We probably all have some negative experiences with banks. These can range from mild inconvenience to horror stories. A little commonsense can help. Bank queues drive many people mad. Mondays can often be busy, as can Fridays too.
If you want avoid spending your lunch hour in a long queue, maybe your bank opens on Saturdays. If it does not, consider changing to a bank that does! Try to go to large branches with more tellers. Service at enquiry counters can take a lot longer than the tellers. If you require any specialist service, such as foreign currency transactions, do not leave it to the last minute – it can take a while to be finalized. Always get the person’s name for any service that is a bit complicated. This can save you trouble later.
ATMs can cause you headaches too. To avoid waiting in queues it is best to go to branches with a number of ATMs. Some are secure in a room, which you have to use your bank’s debit card to enter. These are fairly safe, but always be alert to what other people are doing. Make sure no else is watching when you enter your PIN. Choose a PIN with six digits rather than four – it is harder for people to memorise. Count your cash and quickly secure in your wallet.
The major banks have been closing many branches over the past two decades, but recently competition from smaller banks and credit unions has resulted in a slight reversal of this unfair trend – a few branches are opening up. But consider the smaller institutions if you are not getting the service you expect from the big banks.
Fees continue to be a major problem with some people with small balances who sometimes find that all their money has been eaten away by fees. Compare your fees with other banks and consider changing for an account that suits you better. If you have more than one product with a bank, ask to speak to someone about packaging your accounts to reduce fees, or seeing if they have other accounts more suited to your circumstances. Some banks have low or no-fee savings accounts for students and pensioners.
If you have a complaint about service, fees or an incorrect transaction, first put it in writing. You will probably need to obtain the correct form for whatever the complaint is about, often there is one for different banking services. Provide as detailed information as you can with copies of supporting documentation such as bank account and credit card statements, and also state the name of the person providing the original service, and the names of any other staff who have subsequently dealt with your complaint.
If you do not receive adequate resolution of your complaint you have the option of contacting the Banking and Financial Services Ombudsman. The Ombudsman can deal with many cases from individuals and small to medium businesses as long as the disputed amount is less than $250,000. For more information about how to lodge a dispute and the type of disputes the Ombudsman can consider.
Avoid bank queues by going at less busy times and to larger branches.
Visit branches with a large number of ATMs.
Compare different banks and credit unions for fees, service, number of branches and ATMs, and be prepared to change banks if you can get a better deal.
Put your complaint in writing.
If not satisfied with the resolution of your complaint, consider contacting the Banking Ombudsman.