Friday, October 7, 2011

Ch-ch-ch-changes (Bank fees and Bullshit Part 2)

There are times in my life when I just want to stand in the middle of a paddock and scream out at the heavens, at the top of my lungs "What the fuck?". I doubt the universe would provide any clarity, but I'm sure it'd make me feel better. I just want to close my accounts at the bank. It's not like I am a multi-millionaire with a large portfolio of debentures, term deposits and stock options. I have two accounts, one that hadn't been used in almost two months, and neither with very much money in them.

After walking out of the bank (OldBank) last Friday, I went to the bank (NewBank) with which we have our mortgage. Fired up by my experience at OldBank, the first thing I said to the accounts manager after he ushered me into the little cubicle was "I want to open an account but I'm not paying any bank fees. We have our mortgage with you so you're already getting a good 2 grand a month in interest. I think that's enough don't you?"

"Of course." The accounts manager smiled. I sat silent for a moment, he meant, of course there will be fees, right? Possibly sensing my confusion, no doubt evidenced by a stupefied look on my face, he added "There will be absolutely no fees on this account, other than the other ATM fee, I can't do anything about that one."

"Really?" I said. "I kind of expected a bit more of a fight." He laughed. "No, we value our customers. We aim to keep them happy." Then he offered to get me a cappuccino. Astounded, I took a moment, before double checking that I was actually in the right place. "This is NewBank right?" The accounts manager laughed even harder. He asked me which bank I'd been banking with and I explained to him what had just happened at OldBank. He was horrified. He said they get a lot of people who have left OldBank.

I spent the weekend feeling infuriated and annoyed. What is OldBanks problem? Dealing with them had become so hard and generally unpleasant, so much so, that I actively avoided going into the branch as much as possible. I realised that OldBank treated me like it was doing me a favour by letting me bank with them. Now that I had experienced a little of what NewBank was offering, the uncordial environment of OldBank was even more unsettling.

I wish money wasn't important and that by extension the bank you keep it in wouldn't be important either but money is important (especially if you're a fan of material things like food, clothing, shelter, m&m's), and I don't earn enough of it to be ok with a bank casually taking a good chunk of it every month all while treating me like I'm it's bitch.

I called OldBanks customer service line several times. The first person I spoke to kept repeating "You need to go into a branch", another got really fired up insisting I lodge a formal complaint, in fact he would do it for me if I didn't. Sigh.

It wasn't until today that I was able to clarify the process for closing an account via the customer service line and then actually close the account at a different branch. The experience today wasn't much better than the last, which makes me think that this style of 'customer service' is a symptom of OldBanks  general business philosophy moreso than one isolated employees mentality. I find that sad.

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  1. You're right and this is something I've been thinking about blogging on for a while.

    It's almost as if the new model of customer service is an absence of customer service. In certain industries, they know you need them, they know the competition is just as crap, so they see no reason to do it better.

    Glad you managed to finally extricate yourself from OldBank. It sounds seriously dodgy.

  2. Hello,
    I have a question about your blog. Please email me!

  3. @David, sadly due to way too many spamming me with emails about how they have "cured" themselves and for just $49.95 they'll share it with me, I don't give out my email address. Please feel free to ask any questions here though or on twitter if you prefer. :-)