Dear Anthony Mathews,
I’m writing to you today to let you know about my extreme disappointment with St George Bank. It pains me beacause I have been a very loyal customer over the decades — I have been with St George since it was a building society.
I was so young on my first visit to the local Hurstville St George branch, that I even signed my name for the very first time, on one of those separate pieces of paper (for one of those little passbooks everyone used to get). I was so young and naïve. I can still remember asking my late father how to sign my name. His reply? “Just spell out your name in running writing”, he told me, somewhat hurriedly. So to this day, that’s how I sign my name.
Yesterday, I checked my available balance and made a bunch of very small purchases under $15. Pathetic little purchases, for art materials. There was also one bigger transaction that went through around the same time. Of course, that went through successfully, even though that purchase was made several days after the other ones.
So what has happened is that a St George Bank computer algorithm has slogged me with fourteen direct debit dishonour fees. All in the same day. 14 direct debit fees that are around half the total value of the purchases! Why, that makes your lending rate 50% daily interest!!
I wouldn’t mind so much, because I know computers can make mistakes. I’ve seen them do it! Humans are different. Humans are more compassionate, right? Wrong.
Because earlier today I rang up St George phone banking to try and sort out the issue. After no less than 10 attempts at dialling 13 33 30, I eventually got through. And I spoke to a young man named ‘Jacob’. I was polite although Jacob said that he could not reverse those transactions.
But really? That seems odd, that a multi-billion-dollar company cannot refund $70 to someone who has been with them for over 30 years. It is my money after all.
Even so, I was very polite to Jacob and he wished me a great weekend. Why argue? Why be grumpy? There are some things we cannot control.
$70 may not be a lot to you. But it is a lot to me right now. That for me is the equivalent of two days’ pay. That is the food on my table. Right now, I am doing it so tough, that I can barely afford to eat the recommended two pieces of fruit per day. So that is more than my weekly supply of noodles while I spend the remainder trying to make better art. Yes that $70 is the paper and other media that I need to remain “a starving artist”. So, no, I’m not going to have a terrific weekend, Anthony Mathews, No.
And I wouldn’t mind so much, except that I’ve been nothing but easy-going and polite ever since I was a small boy. I’ve been principled. I’ve been kind to everyone and kind to the environment as well. I was the epitome of “being a doormat”.
So instead of being angry, I’d like to personally THANK you Mr. Anthony Mathews. Why? Because you’re a tax-paying citizen and you’re effectively helping me to either study, become employed or self-employed. So thanks for that. Other countries do not provide anywhere near that level of financial support.
My point, Anthony, is that’s not even my money that St George bank has taken. It’s yours. It’s your tax money, Anthony! And your employer has taken it from someone that is working very hard to become self-employed (and I’m getting there, too, albeit slowly). How do you feel about that? How do you feel about a bank stealing your hard-earned tax dollars? Eh?
Other banks do not treat their customers this way. Just today, I signed up for a special ING-direct offer. They are giving me AUD$100 to join their bank. Imagine that, a bank that actually gives you money rather than taking it?
Now, I have been with ING before and I was able to save with them. But my main payments still always went into St George. Without exception. And I transferred it from there. I stayed with you all through those “direct saver account” years…
Your staff has always been polite and your branding is good. But today Anthony, what remains of my corporate brand loyalty has finally gone out the window. And being a designer, that says a lot. Because we love brands.
I don’t think I will ever forget my account number that I learned as a kid, oh two five, four two six, oh three two. I still can’t even recall my tax file number correctly. I’ll be sorry to see St George go, really I will.
On Monday 24th of April, I’ll be driving all the way to Batemans’ Bay branch. And I’ll be closing my beloved St George Account. Right now you would have to give me a hundred bucks just to stay. On top of the seventy you originally took.
leslie dean brown