Thursday, February 16, 2017
A good letter gets results
I have always found it easy to write and as a result I write a lot of letters, mostly by snail mail. So when I see something happening that I don't like, I don't just bitch about it. I send a letter to whomever is likely to be able to fix it. And it will be no surprise that I have written to the big bosses of banks quite a lot. As I think everyone reading this will know, banks can be very frustrating
One thing that has been bothering me a bit lately is the way Australian banks keep closing branches or downgrading the services that they offer from a branch.
For a while there was a sort of mini-branch of the Commonwealth babnk right next to where I often go for brunch so that was very convenient. I rather liked the looks of one of the female tellers they had there too. Even we oldies can admire from afar.
But it was of course too good to last. The tellers were abolished and you were expected to do everything through a sort of super-ATM they had installed. There were however still some staff there to help people who could not do what they wanted with the ATMs.
So recently I walked in with a big cheque that I wanted to deposit. But the place was full of customers waiting for personal service. So I decided to give up and visit a real branch the next day. But where was there a real branch? It is not easy to look up. They have a list of branches online but some of them have been abolished and there is no way of knowing what services the remaining ones offer. In a couple of cases there were phone numbers I could ring but when I rang I got only an answering machine that had no answers that I wanted to hear.
What to do? I also have an account at the Bank of Qld. and I have never had to wait long there. So I went in to my nearest branch, found two tellers behind the desk and only one person ahead of me. So I deposited my cheque, was given a printed receipt and walked out happy. Because of their poor services, the Commonwealth missed out on getting my money despite considerable efforts on my part to give it to them. Amazing.
So I wrote a letter. Here it is:
28 December, 2016
Dear Mr. Narev,
As a CBA shareholder and a customer I am appalled at how your standards of customer service have slipped.
I went into your recently downgraded Buranda branch today and found a big queue-up of people waiting for personal service. I had a big cheque to deposit that I was not willing to entrust to your machines. I left rather than wait. Please reinstate its former status
I then went online to find an alternative branch near me. I wanted to find one that had full service. There were several possibilities. But the phone nos. for them were not provided. So I went through the rigamarole of calling your general number. When I was eventually put through to the branches, however, all I got were answering machines that were as uninformative as your website.
After all the hassle I deposited my cheque with another bank.
Why can't you have more contact details available online? Are you afraid your customers might talk to you? Can't you get it into your bald head that customer service matters?
In the absence of an accommodating reply from you, I will raise the matter at the next AGM.
I got a reply from someone called Emma Taylor who did little more than restate her bank's policies. So I wrote another letter. Here it is:
Dear Ms Taylor
Thank you for your letter of 19th.
I am disappointed that Mr Narev did not see fit to reply to my letter in person. A year or so ago I wrote to Richard Goyder of Wesfarmers and got back from him a courteous handwritten note. Perhaps Mr Narev has more dissatisfied customers than Mr Goyder has.
I have found your reply in which you do little more than restate the bank's policies quite unsatisfactory. So I still have comments that I wish to address to Mr. Narev. The following is for Mr Narev's eyes only:
Dear Mr Narev,
I am sure you find as revolting as I do the old stereotype of the fat Jewish banker smoking a cigar, wearing a top hat and looking contemptuously down his long nose at the simple people whom he exploits.
So why in G-d's name are you doing your best to validate that image? You are Jewish, you are head of Australia's largest bank and you treat your customers with contempt by making it as hard as possible for them to contact you and your officers.
WHY do you not have on your website a phone number for each branch? You are constantly changing your branches and what each branch does, so people need to enquire in advance to ascertain what services are available at a branch they intend to visit.
I myself some months ago was going to be in the Stone's Corner area so looked up your webpage and found the Stones Corner branch listed as fully functional. It was not. I made the trip there to find it closed down.
So if it is such an enormous problem to provide phone nos., could you at least keep your website up to date with the level of service offered at each branch? It is surely an elementary courtesy.
And it might even be good business to upgrade your services. The extra costs could result in happier customers who do more business with your bank.
In the absence of a reply from you, I am inclined to post a copy of this letter on the net.
Dr John Ray
There was no reply. BUT, today I had another large refund cheque to deposit. So after my brunch I wandered in to the nearby Commonwealth branch that had given me problems previously. Hey Presto! Big change! A teller's counter had sprung up again, everybody in the branch was being helped and there was a lady standing at the teller's counter waiting to help me. Very different! Exactly what I had asked for! Even though Mr Narev was too grand to reply to me, someone somewhere in the bank must have sprung into action. My letters got results.
A Leftist would of course have found my reference to Mr Narev's origins to be RACIST! Even though I was writing with the intention of helping Jews. I have in fact been a great supporter of Israel since I was a kid. My immersion in the Bible made it permanently clear to me that Israel is the proper home of the Jews.
Some extended background on my thinking about that is here