Blacktown, NSW. July 18, 2014. The long queue leading to teller windows went beyond the entrance to the bank. There were at least 15 people lined up, just to reach the entrance — plus another 30 people from the entrance leading to teller windows.
That was no exaggeration! I counted because I was at the end of the line. It took me more than an hour to reach one of only 2 tellers deployed at that time. Many of the people following the long queue were elderly senior citizens. One complained that the bank was wasting our time. One roving employee responded: “We are trying our best.” I retorted: “Your best is not good enough.”
Cost savings at the expense of Customer Service
It was many years ago when I opened an account at St. George Bank, Westpoint Branch in Blacktown. They had at least ten teller windows and customers could just grab a ticket from a numbering machine, take a seat and wait for the number to be called. It was very convenient especially for elderly and disabled customers.
But that has changed over the past several weeks. They have drastically reduced the number of teller windows from 10 to only 6 and most of the time, there are only two tellers attending to customers — sometimes only 1.
Except for one sofa, seats have been removed and customers now have to follow a long queue that oftentimes extend beyond the entrance of the bank.
With billions of dollars they make in profits before tax, the greedy bank appears to be seeking more at the expense of customer service.
Customer’s deposit credited to wrong account
It appeared to be a computer glitch or a classic clerical error but the bank pointed the blame to its own customer.
Some 7 years ago, a medical doctor from Rooty Hill nominated her existing account at the Mt. Druitt branch of St. George Bank to be the depository of dividends derived from her PERLS III investment with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.
Being a very busy medical practitioner, Dr. Mercedita Reyes noticed that dividends amounting to some $3,400 were not being credited to her nominated account at St. George Bank. An examination of her account details at St. George revealed that one digit was missing.
Somehow, a “zero” prefix was added to the account number resulting in multiple credits to the account of another customer.
Whenever this writer makes a deposit at St. George, the teller usually asks the name of the account to which the deposit is being made. It is apparent that the bank did not make an effort to contact the doctor.
Because of confidentiality mandated by the Privacy Act, St. George Bank could not reveal the name of the other customer. It was unknown if the other customer had withdrawn the unexpected bonanza which did not legally belong to him/her.
It was only through the intervention of the Financial Ombudsman of NSW that the bank returned Dr. Reyes’ money.
Return to the ticket system and increase tellers
The ticket system was working very efficiently until someone with a not-so-bright idea recommended that it be abolished. Under the previous system, people, especially the elderly could just grab a ticket, take a seat, relax and wait for the number to be called.
But, as of this writing, senior management has been very stubborn in wanting to rake in more profits via teller reduction at the expense of customer service. Customers are unhappy and will eventually close their accounts. I will surely do it unless the bank reverts to the former ticket system.