’t enjoy doing that?

Fast forward two weeks.

A response! A super helpful one, too.

hello james

Well, hello!

My name ain’t James. Yeah, my surname is James but there’s a Mr. in front of that. Or call me Tomos, or better yet, Tom. Don’t go call me James like as if that’s what I answer to. I don’t. Well, I do but my back is up.

I don’t think you can really notice it…

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I received the same helpful automated response as before.

I waited around feeling very helped by them indeed.

Today, I got their reply:

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I’m beginning to wonder if the Retail Disputes Team is having an identity crisis or something worse. They call themselves The Retail Disputes Team, Fraud & Chargeback Operations, and now Triage Team. And this ‘triage’ makes me think it’s serious since they’re working out who’s going to die, be alright, needs an ambulance immediately.

I was not wasting my time anymore, so I called.

Sick of this.

I’m not convinced that Natwest is being helpful.

I (eventually) speak to a man who tells me that all I need to say in an e-mail is that I’ve still got this ladybird and why that is, clearly.

I drew his attention to my previous e-mail.

‘The item has not be returned and is still in my possession. This is because I have not been supplied with a return address.’

Them two little sentences ain’t clear — they’re muddy, ambiguous at best.

Maybe because of the ‘be’ instead of ‘been’, who knows.

He goes through to the Triage Team and they need evidence because it’s not that they don’t believe me, it’s just that they’re trying to help me.

Yeah, super helpful.

But the man I’m talking to is insistent: Just say it all clearly.

Clarity is helpful.

(That’s a little something they too could glean.)

He goes through to the Triage Team again and comes back saying that no, they really need evidence. They can’t just have me say it, they need to know why I’ve said it — where’s my proof?

Because I didn’t directly request a return address, when this company was not acknowledging my request for a refund, I didn’t do everything I could to get my money back. This means that Natwest can’t be helpful.

They’re being helpful right now, aren’t they?

But what of standard business practice? Usually, when I order online, the company gives me details of how they want whatever returned as part of their acknowledgement that I want a refund.

It goes: Gimme a refund. Okay, return our items.

I don’t ask them for their return address, I get told.

Anyway, he’s insistent and I’m livid.

I’ve got to e-mail this company and request a return address. If I don’t hear back from them by Monday then I gather up that evidence, write another e-mail, and that will be enough.

But will it, though?

I doubted it and got put through to Complaints.

My main problem with Natwest is their helpfulness — all these hoops, and for what? More hoops to come. Barclays can conclude this exact same process with a fraction of the fuss.

To cut a long story short, the Complaints lady agreed that I have indeed satisfied all of their requirements and that this need for evidence was quite unnecessary. She said she knew this because she could see my case notes and the evidence I’ve supplied.

She’s getting back to me in 5 days, if not, with a letter sent sometime.

I’m led to believe that she is helpful.

We’ll see.


It is safe to say that I lost my cool along with my patience. But all I have in my defence is that I have a very strict 3-strike rule. I ask you to do something. I ask you again. KA-BOOM!

Tomos James