The Gebesse Blog

Thoughts from the world of technology and business

Banks! How we love to hate them. And why.

Back in the days before Internet banking, I used to have a Visa debit card with Bank A that I used for business purchases. My company cheque account was at Bank B, but they didn’t have card access to cheque accounts at the time. I had to make a big purchase so I bought a bank cheque and went across to Bank A to deposit it into my Visa account. I asked to be reassured that the money would be available immediately and I was told that it takes five days to clear cheques. I pointed out that this was a bank cheque and was therefore really cash. They offered three-day fast clearance for $35.

I took the cheque back to Bank B and told them that I wanted it reversed and the money back in my account immediately because Bank A seemed to think that Bank B’s cheques might bounce. The teller told me that they couldn’t deposit it back into my account because it was made out to Bank A and had not been endorsed for deposit into my company’s account. She then said it could be cancelled. For a fee of only twice what I had paid to get it in the first place.

It was the closest I’ve come to getting arrested in a long time, but I refused to leave the bank until the branch manager showed me on a computer screen that both the cheque amount and the purchase fee had been reversed.

I eventually left Bank B because after I had been banking with them for 17 years I transferred my credit card merchant facility from Bank C to Bank B. Someone came out to my place to install the terminal and teach me how to use it. I rang the bank and asked them to switch on MOTO (mail order, telephone order) because I am a consultant and I never see clients’ cards when they pay their bills. (I had signed a paper at installation time saying that I had been trained in how to use MOTO.) After about a fortnight I got a letter telling me that they couldn’t do it because they didn’t know anything about my business so I couldn’t have it. After 17 years.

I got the facility from Bank D. (Me on the phone: “Can I have MOTO switched on please?” BankGirl: “Just a moment. [Sound of keystrokes] OK, now switch the terminal off and on to reboot it” Me: “Yes, it now gives me the option, and lets me type in card numbers” BankGirl: “If you have any more problems just call us”.) I then contacted Bank B and told them to come and take their machine away. They charged me $55 to cancel the facility they had told me I should never have got in the first place and which they would not let me use.

I was not a Bank B customer a week later.

(Names have been changed to protect both the guilty and innocent, as well as to protect my assets from the hands of defamation lawyers.)

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