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.