Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Which bank? Oh, that one celebrating 100 years of SUCKING

Let me tell you a tale. A tale of poor customer service, of which I have had absolutely enough. Okay, to be fair, this really is a straight up whinge. You know what they say, when you have a bad experience you tell 10 people. Well, I hope more than 10 people read this.

This tale involves my partner (let’s call him Josh, as that is his name), a bank (let’s call them a bunch of assholes. Or Commonwealth, as they’re also known) and an overseas trip.

There we were, gallivanting around Europe, putting all our money onto a Commonwealth Travel Card and enjoying our holiday. Then, BEHOLD! A spanner in the works. We tried to withdraw 400 Euro at an ATM in Rome, using our card, which, according to Commonwealth’s advertising is a:

“…safe, convenient and simple way to access your money overseas”


Well, the money did not come out and the ATM said something about a link failure, so we tried again. Alas, same message, same no money.

I tried my card (BankWest – owned by Commonwealth but clearly less retarded). Same error message, same no money.

We get back to our hotel, and check the balances on our cards. Mine was fine. However, the 800 Euro (from our two attempts) on the travel card was gone!

We immediately called CBA, only to be told there was nothing we could do except fill out a form. Oh, a PDF that we can fill out online? No, of course not. Get form, send to reception to print. Fill out. Back to reception. Try to fax form. Try to fax form again. Wait till next hotel. Try to fax form again.

This is difficult when the reception staff don’t speak great English.

Look, I get that annoying things like this happen on holiday. But what really makes this incident FLAWSOME was CBA’s attitude.

The staff Josh spoke to could not have been less helpful and more condescending.

Not only did they take our money, but we were informed it could take up to 60 days to get our money back. Well that’s completely helpful, obviously, especially when we’re overseas.

Then, there was the way they not-so-subtly suggested that we could have been lying about the cash. It’s always good when your bank works off the assumption that you’re probably trying to steal from them.

The most helpful advice they could offer us?

“I don’t know – why don’t you borrow the money from friends or something?”.

This, accompanied by “We’re doing everything we can to help you.” GAH! Why do people in the service industry think saying that is a ‘Get out of jail free’ line?

You’re not helping at all, let alone ‘doing everything you can’.

You are doing, in fact, nothing.

Actually, I will correct myself – they were doing something: passing the buck to MasterCard, who ‘own’ the product. That may be the case. However, CBA, you SOLD it to us, it has YOUR logo on it as well…you see where I’m going with this.

How about this, CBA – why don’t YOU lend us the money? You, who have f*#ked us over. You, who Josh has been a customer of for some 15 odd years.

Thankfully we had other money in different accounts, so our holiday wasn’t disrupted too much. And eventually we got the money back (SHOCK! HORROR! Turns out we AREN’T thieves!), but quite frankly, the whole incident has left a very bad taste in our mouths with regard to CBA. And, needless to say, we didn't get back the $160 we spent on phone bills trying to sort out the matter.

As such:

Commonwealth Bank of Australia?



  1. Hey,

    While I don't agree that they should have suggested that you were being dishonest in anyway, I honestly do believe that they did everything they could. And, I know, you might think that this is ridiculous, since they did nothing but pass the buck. Well here's the thing. If they could help you, why wouldn't they? At the end of the day, it's not MasterCard who loses a customer (well yes, but they have a much larger agenda, don't they?), it's the CBA and they'd sooner try to help you than make it difficult.

    For example, I was in Sydney and one of their ATMs dispensed nothing when I requested $100, and I had nothing left in my account. Called them, two minutes later, the funds were reimbursed. And every other dispute I've had to lodge with them, I've been able to do it over the phone.

    So I don't know, it might just be the Travelmoney card that's a huge issue. But I really do feel bad for you, and I don't wish it upon anyone. Hope your trip worked out alright.

  2. The dishonesty suggestion I could almost was the 'Why don't you borrow money from friends or something?'. I mean, honestly?
    And thank you - the trip did work out okay. We had other money - it was just the lousy attitude (and the huge phone bill!) that was disappointing.
    We probably only dealt with three staff in trying to sort this out, and they're probably not a reflection of all the staff at CBA (in fact, I'm sure they're not). But in these days where we have so many options (banking-wise), three smug, condescending call centre staff on a small power trip is three too many.

  3. Ugh, it's for reasons like this that I hate the fact that my Dad is a CBA Manager. Business banking, not domestic but still, same bank.
    I'm just glad you had the money in other accounts- suggesting you borrow it was ridiculous, 800 Euros is a lot of money!!!!
    We had similar issues 6 years ago, in Rome too! It just makes you feel sick, and it is the last thing you want to worry about when on holiday.
    I wpuldnt blame Josh if he left CBA altogether.