Thursday, 3 March 2011

Building Blocks

A very strange thing happened today. I had an appointment with a financial adviser at a well-known high street building society. I wanted to open a stocks and shares savings ISA for my 13 month old son. To do this I would have to see a financial adviser beforehand - which, although i already have an independent financial adviser who I'm more than happy with - I agreed to do. I admit to not feeling great. I have a lowish blood count at the moment which makes me feel pretty exhausted most of the time. I don't have much of an appetite due to everything tasting either too sweet, too sickly or too salty, and my hands seem to be permanently too dry and tingly.

Still, I decided to go to the appointment. On top of all of that, I couldn't find my headwrap. I hunted far and wide for it but time was running out and I still couldn't locate it. I decided on wearing a woollen hat as it was a cold day. I always think hats without hair only really suit a small number of women -those with exceptionally pretty faces and/or an unusual quirky style. I also think there's something odd about attending a meeting and wearing a woolly hat for the duration of the time. But I had no choice. I waited for a short while after reaching the building society, then a very fresh faced looking man came out to see me. He didn't shake my hand and seemed quite nervous for the first 5 minutes. He asked me lots of questions about myself and my money (the way people who work for banks often do) and then asked me if I was working at present. I told him that I'd recently been diagnosed with a serious illness and was on sick leave.

Now, why I disclosed that information, I really do not know. I suppose I should blame my chemo brain, or fatigued brain cells for not sticking to the script but i guess I was feeling tired, honest and perhaps I was looking for sympathy. Anyway, I got none. He asked me about the nature of the illness and I told him cancer then I saw him note it down. I then asked him not to put it on my record/application as I had told him something in confidence. But, he said that they had to put it down as it might affect any future applications, and some other waffle which I was too tired to try to decipher. We went through the application, I chose a product then at the end he started to write notes. He asked what kind of cancer I had. I told him breast and he started to write something down. I remember thinking that I had asked him not to write that down but felt too weak to protest. When I got home I started to think about it. It bugged me. Then it bugged me again. And again. The bugging feeling got so bad that I couldn't think of anything else. I started to feel outraged that he'd ignored my request. I started to remember that I had been the customer. I started to get mad and angry. I rang him up. Told him that I had this feeling that wouldn't go away. I wasn't happy with what he'd done and I wanted out of the ISA. After all I hadn't gone there asking for a mortgage, or a loan, or critical illness insurance. He was nice enough, then of course got a little defensive, reminding me in a semi-patronising tone that of course he'd have to include that information about someone with cancer who was looking to open a 5 year bond (i.e. let's face it, you might not be around for that long...). Anyway, I was nice, but firm. Even apologised, then told him I wanted to close the ISA. I got off the phone, still felt violated, told my mum and then my partner who both got mad for me. I've decided to make a complaint. It might sound trivial but when you have cancer, don't you feel bad enough ?  Do you need to go to a bank and be made to feel worse ?  If that information was crucial and he couldn't proceed further without including that information, then why not tell me at the outset ? Anyway, sometimes it can feel as though a) you bought this dreaded disease down on yourself and b) that you're no longer a normal person. Just someone who has cancer and might not be long for this world.

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