When I returned to South Africa after living abroad for 9 years, I was surprised to find how far the quality of service at Nedbank, a bank I've dealt with for 30 years, has slipped. Here's a small fraction of the problems I've had, all leavened with being asked "to whom do I have the pleasure of speaking?" every time I've contacted the call centre.
For a start, my cheque account was a on a low monthly charge, high transaction fee structure, which was suitable when I had a low number of transactions on it. This I could change, but the change only took effect in the next billing cycle. In the meantime, I was waiting for a credit card, and used my cheque account card for shopping, and incurred transaction fees at a rapid rate. Had I opened a new account, the new transaction fee would have applied immediately. Why should it cost me more as an existing customer than a new customer who walked in the door?
Then there's the credit card. For a start, I was treated as a new customer with no credit history on setting the credit limit, and told this could only be reviewed in 6 months. That set me up for feeling positive about a 30-year relationship.
Then I had a failed transaction on my cheque account. The merchant tried the transaction three times, then I gave up and paid cash. This showed up as three purchases and three reversals with six transaction fees. I am still waiting for those to be reversed more than a month later.
The one that really took the cake was when I bought some prepaid air time for a couple of cell phones, using my credit card on the bank web site. All three transactions incurred an "SST transfer fee". In Nedbank terminology, "SST" means self-service terminal, the machines they have in branches, so this immediately looked odd to me because I did an internet banking transaction. What's more, for a purchase, no transaction fees should apply. After complaining several times, these were reversed, no reason given. I have not since bought air time on the web site, as I was unsure if the reason for the problem was resolved. When my statement showed up, I was charged 73c for finance charges, despite paying before the due date. Another round of calls to the call centre (actually, several call centres: I tried the complaints department, who said I should talk to the card division, who referred me to the SAA Voyager card division: by this time, I was thoroughly sick of "to whom do I have the pleasure of speaking?").
I think I made the point to them that I was sufficiently fed up that they should refund the 73c as well, but they ended with telling me this is the last time. Yes. It's also the last time I buy air time online from them, and if they really want last times, I'll be shopping for another credit card.
I do not phone a bank call centre because I want to make a new friend. I call them to solve a problem. Substituting fake politeness for competence is not a win. Get the same fake politeness a dozen times without useful effect, and you feel like throwing up when you get it again.