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I just phoned my bank. Like many people, a few days ago I set up a new ISA. And this year the one that happened to suit me best was offered by the bank I use for day-to-day affairs. So in theory the whole thing should be easy. Right?

Initially it was very easy. I filled out the forms online, ticked all the boxes to declare I am behaving legally and skimmed through the terms & conditions before submitting the application. Then I went to print out a transfer form to send all of my savings from previous years to the new account. After that I just waited for April 6th to roll around so that I could fund the account.

Things continued well when I received a letter confirming that my account was set up and ready to fund. Which I then kept forgetting to do but which I attempted today. And hit problems. For some reason I could transfer money between all of my accounts except for the rather crucial step of current account to ISA. Uniquely (and despite there being no money in the account) I could transfer money out of the ISA. Something strange going on here!

I phoned up. And got the sweetest woman who I ended up feelng incredibly sorry for. Initially she asked if I’d signed a form for the ISA account. As I hadn’t she told me that I would have to sign it and send it back before the account became activated. Which seems reasonable except I hadn’t received one so she went into the account and discovered that it was fully active and money could be transferred in or out as I pleased. In theory, anyway.

After that there was a brief pause and a solution sought. The solution turned out to be that the poor woman on the other end of the phone was obliged to read me out the ENTIRE declaration so that I could confirm I was behaving legally. On paper this is usually a sheet or two of A4 with fairly small font. To read it out took something like 8 minutes. During which I tried to stifle my laughter because the whole situation struck me as screamingly funny, even if the poor bank employee was probably cursing my name.

Eventually she tailed off and I piped up ‘I agree’ and things progressed. She transferred my money and we ended the call. Me to go and giggle quietly in a corner and her to presumably go and get a long drink and maybe a throat lozenge. Banks, always a giggle.

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