LAST week, I received three unsolicited telephone calls purporting to be from one of the larger Scottish banks. A previously-unknown voice announced my full name including my seldom-used middle name. The caller helpfully supplied me with a number and instructed me to phone without hesitation.

I did not do as instructed but that same week I received several texts, all stipulating immediate contact with a number included in the text. This time I did follow the instructions and phoned the number. My call was immediately answered by a man with a strong Scottish accent – Sandy, I will call him. Sandy was humanity itself. He oozed empathy. Then, quite quickly, he cut to the chase and asked for my sort code and my account number. Inside just 30 seconds Sandy had plummeted in my estimation from future Nobel Peace Prize winner to Dr Mengele. Sandy is now dead to me.
In any case, while this drama was being enacted I took time off to attempt two online purchases from two separate companies. My debit card – previously accepted by both companies as perfectly legitimate – was refused. So then I did contact my bank using its contact details. As for call number one, for the most part I could not understand the adviser nor could she understand me. The call ended in mutual dissatisfaction but my lingering fear was that she now owned my house. This fear prompted me to phone again. This time I could understand a fair amount of what was being said and the call centre employee was able to decipher much of my diction. The upshot of this call was: yes, I had attempted two online purchases; and yes, again, my card had been rejected by both companies. That was it. No next steps.
In a last throw of the dice I sought help from the local branch of the bank. Kerry, the bank clerk who assisted me, was meticulous to a fault. It did take her some time but she detected one fraudulent payment from my account. This, she thought might represent an initial testing of the waters. Kerry spoke to someone at Fraud, then organised a new card for me. In the space of 25 minutes she made my life appreciably less complicated.
Now, my problems buying a book or a football ticket online are pretty small potatoes. Their impact on Wall Street will be negligible. But they did give rise to anxiety and none of them were of my own making. I am fairly certain that these issues would have remained unresolved had I not had a face-to-face meeting in my local bank.
Martin Brennan, Greenock.

• LIFE was so much easier back in the day. You could phone up a company and speak to a person, now after pressing 1, 2, 3 and 4 you might manage to speak to a person, but more often than not you're informed by an automated message that you're in a queue and your call will be answered eventually. If you received a bill you paid it. Now we have standing orders and direct debits and little or no contact personally with bank personnel, replaced by online banking. 
We have utilities accounts always asking you to increase your direct debit as they can now apparently manage to look into the future to inform you that if you don't you will be in debit.This at a time when you are using little or no gas or electricity. 
As stated initially, life back in the day was just so uncomplicated. If you had  financial problems you went to the bank and talked it through, now there are very few banks and my nearest branch is 12 miles away. 
Computers have taken over. Years ago I attended a computing course entitled Computing for the Terrified and at its conclusion I was even more terrified. 
Neil Stewart, Balfron.

Read more: Worried about poo in Scotland's waters? It's not the biggest problem

The star of Kelvingrove
YOUR Salvador Dali article ("Dalí’s masterpiece to ‘return home’ for first time in 70 years", The Herald, May 24) reminded me of the late 1950s, when I used to accompany pupils from local primary schools to lectures at Kelvingrove. How they loved the various topics illustrated with artefacts from the collection – the curators struggling to fit into sections of medieval armour were always a hit.
The children would be asked which painting they would like to see again as they walked through the gallery on their way out. Their request never varied: “Jesus hanging off the Cross." The wonder that this constantly inspired would have gladdened legendary Kelvingrove director Tom Honeyman’s heart.
Isobel McEwan, Skelmorlie.

Don't poo-poo this notion
ANENT the subject of waste in the sea that has assailed our senses in the past few days ("Worried about poo in our water? Well, it isn’t our biggest problem", The Herald, May 23) can I pass a general comment or two? Is it not the case we are now consuming produce that comes under the general heading of "junk food" whereby our bodily digestive system does not find it of any purpose and discharges it in time-honoured fashion but in greater profusion? Those of a scientific and academic persuasion may well pour scorn on this but I aver that in years past we, in general as a population, ate basic wholesome food with comparably little "waste".
Many of my forebears lived in the village of St Vigeans near Arbroath and I recall one set of grandparents, as did others both in the countryside and in town, had a dry privy, but being country folk they duly had it contain lime which my grandfather cleaned out from time to time and used the contents on the plot behind the cottage to grow his vegetables. Whether this was good practice can be argued over but I can vouch for the size of his rhubarb crop both in leaf and stalk provision. Now that was recycling.
My opening paragraph is also apposite for the mess that dogs now leave in their wake. This also applies to cats that deposit in my garden from time to time. What dreadful food are they now consuming? Akin to that for us humans?
John Macnab, Falkirk.

A stitch in time?
YOU say in your TV listings (May 24) that "Sarah Pascoe welcomes 12 new sewers to the competition". Thank goodness they’re doing something about water quality at last.
Michael Watson, Glasgow.