An Experience with ANZ Bank: An All Too Typical Story of Aussie’s Interaction With Corporate Australia.

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I had a frustrating experience with ANZ bank today. Whilst this incident in isolation is nothing particularly major – although it did increase my blood pressure, I blog about it because this kind of thing is pretty much par for the course for interaction with any large Australian company. I hope that at some point corporate Australia will start to take note that us Aussie consumers have had a gut full of being treated like lemmings and we are actually interested in customer service for the money we give them. Particularly companies making billions of dollars profit. I also know that in the scheme of things this one incident is not world ending. I get that. But I seem to be constantly frustrated by my interactions with Big Business. Like how does Medibank Private get away with begging the Government in April to let them increase Premiums by 7% because of “cost blowouts” and then three months later announce a $1.248 billion dollar profit?

Calm down Pete. Breathe Breathe

So here is the story.

I have an ANZ Credit Card that I use for all my work expenses. I have just employed a new staff member Charlotte, and I wanted to get her a card linked to the work credit card.

So Charlotte and I visited the ANZ Branch at Coolangatta, Charlotte of course bought her Passport and License as she is not a customer and I knew that she would need to have the 100 point ID check. During the interview, the ANZ “Customer Service Agent” told Charlotte and I, that the system had changed and that they no longer do the 100 point ID system. I did express surprise but Oh well she is the expert. She filled out the forms, we signed them and left.

Ten days later, Charlotte’s card arrived. So today I went online to activate the card. The website said that the card couldn’t be activated. No reasons given. So I tried a few times thinking I had made some mistake. Consequently I rang the number on the sticker on the card, which is an automated system. It took me several attempts but after I had entered the details correctly, the automated system told me the card couldn’t be activated. No reasons given.

So I then decided to ring ANZ. Went online, found the general inquiries number and rang it….Press 1 to do this, 2 to do something else etc….After going through the machine and finally getting to the credit card menu I was asked by Robogirl what I wanted to do…..I made the stupid stupid mistake of saying “Credit Card Activation”. This of course put me through to the automated system I was by now quite familiar with. So I hung up and started the process AGAIN….After 13 minutes from the time I first dialled, I finally got through to a human. The human was pleasant enough as his fingers danced across the keyboard to find out why my card couldn’t be activated. “Oh it can’t be activated because Charlotte hasn’t been ID’d yet.” Cue increase in blood pressure. Excuse Mr ANZ Phone Man, could you please repeat what you just said….Which he did.

I then told him the Coolangatta Branch Story only to be told “Well the teller got it wrong.” I then asked how could something so fundamental to banking be got so wrong by a staff member. I did not get an answer.

So I jumped in the car and made a pilgrimage over to the said Branch on a quest to get to the bottom of this and surely be told that the card could simply be activated.

I walked into the Branch. I kid you not: there was not one other customer in the bank. I pressed the appropriate button to get a dehumanizing ticket so I can join the queue of one person. I did smile at the thought that even when I am alone in a bank I have to queue. I waited with incredible anticipation and increasing blood pressure for 7 minutes…..Yes I had started timing things by this stage.

Finally I was called into one of the booths….I explained to the “Customer Service Agent” what had happened and I did slip in: If this can’t be resolved simply by you activating the card, ANZ will lose me as a customer. The ANZ CSA simply looked at the screen and said…You can’t close your account until you have paid off the card. She then explained that Charlotte would need to be ID’d. I explained my frustration at the situation. She looked and me and said well that’s the way it is.

I walked out. I had been an ANZ customer for 18 years.

And then rang the Mobile Banking Representative from Westpac.

The issue here is that you can substitute ANZ for any of the major Australian Companies. You can be given advice that is just plain wrong, act on it and then its your issue when the company says Oh you did the wrong thing. My frustration is that ANZ cared absolutely zero that they had caused the issue that was now costing me time. My frustration is typically there is no accountability for staff members. They are nameless and faceless and we the customer get screwed without any recourse except to go some where else – which clearly they don’t give an ounce of care about.

I think for the amount of interest I pay each year, the annual card fee, the addition cardholder fees etc, I would have at least got some customer service.

Let’s repaint the scenario: If the ANZ rep on the phone had heard my story and simply said “Sorry for the inconvenience, we will shoot an email through to the Coolangatta branch manager and inform them of wrong advice you were given so they can talk to the staff about it. We also have a mobile banking officer. If you get Charlotte to bring in the ID details he will drop into your office tomorrow and once ID’d he can activate the card on the spot”

It would have been a different outcome for ANZ.

Anyway that’s what I think

Peter Pilt

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5 replies

  1. You nailed it. Zero initiative, zero care factor.

    I transferred everything from ANZ to Suncorp for living in Qld and they’ve been fantastic with both personal and business banking.

    Best wishes!

  2. I too had a negative experience with incorrect information being given. Although I was able to put in a claim for additional expenses, there didn’t seem to be an apology. Would have made me feel they cared at least.
    Judi Daniel

  3. Sometimes this incompetence can be a good thing as in that famous line on the Monopoly board ‘Bank error in your favour.’ Trying to do the right thing is not as good as finding a loop hole or taking advantage of lazy bank employees or getting around rules somehow, they’ll never notice. Demanding $100 for the inconvenience, in a stong assertive voice, has worked for me in the past. Their reply is often ‘We’ll credit $100 in your account, Sir, as a one of good will gesture’. Using the phrase ‘I was told’ also gets things put through when moments before you faced a brick wall. Play them, don’t be played. There’s always the cash stuffed mattress as an alternative and use Paypal for everything else. Good luck.

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