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Banking lesson learned (updated)

January 13, 2014

Well, I learned a lesson from my bank at the beginning of the year.

My bank/credit card expired at the end of 2013 and I had fully expected I was going to get a new one in the mail. The expiry date came and went and no card. I left some feedback through my internet banking service asking to be called (with no response), so then I called to find out what was going on. The representative on the other end wasn’t much help and said that someone would call me later in the day to get it sorted. In the meantime I was welcome to come into the branch and pick it up in person. Unfortunately I was not in a position where I could leave work in the middle of the day to go to the bank.

I started to wonder why didn’t I get a letter in the mail or a message in my banking system telling me my new card was ready.  I felt like I was in a bit of a pickle last week when I faced the prospect of being without cash in hand for a few more days. The Mr. was puzzled as well, wondering why my card didn’t come in the mail.

I did get a call from a banking representative later in the day who explained that conditions of my card contract indicated that I had to pick up my new card in person from my home branch. Most people get a new bank card via registered mail or straight to their homes, so I changed the contract terms to make my life simpler. I mean who goes to a bank anymore to take care of card matters (unless you change banks or need to discuss loan or insurance issues)? I asked if they could send the card to me. January 6 was a national holiday, so there was one extra day of waiting.

When I did get the card, it was not my own. The bank had sent me someone else’s card! Needless to say I was not impressed and made a phone call to the bank demanding an explanation. The representative said he would look into it and get back to me. He didn’t. By this time I had been without a bank card for nearly a week and a half. I tried to explain that it was getting a bit inconvenient to be without a bank card.

Because I was now in possession of someone else’s card, I had to go to the bank and give it back. In my bad Finnish I explained what had happened and the representative I spoke with was incredibly helpful. She was mystified on how the ball was dropped on this one. She couldn’t guarantee that my card would get to me the next day, even though assurances came from the branch in question that I would I have my card the next day. “I’ll believe it when I see it,” I said…

So, more than a week and a half in, I finally got my card – but no apology from the bank for my inconvenience (even though the representative I saw in person thought it was justified). Inconvenience, indeed… Slightly annoying, fortunately not threatening in any way. UPDATE (January 15): I got an apology letter from the bank manager and movie tickets for the whole family. I thought that was fair.

Of course, I bear responsibility for this by not contacting my bank sooner to inquire the status of my new card, but the point of my post is that the normally efficient banking services I have come to expect from my bank kinda failed this time around. There was no message from them telling that my new card was ready, so there was no way to know I actually had a new card ready and waiting for me. (The envelope the card came indicated that it had been sitting in my (former) home branch for two months!) And then they sent me the wrong card, forcing a wait of several more days. Compare that to the issuing of new banking codes for internet banking services: When you’re down to your last 20 security numbers, the bank automatically sends a new series in the mail. So why doesn’t the bank automatically send a message to customers whose contracts stipulate they will pick up their new bank card in person?

The Mr. came to the rescue and gave me some cash, and I do have another card, but it is not accepted everywhere. On top of that, the billing maintenance fee is EUR 5 per month when the card is used. I asked if the bank could recoup that cost on my behalf because had this card issue been sorted earlier, I would never have had to use the other card in the first place. I thought that was fair compensation and the representative who helped me agreed. (Status: yet to be sorted)

Lesson learned: observe the conditions of your bank/credit card contract and how you acquire it (pick it up in person or have it sent home) and make sure your “home” branch is a convenient location and not in another city.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. Sonia permalink
    January 13, 2014 10:13 pm

    I have experienced similar with a. Itella (many many times, because grocery staff is not trained for it) b. KELA. Preferably, the staff should think while doing their job. But they rely on half-ready letters coming out by pressing a button.

  2. anonymous permalink
    January 14, 2014 2:08 pm

    Which bank dropped the ball?

    • January 15, 2014 9:36 am

      OP, a bit of a surprise….

      • anonymous permalink
        January 15, 2014 1:29 pm

        I can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic or not, but considering I mostly remember other banks screwing up, I guess it had to happen to OP eventually.

        Although… I don’t remember hearing Ålandsbanken messing up. Then again, I don’t follow news in Swedish.

      • January 15, 2014 1:57 pm

        Oh, no sarcasm intended. I have been quite satisfied with their service and how the banking interface works.

  3. January 16, 2014 3:37 am

    Movie tickets! Nice 😛

  4. January 16, 2014 8:40 pm

    Consider getting a free Visa Debit (+ Credit if you wish) from S-Bank as a backup option.

    • January 17, 2014 7:33 am

      Hmmm, thanks for the tip, I actually have one of these. I should find out more about using it.

      • Sonia permalink
        January 17, 2014 9:51 am

        Is that being “free” “paid” with trading your consumer behaviour data like they do with the loyal (glass) customer card? It’s surprisingly easy and people apparently don’t mind.

    • January 18, 2014 9:16 pm

      Sonia one motivation for them to provide the cards for free is that their stores save in banking fees when the money just moves within the group. I do not know to what extent they are allowed to use consumer behavior data. Banking secrecy is much better than for loyalty cards.

      • anonymous permalink
        January 19, 2014 3:00 pm

        Of course, technically S Group cards aren’t loyalty cards. You’re actually buying a co-op share when you get one. I think that should somewhat limit their willingness to breach privacy – you get to vote them out if they overstep the bounds.

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