Important thing #1
If you want your bank to take notice of you, you must:
- be someone important (I'm not),
- know someone who works there (I don't),
- have a gazillion Twitter followers (nope) or
- have a Bizcommunity column (yup).
Because then, and only then, do they sit up and acknowledge your existence. This is very sad. Because it means that 95% of the banking population could well be ignored forever if they attempt to raise an issue via the traditional channels.Important thing #2
Companies lie. Not because they're malicious. Not because they're sneaky. In fact, many companies would love
for their lies to be true. But simply because it's the best, quickest, most compelling way to part us from our money. And because it looks so good on paper, sounds so good on radio and makes a helluva TV ad.
This is even sadder. Especially for me. And I've had good cause, over the last week, to seriously evaluate how I will go forward as a writer in this industry.But - what happened next?
About 24 hours after my Bizcommunity diatribe about the uselessness of FNB
, and my shocked admission that Standard Bank seemed to be on the ball for once, I received phone calls from two very serious high-ups, one from each bank.
[I also received my first missive from the elusive @Rbjacobs
, who - until that day - had ignored me for three weeks. The extent of his efforts? "I'm sorry to hear about this & my apologies for any inconvenience. Pls mail me on email@example.com; I'll be happy to help."
must email you
? I don't think so, buddy. I'm the pissed-off consumer; you
I didn't reply and he didn't follow up. I wasn't holding my breath, of course. But wait, there's more.]The FNB response
The FNB higher-up who did call assured me that they took seriously the failure of their online message thingy, and were "investigating" it. They asked several questions, more than once, many of which were loosely based on, "Are you 100% sure that you actually sent us a message via our website?" (Am I an idiot?)
They had no answer for the Twitter and email silences (which, I've subsequently discovered, are common once people actually express an interest in switching), but they did ask permission to have "a top salesperson" call me about switching.
Fairly snottily, I informed them that they'd wasted enough of my time and that the person could call me only
if they'd been thoroughly briefed as to my existing bank accounts, needs, banking dislikes, expectations and current bank fees.
S'true's Bob, I get a call from Jane*, an FNB head of sales. She's very keen to woo me. Nice change. She talks me through the switch, which includes easy debit order transfer and automatic internet beneficiary carry-over. She mentions the app. She explains the fees, which are lower than what I'm paying now (but don't cover a whole lot of the things I actually need and which I currently get). She raves about the SLOW Lounge (to which I can't take my own husband free of charge). And she tells me how passionate she is about FNB. (Yay. They pay you, honey.)She can't tell me
Unfortunately, she can't tell me what I'll end up paying in fees, total. She can't advise me on whether or not to migrate my Marketlink account. She has no response to my explanation that I use a Discovery card for miles and to save 35% on flights - other than to cite eBucks (which gives 25% flight savings at best).
But she can
tell me to leave my bond where it is, with Standard, because FNB can't beat its interest rate. And, perhaps worst of all, when I ask her to sum up why I should switch in one sentence, she says, "Because of our value proposition."
Which is? "Well, Mrs Markham, we treat every single client as an individual."
That's nice. But my name is Ms
, and somehow, I don't believe you.The Standard Bank response
A week or so after my Biz contribution, the nice lady from Clearwater
calls me again. She wants to "wow" me, she says. Standard Bank is serious about keeping me - and my money. (She doesn't say the last bit, but...) She asks a few questions, promises to review my various accounts and calls me back a few days later.
Can she schedule an appointment to come to my house, at my convenience, accompanied by a top private banker? They want to explain what they can do.
And they did. They answered my questions. They were prepared. They got my name right. They have an impressive offering, one that seems to meet all of my needs. So I've decided to stay where I am - but
I'm upgrading my accounts. And in the end?
After all this hoo-ha, I'm going to be paying Standard Bank about R1000 a year more than I was. No discounted iPad. No iPhone app. But, I feel special.Banks, you can't put a price on that.
Make us feel special. Do what you say you'll do. Have a kick-ass clever ad campaign if you want one, but be sure that you can deliver what you say you can. Give us the basics - reliably, consistently, uniformly. Otherwise, you're just another company that lies.
And, in the name of all that is holy in the universe, get our bleeding names right
*Not her real name.