BRITAIN’S largest insurer, Aviva, yesterday refused to rule out job cuts across its 3,350-strong Scottish workforce, as it revealed that, by 2007, it plans to have moved 7,000 UK jobs to low-cost centres in Asia.I would be rather more impressed with Aviva's plans if they were operating efficiently at the moment. I recently cashed in a pension policy that had been invested with Norwich Union for many years. I was told that the lump sum element of the policy would be in my bank account "by the end of last week" and that the first monthly payment would be in my bank on Monday of this week.
On the basis of this advice I placed a long overdue order for a new car. The lump sum wasn't in my account by last Friday. I waited until Monday and neither the lump sum nor the monthly payment had arrived. Monday was a local holiday here in Edinburgh and there is always some confusion about which holidays are observed by our banks so I waited until Tuesday and then called Norwich Union. After numerous attempts to get through on various phone numbers I was eventually told that someone would call back that afternoon. No one called. I phoned again on Wednesday morning and, eventually, someone called me and said that he would release the money and that it would be in my account on Friday. I am now hoping that the cash does indeed reach my bank tomorrow and that the new car doesn't arrive (from Korea!) today.
The sad thing is that none of this is unusual. Norwich Union is no worse than many other companies one has to deal with. I recall that my late father had all of his personal documents pertaining to the house, banking, savings and insurance in a small metal file about the size of two shoeboxes. Despite computerisation, I have to keep a vastly greater quantity of paperwork than did my father.
Will the Indians manage our affairs any better? Maybe - they don't seem to have a mania for destroying their education system. Whoever can sort out these nightmarish business inefficiencies will be the next Bill Gates. Except, of course, most of the paperwork is created by his products!