Progress report

Why yes! I am a little flustered, turning about in little circles, and having to remind myself that this is all for a PURPOSE.

Some things have gone very well this week. We have moved into a holiday cottage, everything in our house has been cleaned and packed up and sent on its way to New Zealand, the house itself has been thoroughly cleaned and the roses pruned and the paths swept, and the sale went through very smoothly yesterday. Mostly.

We had one issue. And it was a corker.

On Thursday evening, after a hard day of cleaning (I was exhausted!), we went out for a meal. I took out my eftpos card to pay, only to have it rejected, twice. That was embarrassing. I put it on our credit card instead, but wondered why on earth I couldn’t access the funds in our account, especially because my last lot of wages had gone in that day.

On Friday, we both tried to withdraw some cash, with no luck. It turned out that our bank had frozen the funds in our account way back on Wednesday, without telling us, so that they could process settlement on Friday. They kindly told us that we should be able to access our money again on Monday. We were left facing the weekend with only a small amount of cash, and an aversion to using our credit card to get a cash advance (the interest rates are outrageous).

Mr Strange Land saw red. He also went to see the bank. It turned out that instead of freezing enough money for settlement, and leaving the remainder of the funds in our account available for us to use, the bank had simply frozen the entire account. We had money sitting in the bank, that belonged to us, that was not needed for settlement, and they would not allow us to access it. Sorry, they said. That’s just the way it is.


My husband has many excellent qualities, and one of them is a refusal to give way in the face of mindless bureaucracy. He sat in the bank, and insisted, persistently, that they give us OUR money. Eventually, one of the bank officers found a way to process a manual transaction to give us the amount of cash we should have been able to withdraw from any ATM. “Would that do?” Mr Strange Land said “Yes” very promptly, got the cash, and left quickly, before they could change their minds.

While he was sitting in the bank, watching the bank officers flap around trying to work out what to do, he calculated the difference between asking our bank to manage sending our money back to New Zealand for us, and doing it ourselves via HIFX. The fees are neither here nor there, but the exchange rate they offer does make a difference. $10,000 difference.

We are very glad to be leaving this bank, which offers callously indifferent service and high fees. We could have coped with the freeze on our funds, if they had the decency to let us know in advance that this was their process, so that we could have ensured that we had enough cash on hand for the weekend. But it’s a bit richly ironic that their advertising slogan is: “Determined to earn your business.”

Grumble grumble grumble.


12 responses to “Progress report

  1. I’ve been with that bank for ten years, bought and sold and refinanced several times with them, and never heard of such a thing. Outrageous! And good on Mr SL. I sometimes fantasise in these situations about taking along a thermos and a sleeping bag to show I meant business, but he is clearly assertive enough not to need to.

  2. Well done that man
    It does pay to take a firm hand with banks when it is your money
    And when in the past it was their money I suggested the problem was theirs and they dealt it accordingly

  3. That sounds somewhat like our experience this time last year. The dragon slayer bank not only had not drawn up mortgage papers for my son and not told him. Two days before settlement. Again without telling him, they had sliced $200,000 off the loan . He was frantic. Not only that, but they did not turn up to settlement. Said they knew nothing which was blatant lie. Huge removalist truck was sitting in the street packed for several hours while solicitors frantically wangled a later time. 40°++ on the day too. He moved every single account from that bank, including several investment properties, as soon as he could after Christmas. How does one find a spare $200,000 in two days at Christmas?

    The laugh was on them. This property was a bargain. Townhouse next door was sold at very much higher than son paid here, and a new valuation six months after we moved in valued ours at $200,000 more than he had paid for it. They thought it was worth that same amount less again. An overall difference of $400,000.And not a word of any of this was said to him.

  4. That’s pretty ordinary. Last year we refinanced our mortgage and so closed one of the mortgage accounts and rolled it into the remaining one. Except that the bank stuffed up and closed the wrong account and so instead of rolling it into the account that our wages went into, they closed that one and rolled everything into the other one. This happened on the 23rd of December, which meant we were on holiday when it happened. Bank manager sent an email to our work addresses (which I happened to see because i logged on remotely). And luckily we were able to quickly get our payrolls to fix up our details or else our pays would have gone into the unknown universe and who knows how long it would have been before we got our money back!
    Bank Manager reckoned he rang one our our mobiles and left a message but neither of us had any missed calls.

  5. Outrageous all right. I can recommend Kiwibank back home; they have been thoroughly straightforward and good value (and NZ owned).

  6. Jeez I think there’s a lesson here – and it’s not the one about avoiding the use of Aussie banks. It’s – don’t ask your bank to do anything important just before a public holiday!

  7. And it ain’t just banks — my husband bent our then brand new Astra, two days before Christmas. No injuries apart from embarrassment!
    Rang the insurer (at that stage NOT NRMA) and was cheerfully (suspiciously cheerfully!) told to ring back after the New Year – they were all off to their Christmas Party! Consquently the whole process of repairs and what not meant we were without the Astra for about three weeks longer than really necessary.
    Thank goodness we had not traded in the 16 yo Subaru.
    And wasn’t I evilly glad that HE was the one that forgot the HANDBRAKE.

    Gae, in Callala Bay

  8. I think a quick call to the banking ombudsman to make a wee complaint could be in order. Good on Mr Strangeland staring them out.

  9. “The fees are neither here nor there, but the exchange rate they offer does make a difference. $10,000 difference.”

    How can the discrepancy between exchange rates between one bank and another make THAT much of a difference? Unless you are gazillionaires, in which case – question withdrawn.

  10. Alas, we’re not gazillionaires. But the exchange rate differential was very, very bad.

  11. Wow, that’s outrageous. I’ve been involved in a few sale and purchase transactions both professionally and personally and have never encountered a need for funds to be frozen. It’s offensive.

  12. Banks are weird creatures. My father managed to purchase a building without a mortgage after the bank fucked up its paperwork.