It’s been a long time coming. South Africans are not only gatvol with their banks’ greed and lack of consideration – they’ve started to fight back.
In January this year Mr DC Bailey of Empangeni received a letter from Abbey International in Jersey, in which the bank advised him that they had “noticed some unusual transactions” on his Abbey International Gold Visa Card and wished to speak to him about them. They claimed they had tried to call him, but had been unable to reach him, so would he please call them on their Jersey telephone number?
Mr Bailey immediately left his office and rushed home to retrieve his credit card file. He carefully studied his most recent statements, and then called Jersey – only to be told that there did not appear to be a problem with his account.
His subsequent letter to Abbey International tells the story:
“Analysing your letter, it appears that paragraph one is untrue. There were no such transactions. Paragraph two is probably untrue also: no attempt was made to contact me. It seems from my discussion with your staff that this was a promotional letter. They said they had had other complaints about it.
“As you have wasted a lot of my time, travel costs and an international phone call, I intend to fine you one hundred pounds for my trouble. You are well aware how you charge your customers for various offences, so I am doing the same thing. Seems fair to me.
“I do not wish to benefit from your extraordinary approach to business, so please make payment to Oxfam and let me have a copy of the receipt.
“In case you think me some crazy that can be ignored, or believe you can send me apology letter No. 7, do not even try. If this is not immediately settled I will:
- Write to your CEO;
- Write to the Consumer Council and the banking ombudsman (if you have such a thing)
- Copy this correspondence to the press.”
A month later Mr Bailey received confirmation that Abbey International had sent a cheque for fifty pounds – half the amount he had demanded – to Oxfam in his name.
So he carried out only half his threat: he forwarded his correspondence to Mr Nose. Good man!
And, can you believe it, barely a month earlier Mr Nose’s old forensic friend Dr David Klatzow in Cape Town had decided on much the same course of action to punish First National Bank’s Vineyard Branch.
On 20 November he called his bank to give them notice that he wished, the following day, to withdraw a fairly large sum from his account in cash – the sort of amount security-conscious banks don’t generally keep in their tellers’ drawers. He required it for a client who would be travelling 100km to Cape Town to collect the cash. Fine, said the bank, thank you for telling us. But next day, when Klatzow and his client arrived at the bank, they’d forgotten the request – and, sorry, didn’t have that amount in cash, why not come in again tomorrow?
Klatzow went home and sent the bank an invoice (No. DJK003) which specified the service rendered as follows:
“To our fee for extreme incompetence by FNB staff, who were not able to carry out client’s simple instructions, wasting of customer time and untold frustration endured by the customer.” The amount charged for this service? R1,500.
Then a special note: “This invoice is payable immediately. Failure to do so will result in summons being issued.”
Next day, you better believe it, R1,500 was credited to Dr Klatzow’s account.
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