What do you do when you need to complain about the Complaints Department??
Sorry, this is quite a ramble…bear with…
Several weeks ago, I received an email from Westpac, advising that statements on Mum’s Deeming Account would now only be available via Internet Banking as an e-statement, and if we wanted to query it, to call their Telephone Banking number.
Mum’s independent tech skills are pretty much neutral, and she insisted she wanted a paper posted statement, even if she had to pay for it.
She is aged, has significant mobility issues, and is profoundly deaf, so finds understanding what people are saying on a phone call very difficult, and this in turn causes anxiety. So generally, I do all the calling and talking for her.
We called Telephone Banking, and I explained what we wanted done, and Mum’s situation. I explained her disabilities, but they were insistent she would have to visit a branch, because they couldn’t I.D. her through speaking to her with no interference from me. She was sitting right beside me, and I had the mobile on speaker, so they could clearly hear what both of us were saying, including if I needed to repeat or clarify anything for her. That wasn’t going to be good enough for them-they wanted to speak directly to her, and only her. So then the Customer Service (??) person told us there was an option for hearing impaired people-would we like to be put through to them? We agreed, and without further explanation, and us thinking we were remaining with Westpac, he transferred us to the National Relay Service. The recorded message asked us to enter the phone number we wanted, including the area code. There is no area code for Telephone Banking, just the 6 digit number, so I entered this. (As an aside, just how did they expect Mum to be able to hear and understand THIS on her own??) The NRS message didn’t recognise the 6 digit number, and asked us to re-enter. Being a cognitive adult, and also someone who has worked for Westpac long term in the past, I CAN enter a six digit number without making a mistake…and the service then said we had exceeded our tries, and hung up on us.
By this time, I was pretty angry, but I called Westpac back. This time, the Customer Service person once again said they could not help, but when I asked to speak to a supervisor (multiple times), told me they would say the same thing, and refused to put me through. Then she suggested the Complaints Department, so I finally got transferred. All this to tick/untick a box so Mum could keep getting mailed statements.
This person agreed to speaking to Mum with the phone on speaker, and I kind of prompted her where I could. The I.D. process was completed, Mum’s request for posted statement actioned, and a Telephone Banking code set, so there shouldn’t be any drama “next time”.
Let me add here that Mum lives with me, and we are going through the process of sorting her house to get it to a saleable position. Most of her mail is still going to her house, including the bank statement.
Lo and behold, a few weeks down the track, I get another email saying her e-statement is ready for viewing. I swore to myself, and thought “They haven’t done anything at all”. No statement turned up in the mail.
Mum’s been quite ill for a few weeks, so house visits have been sporadic at best, so when I received another email re e-statement being available, I was livid.
So trip out to the house, which is half an hour away, and sure enough, no statements in the letterbox.
So now I have the correct codes for Mum’s Telephone Banking, and I ring and just ask for Complaints straight away. The guy I get is all umming and ahhing, because, as I explained to him, I don’t want to know ANYTHING, I just want what was supposed to have been done by the Complaints Dept on the LAST phone call, rectified!! Nope, they won’t help AT ALL-even when they’ve clearly got notes from the last complaint to verify. Aaaannd, we’re back to Mum having to go in to her branch…
So I asked about a Third Party Authority, and whether they still exist. Yes, we can do that-BUT…that will let me transact on her account, but not make any changes to the statements. So, I can clean her account out and do a runner, I just can’t change the statement so she might find out about it…LUNACY…
So our ONLY option-if I can’t get Mum to the branch, and I can’t, is to get a certified copy of her Power of Attorney (which is at the Solicitor’s) and take that to her branch, and get them to change the statement back to mail.
So when I’m supposed to be home caring for her, I’m running around getting a copy of the POA, and going to the bank. And to top it off, the person that handles the certified copies at the Solicitor’s is away, and could be off for a week.
All this because Westpac’s Complaints Department won’t fix their own stuff up.
Oh, and the topper? When the guy from Westpac Complaints was signing off the phone call, he ended with “Cheers!!”
I wanted to thump him…
What do you do when you need to complain about the Complaints Department??
That is insidious but a sign of the times. A lady I know recently ordered some tiles for her reno; the order had her name and address but the tradie’s phone number since he would be collecting them. She rang the shop to advise the tradie would be there to collect the tiles that day but they would not talk to her since they claimed they had to verify her identity but she did not know the tradie’s phone number so ‘her details did not match’ and they refused anything further. All she wanted was to give them a heads up for collection, not even information.
Back to Westpac - last year I had some issues with them and eventually lodged a formal complaint and got a ticket number. A named ‘Customer Manager’ was assigned to resolve it. It became apparent Westpac’s complaints ‘resolution’ process is to manage the customer (hence the title of Customer Manager) and tick a few boxes, not to resolve the complaint.
I checked AFCA to see if it was an avenue for you but they apparently will not take on a complaint if there is no financial loss.
Since you have tried the phone/verbal route, you might best put the entire issue in a Letter of Complaint format, in writing, and send it on to a named executive at Westpac.
Please let us know if and how get beyond ‘nowhere’.
One way to solve this problem may be as follows:
Have an a/c with the same bank as Mum and when you open it ask to be a signatory on her account. That should give you internet rights to her a/c (to at least view the a/c online, download and print statements and more often than not, to transact on it as well).
Three solutions come to mind:
(a) If you have an a/c with Westpac, then at the branch ask to link (for the purposes of online banking) your and Mum’s accounts.
(b) If you don’t have an a/c with Westpac, then move Mum’s a/c to your bank and notify the Feds of the change in bank;
(c) An alternative to (b) would require you to open an a/c with Westpac and link it to Mum’s a/c, merely to access her statements online.This option is I believe the least prefferred option.
I’m doing all her banking/bill paying already via internet banking-no issues there, and I know I can print off statements as well. She’s just very specific about getting service she’s entitled to ie the mailed statement. She didn’t ask for them to stop sending it-it’s a blanket decision made by the bank. She’s been with Westpac/Bank of New South Wales basically her whole 79 years. I feel they are showing zero regard for their aged clientele.
My issues are
(a) So I asked about a Third Party Authority, and whether they still exist. Yes, we can do that-BUT…that will let me transact on her account, but not make any changes to the statements. So, I can clean her account out and do a runner, I just can’t change the statement so she might find out about it…LUNACY…and
(b) my main point being that Westpac can clearly see notes from the first phone request, can see that they haven’t fulfilled their promised service, but refuse to fix their own mistake.
So, ZERO follow up or customer service.
When I worked in a branch, Westpac had a saying “Do it right first time”. Clearly they don’t give a rat’s any more.
Do you have a durable power of attorney for her? It is different from an authority ads they should have explained about them.
Getting one on file might be a minor hassle but should be doable. Some orgs accept a certificated copy, others demand an original, and some expect you to become a high vault champion
Thanks Phil, yes we have. I’m going to pick up copies from the solicitor tomorrow, and then on to the bank.
@Shazz The fact is what she deems reasonable ie rcvg a stmt is not what Westpac will do in this case, it seems. Worse still, you may be conned by a promise by Westpac to do this only to have the stmt mailings cease sooner rather than later. Clearly Westpac doesn’t see much upside in providing to folk what many consider reasonable service.
Have you inquired with othe banks or financial institutions if they offer this service? Then again, even if they do, there is nothing you cna do if they stop providing stmts in the future.
I suggest you convince Mum that your online access is the best solution, given every other solution will cost $ and will inconvenience you
@PhilT As to your comment on PoA, I have not looked at the link you posted (as I am at work and can look at it later) but wanted to share a couple of points.
In my experience a PoA is expensive for the benefit it seems to provides in this case.
I discussed the matter last year with another Big 4 bank at the behest of a relative. Contrary to what I assumed, ie
that my solicitor would draw up the document, for IMHO an unreasonable fee, the bank staff insisted on its
preferred documentation and surprise surprise offered a solicitor who wanted an even more unreasonable fee, from memory $700+GST.
exactly why I included
This Canadian site provides a topical overview for Canadians and many points may be applicable locally. Whether a POA is accepted by any particular bank seems an issue in most countries.
Australian states also apparently have their own differing ‘wrinkles’ to POAs.
You might be interested to review the lawyers fees schedules. On one hand they are paid to know and traverse the legalities, but on the other they are mostly using standardised templates for more mundane issues.
have you tried a complaint with the banking Ombudsman?
That has been rolled into AFCA - no financial loss, no problem, as posted on their web site.
OH…MY…GOD…I am currently sitting here in a state of shock. I just logged in to Internet Banking to pay an account for Mum, and I thought I’d just take a look at the “Services” menu. Hmmmm…“e-statement settings”…with a button to change to “Paper Statement”…so I’ve changed it…myself…no thanks or advice that this could be done from Westpac Complaints Dept, or Telephone Banking. And no trip required to the solicitor or Branch. Now have an even more burning desire to complain about the Complaints Dept…
Buy some shares in Westpac and then ask embarrassing questions at the AGM. Unfortunately the minimum parcel is $500.
Oh I’m still debating the complaint letter. 4 different people and not one thought to mention we could do it ourselves…
Sometimes they are so rigid it become a matter of suggesting to a third party that she could do it herself rather than we could do it ourselves and they miss providing the generalised answer. Financial institutions often have rules about sharing log ons and accessing someone else’s account. As a result they do not even hint at it for fear of breaking that mantra.
Westpac agents could have provided a generalised response and explained their customer web site allows all sorts of preferences to be set, including statement delivery, but that could jeopardise them if noticed in a review of those fabled training recordings. Them volunteering person A could change a tick in person B’s account would not be on. In their world of ‘security’ that information should only be conveyed to person A by person B under any circumstances save for having a [bank] POA on file. Changing a preferences tick is different from transacting
They are worried about something like paper statements being changed to online so the technically challenged non-internet account holder becomes unaware of transactions and person A uses their account for their own personal benefit. But when one has an authority?
Orwellian, and been there.
I hope changing the setting to “Paper statement” works. I’ve done so for my credit card at Mac Bank and they still send it by email every time, so I end up printing it out myself each month.
2 posts were merged into an existing topic: NBN speeds below national average - did NBN run out of money when they rolled NBN to our area?
It probably wasn’t on their response script.
POA can be no cost if you do it yourself.
This is giving in. This Mum has the right to a paper statement if she wants it, and the right to still belong in her world, not pushed into a digital world that is strange to her. Relying on someone else’s internet access is taking away her agency. It’s her money and her account, and she has the right to deal with it on her terms.
I don’t think she has that right for paper statements posted to her. Is it spelled out in the terms of the account? If not, then the bank has the obligation to keep her aware or her balance and transactions. That would be via her access of her nominee’s access to her account via online banking and bank statements accessed electronically through online banking,
As I mentioned earlier, even if posted statements were somehow agreed to by Westpac, they could, say in a few months, change the policy to stop any statements be posted.
Also, if posted statements is what she is after, she is free to change banks to one that offers that service. In fact, she should look beyond banks and to all financial institutions that could offer such a service. But again my point is that even if she found a bank that agreed to post statements, there is nothing to lock such a bank into posting statements for ever and a day. As I know, banks can change their policies with 30 days’ notice to customers.