When I was a teenager my father went with me to a local bank to open my very first account. The bank manager, a family friend, was exactly what bank managers used to be – conservative, avuncular, nicely dressed. He positively exuded TRUST! And my father said “Always remember the bank manager is your friend. And that the bank is the best place for your money.”
How times have changed! We don’t have bank managers any more; they have gone the way of those other dinosaurs, financial accountability and customer service. TRUST? Don’t make me laugh. Banking today is awash with scandal as over-paid CEOs and other senior staff vie with shareholders to grab and mis-spend your hard earned dollar. Maybe if you’re Warren Buffett you might get some customer service – but if you’re Josephine Average, forget it.
I embraced internet banking with enthusiasm. The fact that sometimes I can’t get into my accounts because the site is for some reason unavailable I have tried to bear with patience. The other fact, that if for any unfortunate reason you should need to contact them direct you will wait for up to an hour gnashing your teeth on the phone I have born with less patience. Banking today is not for wimps! And certainly not for the elderly who were raised in a different and more gracious era.
The only reason I bank with the National Australia Bank is because it was one of the two banks on Tamborine Mountain to offer counter service. You could actually go in there and meet REAL people. And there was a handy ATM outside. A few months ago they arbitrarily closed this branch despite Tamborine being a growing community – and likely to grow more as a dormitory suburb for the Gold Coast and the new satellite community of Bromelton. Customers were not consulted. Instead they got an insulting letter from some bloke in Brisbane telling us how wonderful the bank was and how it had our interests at heart. Oh yeah? Do they really think we fall for that stuff? They even took away our ATM!
So this week I have bought new a car and need to pay for it. Because, even in this digital age, bank transfers take up to three days, and as the car is ready to collect tomorrow, I wanted to pay by bank cheque. Remember cheques? They do at least have the virtue of taking effect immediately. So we ring the head office and after the usual long wait we are told we will have to get a cheque from the Nerang Branch – a 40 minute drive away. Knowing full well that this will mean queuing for gawd knows how long (bearing in mind our ages) in a bank in a hot and horrible place we try to arrange for this to be ready for collection. But, oh no, that’s MUCH too difficult for the modern bank. We are told that the Nerang Branch “isn’t answering its phone”!!!!!!
Well, obviously we are not going to take the risk of going down there and suffering all the usual mucking about that passes for customer service these days. It’s too stressful. So, we have to delay picking up our new car from the dealer while the bank takes its own sweet time to transfer OUR money – just a few kilometres to Robina, down the road. No wonder people rob banks – it’s probably the easiest way of getting your money out!
If you go onto the NAB website you will be able to read all the guff about how socially responsible they are and how they offer services to those with language difficulties, visually impaired, otherwise challenged etcetera etcetera and sobloodyforth! How about offering some service to ordinary people…or, more importantly, those customers who are elderly and often frail and who need all banking transactions to be as simple and straightforward as possible. THAT”S customer service.
Banks are so big that it’s difficult for any of us to do anything about them. We can’t fight them, or appeal to their better natures – in fact today it’s almost impossible to get into any meaningful contact with them at all. We put up with them because we don’t know where else to put our money. All we CAN do is vent our rage on social media – oh, and of course be as difficult with them as possible. When I have time I shall amuse myself by continuously ringing them up and tying up bank personnel with frivolous questions, going into what I call my dithering Margaret Rutherford old lady act. Bombarding them with ridiculous queries. Going into bank buildings – when one can find such a building – and dithering around in the queue and at the window. If I can’t be a respected customer I can at least be a damned nuisance. Because the one thing we oldies DO have is time!
Oh and by the way, I am going to transfer my accounts to Suncorp – because that’s the only bank we have left here on the mountain. At least one can go in there and deal with real people and sort out problems in THEIR time without hanging about on a phone line or web line.
Goodbye, NAB, it’s been no pleasure knowing you.