It’s such a final word; one that means a complete severing of ties. But it’s a word that comes to mind whenever I think of the way my bank treats me as not only a customer, but a business customer.
I know we all have war stories when it comes to banks; but this goes beyond the day-to-day dealing with faceless agents over the phone or tellers who want to be anywhere but serving you at that moment. This is about the difference between doing the right thing and being forced to settle for something that is fundamentally wrong.
The most recent situation with this particular bank (trust me, it won’t help to name names) really had me questioning whether I should stay with them or not, but my struggle with this institution goes back a long way. To set the scene for you, I am both a business and personal customer with this bank. I have eight different accounts, including credit cards.
Like many business owners I have a bank account to keep my GST payments separate. This account is linked to my main business account so I just transfer small GST amounts there as they come in and when BAS time rolls around there is a chunk of money waiting for me to use. Instead of this relatively untouched money earning interest (which is what one would assume), I was actually being charged $5 fee each month (the account blurb says “no monthly account keeping fee on this account”) and a $2.50 fee every time I withdrew or transferred from it (the blurb says transaction fees are only charged when “monthly fee-free allowance is exceeded“, which I wouldn’t be if making deposits and only transferring quarterly).
Needless to say, this excess of fees totally defeated the purpose of having a GST account and, after 18 months, I’d worked out that I’d been charged $140-odd in fees. When I explained the situation to the teller, they did not apologise or offer any type of advice regarding how to fix the problem. And to make matters worse, I had to transfer $10 to close the account!
When the floods hit Queensland in 2010/11, The Transcription People (TTP) lost a lot of business. We have quite a large base for transcription in that state and I made the decision not to recover any outstanding invoices (and there were a few) from those clients affected by the floods. This put me in a difficult financial position and meant we needed an overdraft to get by until cash flow increased again.
Whilst I may have been showing compassion and understanding to TTP’s clients, my bank was doing nothing to help me with my business or personal finances. This bank refused to lend me any money unless I bought our home mortgage over, which was a sore point for me (and still is).
So, you can see my bank and I are not friends. The only reason I’ve stayed with that bank is the amount of accounts I have there, which would mean a huge amount of paperwork to go through to change. And, since I’m being honest, I’ve had such poor service from two other major banks that I figure they are all as bad as each other!
Is it worth severing those banking ties and taking a chance on the final option of the Big 4, or better the devil I know?