|>>|| No. 5062
>How corporations can delete your existence
>Let’s call her Laura. In September, Laura was out in Leeds City Centre, buying some bits, when her card was declined. Funny, she thought. She definitely wasn’t in the red. But these things happen, so she left the shop, tinting crimson, and dashed towards the nearest cashpoint. But her card wouldn’t work at the cashpoint either. She tried another one. With the same result. Laura opened the banking app on her phone. It said only ‘error’, then automatically closed. She finally abandoned her shopping and went into the nearest branch of Santander. There, the counter assistant seemed just as mystified. After about an hour of waiting, though, Laura was called through into the manager’s office.
>“I’m going to read a statement out for you,” the manager said. “But I’m not going to be able to answer any of your questions after that. We have locked your bank account. We can’t give you any more information. We might be in touch in future with more information. But we don’t know when that might be.”
>Could she have her money? No. But how was she supposed to get home? After all, she lived eight miles outside of Leeds, and now she had no bus fare. Apparently, this was not the bank’s business. This low-rent version of The Trial went on for another three weeks. Frequently, Laura would phone up Santander customer services. She’d be put on hold for ages. Then the phone would just go dead. She wrote to Santander to complain. They wrote back: they weren’t interested in her complaint and wouldn’t be taking it any further. Meanwhile, her rent, standing orders and Direct Debits stacked up, the late fees and penalties mushroomed around them, as life tumbled towards chaos.
>Nearly a month on, she received a letter from Santander: Under the terms and conditions… we can withdraw banking facilities at any time, and in line with company policy we don’t give further details.
>The account had been closed. Without apparent irony, the balance had been appended as a cheque.
Reading that was quite unsettling. What is going to be the impact of unpersoning in a society that is increasingly cashless and driven by online transactions?
Gordon Brown tried to instate a right to a bank account but it was shot down by the banks themselves. I think it underlies how our society is now underpinned by effective public utilities that remain subject to a belief in a right to refuse service and which then effectively become tools of social control outside of the remit of even the state - an AnCap dream maybe but more like a nightmare that borders on the social credit system of China.