How deaf friendly are banks?

I had one of my angry deaf moments last week. It took me a while to work out who I was most angry with. Sainsburys Bank for swallowing my debit card? Or my own bank, First Direct, for being completely useless and deaf unfriendly? In the end, First Direct won hands down.

To my discredit, despite having moved house around a year ago, I still haven’t got a textphone for my new home. I hate using textphones anyway but that’s another story

Not to worry, I thought. I will just email my bank. I joined First Direct because I could do everything online, so no worries.

I needed to call. Sigh… Oh well, I’ll ask my other half to interpret for me. But the first call didn’t last very long. Because for “data protection reasons”, the bank refused to take the call. I was furious. I happen to know for a fact that the Data Protection Act allows for some flexibility. But, more importantly, what about the Equality Act? What about the legal requirement to make reasonable adjustments and to show flexibility in order to meet the needs of disabled people? The bank was ill-advised to try and play legal top trumps with me, an ex-civil servant and now a campaigns officer. My fury went unabated…

The 2nd call was slightly more successful… but only after some rather terse exchanges and being left on hold for a rather long time.

The experience left me angry for 2 reasons. First, the lack of flexibility and dismal awareness of the concept of reasonable adjustments. Second, the lack of facility by which deaf people could contact the bank urgently through other means – online chat, SMS, all those fancy bits of technology that like everyone uses these days, especially deaf young people. It’s hard enough for young people to learn about finances, banking, etc. Banks don’t exactly seem to help matters for deaf young people.

A very frustrating experience. First Direct… what a load of bankers.


2 thoughts on “How deaf friendly are banks?

  1. I’ve never used online system for the bank none worked properly, nor the telephone as my bank accepts neither apparently ! Fortunately I don’t have to travel far to sort something out, again no support would be offered, it would be pencil and paper mostly, and woe betide you if you haven’t ALL the numbers ready or you are back to square one. The telephone and online banking system is not secure for deaf people, so many phished sites and scam e-mails confuse, I thought it better to just say no to online banking. text relay is also highly suss ! do not attempt to use it via an computer, the bank won’t look at it, mine wouldn’t ! I don’t even own a debit card, never will 😦 too much hassle, and why pay interest to take out my own money ?

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