Saturday, June 26, 2010

Honourable Bank Fees

If you have a cheque account,do you know how much your financial institution charges you for cheque dishonours? When you do not have sufficient funds in your account to cover the cheque and it causes the institution to collapse from the pressure exerted on them by having to cover your cheque so that they payee can receive their money, do you know how much they charge you for that unspeakable inconvenience?

We're with the Greater Building Society. We have a fee free savings/cheque account. Well it's not entirely fee free because they do charge $30 for a cheque dishonour fee. I believe the NAB charges $45. Maybe the extra $15 is to deal with the extra advertising and administrative costs associated with being one of the Big Four.

Anyway, here's my story. It's a story about honour and common sense and good customer service.

We wrote a cheque to pay a specialist doctor's bill. At the time of writing, there were sufficient funds. My pay is deposited into the account every week and every second week I receive an additional pay packet from my other job. Three weeks after I wrote the cheque and one day before I was due to be paid, the doctor cashed the cheque and it bounced. GBS said you owe us $30, and the doctor said we had still to settle the account and pay the $45 that their bank had charged them for the cheque bouncing. Does that even make sense? So, we were up for $75 on top of the original bill because of bad timing.

I know the official line is that it is the responsibility of the cheque writer to make sure there are sufficient funds to cover the cheque. Fair enough, but it's a bit tricky when you have no idea when the person you pay with a cheque is going to cash the thing, and you use all available funds in your account between pay packets to pay bills. I felt this was unfair.

To cut a long story short, I asked GBS to waive the fee which they did, and then I wrote to the doctor to say that, having made a cash payment for the original invoice amount, I now considered the account settled and they should talk to their bank about the $45 because there was no way on earth that I was going to pay it.

I thank GBS for being fair and rewarding us as loyal customers, but this is just one small example of the kinds of rip offs and little injustices that go on all the time. Sometimes you just have to stand up and say 'enough', and this time I did. I encourage to do the same.

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