At the End of the Day

The greedy inefficiency of  lawyers, bankers and bureaucrats that this site (and millions of others) try to illustrate on a macro scale has been converted into an excruciatingly tortuous micro-experience for Yours Truly over the last two days. The basic story here is that I’m moving house, trying with my brother to put my recently late father’s probate in order, and ordering medication/currency funds prior to an extended stay in France.

We need a new word in the language for my ongoing person-to-corporatist Britain interface on this one. Kafkaesque, infuriating, greedy, inefficient, exploitative, or rapacious don’t get anywhere near to the encapsulation of this farrago of foul complication.  Maybe something onomatopoaeic might fit the bill – and boy, what a bill.  A noun perhaps – for example, twangphurrt. Arrgoof. Owbastards. Wothefuckareyounuts. It’s work in progress.

Or there again, you might get a better sense of it from verbs -  like in the TV campaign of a few years ago, “You know when you’ve been Tango’d”.  I know that I’ve been shagbummed, ballsbricked, pissucked, footslogged, jargonackered and brainstoned.

Example 1: The lawyer. To sorting out the simple task of making ten phone calls, reconciling an Estate with no tax due, then submitting same to the DWP and HMR&C axis of highly-pensioned urban guerrillas: £15,000, Ithangyooo. And if there are any complications, well….we’re talking eighteen months squire, but five years tops.

Example 2: The banker. Sorry mate, once he’s dead, we freeze all deposits until someone forces tells us to release them. Never mind all that guff about Little Nell’s brain aneurism requiring urgent surgery: don’t ask me to go against a law giving me medium term rates on £180,000 worth of free money, more than my bonus is worth chummy. Haha.

Example 3: The banker (ii). Ah – right, I see, you want to pay a bill with your own money to a Forex outfit in order to be able to buy stuff while you’re away? (SFX tooth-sucking – Sffffffs ) bit tricky that one. See, if this was a direct transfer to a foreign bank, well – nothing to pay, simple SWIFT, off we go. But as it’s another UK Forex with its account at another UK bank…aah, now you’re talking. Or rather, you aren’t because you need CHAPS, and that costs £25. Mind you, I can set this up now as a regular transaction and then you can do it online, but not on the telephone. Only takes ten days.

Example 4: The doctor-bureaucrat. Your bp’s rather high. Yes, I know we’ve kept you waiting fifty minutes and we cancelled your appointment without offering you another one two weeks ago….but even so, it’s a high reading.  Have you ever considered anger management, medication, meditation, stopping alcohol, boot camp,  blah blah bah lecture lecture lecture oh alright then just this once but do try to cut out food and sex from now on.

Example 5: The pharmacist-bureaucrat. “Collecting it now are you? That’s fine, won’t be a minute”. Twenty-five minutes later: “Sorry, we’ve only got half the things you need…can you come back tomorrow after 11.30? Fine – but we’ve got the private prescription you needed…that’ll be £79.33 pence please”. The following day: “Sorry, it won’t arrive until tomorrow now. That’s absolutely guaranteed – but you can ring us to check if you like….just to be on the safe side.”

Example 6: All of the above. When a person expires, nobody from the Death Registration, Bank Account-freezing, or Probate-administering spectrum of bullsh*t tells you that the only thing that matters is to tell the DWP and the private pension providers that your Dad has expired, otherwise you could be waiting around 30 years from now for lukewarm signs of action.

It’s all down to a traditionally British professional amateurism – overlaid since around 1982 with a greasy film of American amorality: as I said way back at the start of this piece, greedy inefficiency. No free and open, decisive, demand-driven market affects these jerks in any way whatsoever. They cling onto your money, charge you silly money, and cost you money with gay abandon. None of it matters to them, because it’s not their money. All they want is that enough of your money carries on morphing into their money.

The true measure of an economic system is how its professional services behave. Our problem in 2013 is that not only does that sector behave like a sociopathic brat, far too often it is the tail wagging the dog of cultural creativity and ethics. It is the driver of idiotic beliefs about elite rights, minority rights, and two wrongs making a right.

70 thoughts on “At the End of the Day

  1. Shouldn’t bank transfers in €uros come under the SEPA rules? Then you can forget IBAN, BIC, SWIFT, CHAPS and on and on

  2. Intriguing:

    “Never mind all that guff about Little Nell’s brain aneurism requiring urgent surgery: …”

    Vaguely recalling certain posts from last summer, ref. visits from France to specialists in London (Harley Street?), and the content of a couple of posts over the past few weeks, is perchance a reconciliation in the offing? If so, it’s fingers-crossed time for me!

  3. John,

    This is the pride of UK industry you are talking about here, yes the Service Sector. Everybody wears a suit or has a shop. Who needs manufacturing with a masterplan like this?

  4. Well, being a cynic with time on my side, when my day died in March 2012, I said fook it I’m going to adminster his estate. You don’t need a solicitor, it’s mostly grunt work, you do need a friendly accountant tho. I’ve done it, just follow the steps “how to adminster an estate”. Saved the family about 40k, shame they don’t realise that.

    • Utterly agreed. Do it yourself. The Probate office staff couldn’t be nicer, make a list of everybody to inform, make sure your name goes on all bank accounts as EXOR in re of … and then you’ve only got your own ID to show. If you must hire a solicitor, then make some calls and NEVER hire a solicitor or bank on a percentage basis of the Estate value. If you are writing your Will, never use a “professional of any kind as Executor. Make it the person who stands to inherit most – they’ll have a vested interest in value for money. If they’re not able to cope with doing the job for some reason, write out the process and leave it with the Will.

      • Agreed absolutely. With my brother I am just completing administering my Mum’s Estate. Yes, a few, not very complicated forms. But everyone we have contacted has been helpful and talks you through it. Estate was worth just a little more than John Indicated for his father… Can’t see 15K of work – nothing like it.

      • I agree with all of this, but would add one detail.
        If you can’t do it yourself, then don’t get a lawyer to do it. Hire a trust corporation instead. They’ll typically charge between 1.5-2% of the value of the estate, whereas a lawyer will more likelly charge 3-4%.

        Generally they’ll be quicker as well.

      • I concur John, when my Aunt passed away intestate, my mother dealt with the estate. While it wasn’t a big estate (a house and a few bits and bobs) there was no way £15k’s worth of work unless you are instructing PeterCarterFcuk or the like :)

      • Another tip for those like me with an elderly parent. Make their bank account a joint one with you. The bank can’t freeze it when the inevitable occurs and you can do everything yourself. Including paying all the bills with no hassle.

  5. All part of the “common purpose” I’m afraid, life has indeed become unbearable here, the only thing thats seems to work well is revenue collecting by the state, and even then they wear you down to such an extent that you feel glad/relieved they take the payment from you. Part of Mr Camermoron’s behavioral change programme no doubt, to make us sheeple feel good about paying taxes we know will be used immorally.

    I recall when visiting friends in rural France a couple of years ago, I parked up in the town square and looked for parking restrictions/surveillance camera/parking meter..a bemused local approached me and wryly commented that I wasnt in Britain now. Lovely relaxed way of life and the feeling of freedom was very apparent, although according to my pal they are doing the same aerial spraying (geo-engineering?) over there, spoiling the clean air and blue skies. Good luck, I found my visit albeit brief, to be a tonic.

  6. Mobile phone network operators get me. I switched to 3 lately from money grabbing tmobile ..

    So I needed to top up credit run out. I do monthly ..
    Top up. Please register your card.
    Ok done that
    How much you want to top up ?
    £15
    Ok that’s done
    Do you want all in one 15 bundle
    Yes
    Ok done.
    Ok now you have no credit.
    Whaat?

    Well the fifteen quid you put on just got used to pay for bundle
    So thats minus fifteen quid
    Leaving your account with 00.00

    You are out of credit top up now.

    How about you eff off.
    I just gave you fifteen quid mate.

    Bastards … what have I paid for then?

    Then you get this political blogs are now deemed mature content
    So need parental control.
    How do I remove block?
    Got a passport ? No
    Driving licence. No
    Sorry can’t help you
    So I need driving licence to read
    a political blog then ?
    Er yeah.

    No wonder this country is a mess.

    • Bobchewie/b> To get Content Bar removed on Vodafone just go to one of their shops and tell them your number. They will do it immediately. For Orange you do need photo-ID or you can phone Customer Service and use credit card to make a payment if you don’t have photo-ID. Virgin require a name and address check. Hope this helps.

  7. Hey wait a minute what’s going on? Are we here in the states brain dead gun toting fundamentalist one moment and the next we are…….. “overlaid since around 1982 with a greasy film of American amorality”. Which is it?

  8. Hi John

    Never commented on here before but I hate to see someone throw 15K away un-necessarily.

    You can administer your estate yourself. I did it for my Dad. I did all the legwork and the IHT tax form but hired a solicitor to actually apply for probate and review the tax forms. A while back it cost <1000. Your case should be simpler as there is no IHT. The solicitor actually had some helpful suggestions. Only complaint was that he moved on and I got a replacement before the task was complete.

    Its best to distinguish between hiring solicitor to "administer the estate" (fee % of estate) and hiring him to "get probate given you do legwork" (fixed reasonable fee). The latter is a better deal

    Good Luck

  9. “British amateurism” – I think not. Your experiences bear all the hallmarks of what managerial Newspeak calls ” a properly resourced, professional, caring service” . Public or private sector, you are helpless and ripped off once you are in their clutches.
    Whilst there were always rogues, there used to be genuinely helpful, officials, lawyers, traders and bankers who were literally amateurs, liking their work ,knowing the short cuts and wrinkles and pleased to demonstrate their mastery of them. What we have now is the curse of tick-box managerialism – a response in many cases to over-detailed
    regulation, as well as greed.

  10. Don’t even think about trying to transfer funds from Westpac in Australia to an BMI (Bank Negara Indonesia), both major banks. Tried over the internet as all names, numbers, swift codes etc were known and all the ducks in a row. Couldn’t be done. After 6 weeks, the money was returned minus handsome fees charged for providing no service. A couple of months later for another transaction I went to the branch and had the manager do the telegraphic transfer personally. Couldn’t be done either. 8 weeks of stuffing around with me and the recipient exchanging masses of e-mails and documents because the banks don’t actually talk to each other. When I walked into my branch tellers disappeared, suddenly in need of coffee or a rest room break. It could have been the beetling eyebrows, or the shoulders hunched up round my ears, or perhaps the black cloud I was towing around. I believe my local branch were trying their best, even if only from the time it was costing them and the wroth they had to endure. I believe the branch in Indonesia were trying to get the money to their customer’s account. Some Basturd in Jakarta was putting the money on the short-term money market, charging handsome fees then failing the transaction and pocketing all the margins.
    Corruption and bureaucracy comes in different styles around the world, but is just as infuriating in any language.

  11. My wife and I went into the pharmacy in Sainsburys the other day for some Canestan cream. When my wife asked the assistant for the cream the assistant loudy asked her, “Is it for ‘down there’”? you know in that sort of hushed voice that is always used when referring to ‘down there’ I thought my wife was going rip her head from her body…..

  12. You leaving the UK for a while? Don’t. you might actually not want to return.
    I left the UK in 1994. I am never coming back. Everybody out!

  13. Gawd. Everywhere is so damn crooked these days. Was it always like that? I don’t remember that it was. But it is now ingrained. Ripping off the residents of “Treasure Island” is de rigueur at every level: government, professional, trading. You name it. Once we were a nation of shopkeepers. Today we’re a nation of con artists.

    That’s American business ethics for you.

    Did I actually use the word “ethics” sandwiched in between “American” and “business”? How very oxymoronic of me.

    Signed,

    Anthony Horsemeat-Burger.

    • In fact we are still a nation of shopkeepers, shopkeepers who are terrified of the future in which there will be genuine competition instead of the current situation in which massive margins support a retail sector that’s probably twice the size it reasonably needs to be. All those retail outlets are failing for a reason. The world has moved on.

  14. It bemuses me that, when you register a death in the UK, the Registrar does not collect all the key government references of the deceased (NI Number, Passport Number, Driving License Number etc.) – these could then be whizzed electronically to all the agencies (Tax, Pensions etc), ensuring that the fact is captured by all interested functions of the State, enabling them to be stopped and rendered secure from post-mortem fraud, whilst saving the executors lots of admin tasks. But maybe that’s too logical.

    • Now your talking common sense. The problem is that non of these state agencies will talk to each other. They are all stuffed with bovinely stupid jobsworths who quote the data protection act at each other and refuse to pass information even when good old common sense clearly dictates that they should. This is why the UK is such a wonderful environment for Nigerian fraudsters and scammers. If you ever hit this data protection wall and ask one of these idiots which one of the 8 data protection principles they would be violating they haven’t got a clue. In fact there is nothing to prevent information disclosure for the genuine prevention and detection of crime but that goes way above the heads of these muppets. I could give you so many examples of this utter stupidity.

      • Absolutely, when you register with the data protection registrar, you have the opportunity to list all the organisations with which the data will be shared. Of course if you did not do this at the outset then you need to admit you were wrong, and then get the registration amended.
        Much easier to say”No it breaches the Data Protection act”
        Muppets is too good a word for them.
        Foxtrot uniform delta sierra’s.

  15. I know this is hardly helpful but I was executor on my mum’s estate – it went to Probate – talked to a nice woman who accepted my story – got money after a short while and distributed it. QED. But … I didn’t have health issues and I didn’t try to combine it with going abroad … one step at a time is my motto.

    • With respect, your mother’s estate was probably very small, probate officials can give Letters of Administration or grant Probate without difficulty in such situations. If there’s any possibility of a tax liability, then matters become very different. Also, HMRC really start sniffing around if the estate is just under the Inheritance Tax level, as they then want to know ALL possessions in detail, just in case there’s an Old Master or three in the estate.

  16. Good luck with the decamp JW..! you’ve earned a period of retreat I reckon. Time to close the lid and shut out the world..

  17. The Lawyer: If you were not TOLD your bill was going to be in the region of £15,000, you have a genuine and, by taking it to the Solicitors Regulation Authority, easily resolvable grievance. You MUST be told in advance how much work is going to cost.
    I cannot comment on the other matters……you complaint is too vague.

  18. I think you will find that most of your problems stem from the tentacular spread of government regulation, i.e. over-governing.

    I don’t agree that it is down to some kind of British professional amateurism. The ‘Professional’ in my experience is rarely that nowadays due to a lack in depth of knowledge (due to inadequate education, itself a result of over-government in education), they know the box-ticking surface of their profession, but they have too little understanding of what it all really means. Those that do maintain at least some professional standards are so bound by regulation and restriction they simply have to follow the check-list or find themselves having to justify their decisions, much better for them to waste your time than have theirs wasted from their point of view.

    As others have said, it is truly foolish to seek legal advice unless the situation is truly difficult and/or dire. Banks have always been unhelpful where anything out of the ordinary is requested and like lawyers, have always been greedily inefficient.

    But I understand your frustration, after all, it is not you alone that has to suffer it, we all do.

    • I recently went to my local bank (Lloyds TSB), intending to carry out some routine monthly bill paying and to arrange the paying-in of a lump sum from my pension. This required a form to be completed and my signature to be witnessed. it went a bit like this:
      Bank Worker (BW): Good morning
      ME: Hello, I’d like to pay these bills please (passing paperwork and cheques across the till)
      BW: No problem Mr (stamps paperwork and wizzes it thru the scanner)
      BW: Anything else I can do for you Mr
      ME: Yes, I’d like this form and signature witnessed please.
      BW: Oh, not sure I can do that, as I dont know you (?!!!!)
      ME: I come in here most months…….
      BW: But I don’t know you outide the Bank
      ME: Odd, your branch 20 miles away did the same for me when I lived there and I don’t know any of them outside the Bank (now maybe this was where I went wrong)
      BW: just wait, I’ll ask the supervisor
      The dreaded bank supervisor (BS) appeared……
      BS: What is it you want?
      ME: This form witnessed please, so I can pay 30-odd grand into my account
      BS: Hmmmm, we can’t do that as nobody here knows you.
      ME: I did this at another branch only a while ago……
      BS: We’re not allowed, it’s anti-fraud regulations….. (I stopped listening)

      I drove to the other branch – where I don’t know the staff….
      ME: Hello, can you witness a form and signature for me, I have ID and will be paying 30-odd grand into my account.
      Bank Worker at 2nd branch (BW2): No problem Sir, it’ll take a few minutes.

      10 minutes later all forms filled in, verified by Bank and I’m off to the Post Office to post the form to the pensions people. Just an extra 40-odd mile round trip out of my way, to get my own money paid into my account.
      Obviously, I won’t be going back to the local branch anytime soon and once the money has cleared I’ll be moving the account elsewhere.

  19. High street pharmacy in the UK is now a back office functionary hell hole.Stock is rarely held and usually so little that a follow up visit is needed.God help anyone requiring shingles treatment as the Famvir is rarely in stock even at the wholesaler and yet these chains of pharmacies are owned from off shore.Lloyds is owned by a German group who is falling more each day under the Boots,Swiss head quatered and owned by a Monaco resident who borrowed the money from KKR(the R having close association to Mexicans).Nice to see our taxes at work.This whole shambles costs the tax payer a little over £10Billions just for medicines appliances about £800Millions and on top of which are the fees.

  20. Sadly we are no longer customers but consumers and the old maxim of “the customer is always right” has been replaced by the maxim “the consumer is just a cashcow”.

    And ever-intrusive and onerous legislation means that in many spheres of life, you are no longer allowed to exercise personal intiative unless you have been issued with the right sort of permit.

  21. I’ve been over at our remote French pad in south Burgundy since Monday and yes, you can smell the oncoming doom in the air.

    The locals towns have rapidly become ‘zombified’, the weekly markets smaller, the commercial town premises empty and to rent more in number and the mood is apparent.

    Everyone you talk to and everywhere you go people are saying that they have no spare cash ‘and the new government are thinking about shortening the school holidays by four days you know’.

    As with the UK, houses are looking tatty, Christmas decorations are still up everywhere and taxes and prices have gone up!

  22. went into my [then] local branch of rbs a few years ago, i had used this branch for about 20 years. me i would like to make a withdrawal please cashier ( young woman) how much me 1200 pounds please cashier whats it for? me what? cashier i have to know what its for before i can let you withdraw the money me im not telling you. my money is in that drawer. give me my money. cashier but i have to fill in a form.i have to know what its for. me ok i will tell you. its for guns , drugs , prostitution cashier but i cant put that mr custard me dont care put what you like, give me my money or call the manager cashier then consulted with the manager and returned to me and said on this occasion we will permit a withdrawal. i changed colour a bit and gave her and the numpty behind a AA bollocking. never had a problem since. twat of a system. its everywhere these days. condemn everyone to catch a tiny minority, we dont have to tolerate it, also these days i have become so intolerant of this sort of crap people expect me to be difficult so i do my best not to disappoint. atb cc

    • Asking what you want the money for, is beyond the pail, but saying,”For drugs and guns” in reply is quite a legitimate answer.

  23. When my husband died I had my solicitor do the probate. I know it was simple but quite a lot of money involved, it cost me about £750 six years ago. Re the above I have drawn larger sums than that in cash and have never once been asked what it was for, if I was my account would have been moved there and then.

  24. Too familiar, unfortunately. I can add my own examples to that too. The electricity company: charging me a daily fee for not using any electricity or gas in an empty property. Cut the supply off? Can’t do that madam, or rather we could, but that would involve ripping out the meters and we’d have to charge you to reinstall them. The mortgage company: our system tells us that you are separating from your husband and it can’t be our systems fault. You say you’re not separating? I’m sorry we can’t accept that unless you send us a signed affidavit, signed by you both. Oh you never told us you were separating? Well I suggest you check with your husband then madam, as he might have called us with the news before he told you.

    Furious is not the word.

  25. If the solicitor was named as an executor (as was customary until recently) they would have felt entitled to charge a scale fee, which would account for the huge amount. If challenged they will back down.

    The last time I drew out a 4-figure amount in cash it was not queried. However I live in an affluent bubble [Richmond] where £4500 would be regarded by some as ‘walking around money’.

    I continue to be amazed by the problems that JW encounters in daily life that I, his contemporary, do not. Are they exaggerated for comic effect, I wonder?

    • Ah, but have you been whistleblowing on the rats nest of corruption as John has? Because it is only the whistleblowers and noisy victims of institutional abuse who refuse to just lay down in the gutter and die who get the sneaky skulking malicious vindictive persecution treatment that John has outlined here.

  26. John you are looking for words. Well “Gravy Train” has, of course, been around for decades. Wherever there’s easy access to somebody else’s money and murky accountability, Joe Public gets ripped off.

    Hasnt it always been the case, though ?

    Well perhaps, but the scale has really intensified over that past few years to the extent it’s now instutional – M.P.s , Council executives, EU bureaucrats , the BBC, Quangocrats, the PFI service providers, , Bankers, CEO’s, Lawyers, the big Charities, Union bosses……

    Basically this is a whole class of people, utterly determined to profit handsomely, at somebody else’s expense, at no personal financial risk, for providing little, zero, or negative in return. Yet, moreover, they’re not just brazenly deluded enough in believing their rewards are merited, they convince themselves, by benchmarking each other, that they are hard done by.

    No Gravy Train really isnt adequate

    How about “Bistocracy”

    I cant find it in Wikipedia. Can I claim it ? Can I patent it ?
    Where’s my royalty cheque ?,

  27. John, you have just described the reason that the British economy is now rotten to the core. The academic/economic name for it is “rent seeking behaviour” – asking for money to do SFA.

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