Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Creative banking

Unlike most New Zealanders, I’m actually not that fond of banks.

I am unable to get funds out of this one particular bank, for reasons that remain mysterious to both myself and the bank. Let’s call it Eastpac, because I’m sure if I used its real name I’d be charged a fee for it.

I found out this week that I’d been charged a $35 missed payment fee on my credit card.

This was of some surprise to me as I only have one fixed term deposit account with them (which keeps mysteriously getting renewed regardless of my instructions and without my permission, but for me to break it, I will have to incur a fee), and I don't have a credit card.

Being a naturally curious person, I rang the bank and asked why, when I don't have a credit card, there was a missed payment charge taken out of my forever-fixed deposit account.

"Well sir," said the pleasant Bangalorean (who of course happily lives and works in the Palmerston North call centre), "you failed to make a payment after we issued your statement."

"But," I cheerfully pointed out (still puzzling over the "sir" reference), "I don't have a credit card with you."

"Yes sir," the nice woman said, "but after you receive the statement you have to make a minimum payment of $10."

I thought perhaps I was not making myself clear, so I sought to explain my position further.

"Yes, but I do not have a credit card with you."

"Yes, but it wasn’t a payment. You were retiring debt."

"Isn’t that what a payment is?" I asked, out of a genuine desire to know.

"No. A payment is what you do after you get your statement."

"So anything I pay before I get my statement is not a payment?"

"That is correct sir."

"Even if I don't have a credit card with you?"

"Thank you for calling Eastpac. Please call again, sir. Beep beep beep beep beep beep....."

I have long accepted that the world is stupid and I try my best to accommodate this. Except when a bank refuses to give me my money back, and then steals bits of it for no reason.

And, no, I don't like it that the government does the same thing to me.

In both instances, I also don't like that I am totally powerless to stop the theft.

And I particularly don't like that I am now $35 poorer.

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