In November 2011 I published an article entitled: Troubles at the 'Which Bank?" - Commonwealth Bank Australia in which I stated:
|R.P.BenDedek 2007 West Lake Hangzhou China|
Something is not right at the Commonwealth Bank. Definitely not right! But what will they do? I see that my reply has disappeared from the email records in my Commonwealth Bank Netbank Message Center. It is becoming more and more obvious that someone is playing with me and my account. Yesterday, November 10th I checked the online Commonwealth Bank statement again to see when my payment is due, and it shows that my last payment was made in October and the next one is due in December. I had already written and accused them of trickery, so I wasn't buying into this. (Nov 11, 2011)
My troubles with the Commonwealth Bank Australia started when I was charged a late fee on my credit card. After years of having a credit card with the Commonwealth Bank this was the very first time that I had not immediately paid off the credit card as soon as I used it. I had never previously had to pay interest on my Card.
From October 2010 through 2011 I kept paying monthly amounts and companies authorized to do so were charging me for my regular bills. After I complained about the unjustifiable late fee, I made an online purchase and about a month later my credit card was taken 'offline' while the bank 'checked suspicious activity'.
Well there was nothing suspicious about that transaction except that the supplier did not require me to use the new fantastic security measure that the bank had implemented, but while the bank checked out the situation, they removed all access to my credit card, including the ability to transfer money from my regular account to make payments or clear the card. (This is important and I will get back to it.)
I then wrote an article entitled: Open Letter to CEO Commonwealth Bank Australia
I guess in the final analysis, it doesn't matter whether your staff are idiots, malicious, incompetent, outsourced or untrustworthy. The only important thing is 'How big will your bonus be this year?' (Dec 4, 2011)
Here is an excerpt from that article:
As I sit in China, I have pondered the events which have led to writing this letter today, and the more I think about it, the more I am convinced that Commonwealth Bank staff are either/or and maybe all of the following:
Incompetent: There was a transaction that took place in America, as it does every year at that time, but it was a month earlier than when the transaction was flagged by your staff as suspicious. I certainly made no complaint to them about the transaction, so how come it took so long for your competent staff to notice this 'suspicious transaction'? Is it just a coincidence that they took my credit card offline immediately after a complaint and subsequent refund of an overcharge?
Untrustworthy: The email contact service within Commonwealth Secure Netbank is extremely unhelpful and I have been told that I must use a land line to contact the bank. I don't have one and personally know no one who does. Will you pay the cost of having one installed in my apartment so that I can call your bank? Your Staff tell me that they cannot discuss my Commonwealth Bank account with me through the Commonwealth Bank Netbank system. Is this because your Commonwealth Bank Netbank system is actually insecure? Or is it that your staff dealing with this section are untrustworthy?
Outsourced: I find it difficult to believe that you don't trust your Commonwealth Bank staff and think it absolutely shocking that my communications with the Commonwealth bank through my Commonwealth Bank secure netbank are not secure. I can only assume that the Commonwealth bank is practicing some kind of fraud on the general public, or that the staff contacted through the Commonwealth Bank secure netbank are not regular staff but 'outsourced' services and that the personnel are actually located in places like India, China, Vietnam or some place other than Australia. Naturally you don't want them having access to 'my' private details.
After two months of waiting to find out what was happening to my account, I sat down (after reading an article on line about the Commonwealth Bank), and wrote my own article entitled: CBA's CEO Ian Narev's Asian Dream
How will the Asian community view a bank which operates using minimal and/or outsourced staff, whose only incentives are related to how much the bank can charge the customer, and whose operational procedures tie them up in the law of unintended consequences, but without the power, authority or incentive to correct the flaws of the laws? (Jan 13, 2012)
Here is an excerpt from that article:
They have acknowledged through Netbank email my advice that I can't access that [email] account but refuse to contact me by my alternate email address or my mobile telephone number because - wait for it - This is the way they do business. I cannot for the life of me imagine a Chinese businessman's - scrub that - any Chinese person's reaction to the Commonwealth Bank Staff attitude. It simply does not compute in the Chinese Mind. At least in relation to my problems, the Commonwealth Bank exhibits the behavior of a rat trapped in a maze; one of its own making. The Bank was able to ignore its own privacy policies and ask my sister in Australia questions about the use of my card and my current location in the world, but it can't seem to ignore any of its other policies.
As I continued to stew over the blatant stupidity or the blatant maliciousness of the Commonwealth Bank Australia, I sat down to write another article. The article relates to the Commonwealth Bank's 'cultural ignorance', 'western superiority' and of course 'organizational insensitivity' (read 'arrogance'). Does the Commonwealth Bank really want to do business with Asians? Do they even begin to understand what life is like in Asia? And with those thoughts in mind I wrote China, and Western Ignorance
One would think that based on those two great truths that the Commonwealth Bank would have the organizational and managerial flexibility to deal with any situation to arise, but apparently they do not - OR - they don't wish to! But you just have to wonder if at the end of the day, the whole issue is not just about "a shortage of competent staff" and a lack of good old fashioned customer service. (Jan 22, 2012)
Here is an excerpt from that article:
Currently my credit card account is suspended because the Chinese government has blocked my email account. That's it in a nutshell. I can't access the account and the Commonwealth Bank not only refuses to deal with me via my hotmail account but also refuses to deal with me through the email service within my allegedly secure Netbanking system. Suffice it to say, that in China, the internet and email accounts are not as reliable as they are in the west. This is one of many things of which some westerners may be unaware.
China may appear to be a modern country, and in fact she is developing quite well in that direction, but if you have never lived as an ordinary Chinese person lives, then you really don't know what life is really like. The Commonwealth bank (although they failed when they tried to call me in Baotou on a landline) expect me to be able to just pick up my non-existent house phone and give them an allegedly 'free call'. The Commonwealth bank (although they have been told that I can't access it) expects me to access the internet and my kingscalendar email account as easily from China as I could in Australia.
They either haven't a clue about what constitutes 'real life' in China, or they expect me to break the Laws of China and invest in one of those systems that can bypass the Great Firewall of China. Not only would that be illegal in China, but if I had access to my credit card to purchase one of those systems, I bloody well wouldn't need to 'cause my credit card wouldn't be suspended!'
Some time after this article was published, my credit card account was made 'live' and accessible to me, and I immediately paid it off, well not quite. You see they had charged me a 'late fee' for non payment of monthly payments WHILE THEY HAD MY ACCOUNT IN SUSPENSE. I paid all but $20 off the outstanding amount and then emailed the bank about the ridiculous late fee. They immediately emailed me back with apologies and said they would credit the account.
That's when I took a close look at my account and saw that they had charged me interest on my account during the 10 weeks that they had prevented me from MAKING PAYMENTS or paying off the entire debt. That is Highway robbery and akin to tying a soldier's hands behind his back and then court-martialing him for failing to salute an officer.
This type of behavior is not permissible in 'Common Law' but then Australian Banks have their catch-all clauses (much like the Government of China) so that they can milk every drop of money out of you that they can.
Well of course I sent off another missive but that was like talking to a Communist and then a couple of weeks later I discovered that they hadn't credited my account with the late fee overcharge but had instead charged me $0.37 interest on my outstanding $20 debt. The mind boggles at the deviousness of the Commonwealth Bank. But then again, how else can upper management collect such sinful salaries?
So what do you think I should do about all of this? Am I a fool to complain? Should I never have complained about the way the bank milked me? Or perhaps you think that I am just a trouble maker? And what about the title I gave this article? Huh? "Australian Bank Staff Are Revolting". Well they are! Allow me to quote:
Disgruntled bank customers and former staff have joined forces in a bid to contest the next federal election. The Bank Reform Party, founded by members of Unhappy Banking, will seek registration from the Australian Electoral Commission once it has 500 formal members. Unhappy Banking was started off the back of complaints from 400 angry ex-BankWest customers, who claim the bank had been colluding with property valuers to force commercial borrowers to default on their loans. BankWest and CBA (Commonwealth Bank Australia) are among eight major banks being sued by a combined 171,000 customers who are seeking to recoup more than $220 million in excessive penalty fees. Unhappy Bank Customers start own party (www.couriermail.com.au)
Truly it can be said that both the Staff and the Customers of the Commonwealth Bank Australia are revolting. And so they should be! The Revolting Commonwealth Bank Australia (and others) who so blatantly 'sting' unwary customers, are soon to feel the sting of their revolting customers as they seek to recoup $220 million in excessive penalty fees.
But that's not all folks. The Australian Government is getting ready to pull in the reins (or is that the 'reign') of banks in Australia by making it just so easy for customers to ditch their banks and transfer all their accounts over to other financial institutions. According to a recent newspaper article 'Banks May Face an Exodus', 49 percent of bank customers say that they would likely change banks when the new procedures come into effect. According to one industry source, "Australians are itching to ditch and switch" banks. And is it any wonder.
One bank in Australia recently 'made redundant' quite a number of staff BUT FIRST made them train their 'outsourced' replacements (from India). Some banks are even considering 'hyping-up' their banks to make visiting the bank more attractive, by installing computer terminals and coffee machines. Oh My God! Banks used to be friendly places until (in Australia at least) they began charging customers additional 'fees' for doing transactions over the counter instead of using the automated teller machines. Then they began to close branches and even Automated Teller Machines, replacing them with the 'Multi-Bank' machines for which they charge the customer $2 per transaction. And now they wonder why customers don't find banks 'customer friendly'?
Banks have become a law unto themselves - legally entitled to 'charge YOU' for the privilege of using YOUR money and while complaining about their failure to meet higher and higher expected profit margins, they are paying more and more MEGA bucks to top management. Perhaps if they paid top management less they could afford to charge customers less and pick up some extra customers thanks to their 'customer oriented friendly service'.
Sadly they are not going to be doing that, after all, how are they going to pay the losses incurred in the upcoming class action against them? Not a worry! Insurance will pay for that!
Wish we could be insured against losses incurred through dealing with 'customer friendly' banks.
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MORE than half a million Australians do not have a bank account, with escalating fees putting them out of reach, a survey has found. The average cost of basic financial services, including bank account and credit card fees is almost $1800 a year, which many Australians cannot afford
R.P.BenDedek (pseudonym) is the Author of 'The King's Calendar: The Secret of Qumran' (http://www.kingscalendar.com ), and is a guest columnist and stand-in Editor at Magic City Morning Star News. He is also the Editor of the 'Writers Journal' at Kingscalendar.com. An Australian, he has been teaching Conversational English in China since 2003.
Writers Journal Kingscalendar
"The King's Calendar" is a chronological study of the historical books of the Bible (Kings and Chronicles), Josephus, Seder Olam Rabbah, and the (Essene) Damascus Document of The Dead Sea Scrolls.