NatWest Bank has apologised to a customer after a business manager accidentally left him a three-minute voicemail mocking his financial situation – and calling him a “KNOB”.
Nathan Eames, 39, received a call from a business team manager to discuss the feedback he had recently left in a customer service survey.
The call went straight to answerphone and the business manager left a polite message requesting he call her back.
But the worker then failed to hang up properly and immediately began joking with colleagues and poking fun at Nathan – unaware the voicemail was still recording.
She jokes: “God, I’m glad he wasn’t there, ’cause he’s a knob.”
Nathan, who declared himself bankrupt in 2009 due to the financial downturn, said he was “shocked” at the message.
The freelance photographer said: “Going bankrupt was an extremely difficult decision for me but, at the time, I didn’t feel I had any other choice.
“But the bankruptcy was completely discharged and, for the past five years, I have been trying to get back on my feet.
“So to hear someone, who doesn’t know me, insulting and mocking me to colleagues was completely unjustified and demoralising.
“Natwest should train all their staff to understand the complexities of going bankrupt. It was the hardest thing I have ever done.”
Nathan, from Poole, Dorset, declared himself bankrupt in January 2009 after falling into financial difficulty during the economic slump.
But after getting himself back on his feet, he contacted his local NatWest branch in January to enquire about a £10,000 short-term business loan to enable him to buy a photography studio.
His application was turned down and he was told that he had not been discharged long enough from bankruptcy.
But he didn’t let the hiccup get to him and instead he began putting money aside each month in the hope that he could then fund his dream.
Two weeks ago NatWest got back in touch with him and asked him to fill out a customer satisfaction survey.
Nathan said that the survey was mainly a tick-box exercise, but when asked for his comments he told the bank he felt they should consider giving loans to applicants whose bankruptcy had been fully discharged after five years.
Then, one week later, on the 22nd June, he was called back by the bank to discuss his feedback.
He didn’t take the call but got a message on his voicemail from ‘Sarah’ – believed to be Sarah Shah, the Business Specialist at NatWest in Salisbury, Wilts.
She said: “Yeah hi, a message for Nathan, it’s Sarah, the Business Specialist at the Natwest in Salisbury.
“It’s just a quick ccourtesy call following your feedback on the 2nd of June with the monthly business banking survey.
“If you could give us a call back on **** and ask to speak to the North Dorset business team, thanks then, bye.”
She thinks she has ended the call at this point and then says to her colleague: “Why? Oh really? God, I’m glad he wasn’t there, ’cause he’s a knob.
“He’s complaining but it’s so clear. It says.. No, no, he’s put on here ‘as ex-bankrupt I do not get anything from you” as her colleagues burst out laughing in the background.
Their are further eruptions of laughter as she adds: “Start considering lending to ex-bankrupts’ are his comments.”
Nathan said: “I was appalled when I listened to the message. I was actually working at a wedding and couldn’t believe what I heard.
“Being rejected for a loan is one thing – but being subjected to a torrent of abuse by ignorant people, completely lacking in empathy and compassion for my situation, is quite another.
“I am not an idiot, I’m a hardworking father of two who is trying to forge a solid career so I can provide for my children. It’s a disgrace.
“I’m now considering closing my business bank account with Natwest. I’m not prepared to give them my business when they obviously hold me in such low esteem.”
A Natwest spokesperson said: “We apologise unreservedly to Mr Eames.
“This is not the behaviour we expect from our people and we are currently investigating this incident, dealing directly with the members of staff involved.”