Meet: Jill Hipson, the deafie who took on the banks

Posted on February 29, 2012

Jill Hipson, who lives with her husband Chris in Berkhamsted in Herts, found herself at the centre of a double-page story in The Times last week after having problems with her bank when she bought a car. Her letter to the newspaper led to an article titled ‘Banks face threat of massive payouts to deaf customers.’ We spoke to her to find out more…

What happened when you tried to buy the car?

A couple of days before I made the transaction, I went to my local branch to talk to them about it, as the car dealer would not accept cheques or bankers’ drafts. I gave them very detailed information: which car dealer, where it was, the exact amount and the date/time the transaction would be made. The cashier phoned debit card services and they said it would be fine; they would make a note on my records.

On the big day, Chris and I went to the car dealers to pay for and collect the car. But when I used my debit card and input the PIN number, the salesman was given a number to call. They said that they had to speak to me personally to authorise the transaction. The salesman explained I was completely deaf and didn’t speak, so I couldn’t do this. They also wouldn’t accept my husband taking the call, so in the end the salesman had to drive Chris and me to the nearest branch in our car.

When I got home I felt like I’d had an encounter with one of the Dementors from the Harry Potter books. All the life and joy had been sucked out of me. All that was left was a feeling of complete weariness and emptiness. I was so knackered I didn’t want to look at my lovely new car even though I’d been so excited about the purchase. I just had the energy to go upstairs to bed to hide under the duvet for a few hours.

You wrote to The Times about what happened. What happened next?

Laura Whatley, who writes the Troubleshooter column at The Times, spent some time talking to Action on Hearing Loss about the problems, and soon realised that there was a much bigger story to be told – I am far from the only deaf person who has had problems with their bank.

I was surprised and very very pleased by how much space The Times gave to the issue. Before I had written to The Times, I had written to my bank twice about the problem without the problems being resolved.

It became a double-page story. How did this make you feel?

It would be marvellous if this led to CHANGES for the BETTER in the way banks deal with deaf customers. There are so many deaf people who have suffered because the banks refuse to become deaf aware. It was actually the second time in 5 months I had had a problem because I couldn’t phone my bank. I got my credit card cut off in July when I was abroad because they queried a transaction and I couldn’t take their call.

You got compensation. How will you use it?

I haven’t accepted the compensation and will not be taking it. The matter isn’t resolved and they told me to buy a mobile phone, which isn’t a textphone… it’s the same word: “text”. But a vast difference between one and the other.

Have you changed banks?

Not yet but I will if this problem isn’t resolved. Frankly, it’d be easier if I just opened a joint account with Chris. The bank could then talk to him about the account to their heart’s content!

Interview by Charlie Swinbourne, Editor

The Limping Chicken is the world's most popular Deaf blog, and is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne. 

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