Consumerism Ranting

Annoying bankers

I didn’t buy a house on Saturday. Despite assistance, I was outmanoevred. It does strike me that the auction process is not dissimilar to professional poker.

Anyway in preparation for the auction, I needed to be ready to pay a 10% deposit of (argh) tens of thousands of dollars by cheque. So last week I moved a heap of money from my St George DragonDirect account (which is fee-free and has pays pretty good interest) into my Commonwealth Bank account (which I use for every day stuff, and has a chequebook attached).

St George will let you do this in hits of up to $100,000 per day. All good.

Commonwealth, however… They limit you to $5,000 per day by electronic banking. And though their Netbank teases you by implying you can get that limit raised, when I rang up to get it done, they told me you can’t. $5K is it ($10K from business accounts). Their alternative involves going into the branch and either buying a bank cheque (which means then going into a St George bank branch to get the money in… like I have time for that), or doing a slow-but-cheap electronic transfer which will cost about $4 and take a WEEK. Or paying a $28 fee to transfer the money electronically instantly.

Apart from not really having the time, I’m not going to give them the satisfaction of that. I’ll trickle it back to St George, $5K a day. And it’s time to find out if St George can do chequebooks. ‘Cos this is ridiculous. WTF did they build electronic banking for anyway if they force you to go into the branch for stuff like this?

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

11 replies on “Annoying bankers”

I was in a similar position when I bought a house. So what I did was not transfer the money until I needed to write the cheque so strictly speaking the instant that I wrote the cheque, there was very little money in that account, but seeing as it was the weekend and they couldn’t cash the money until the Monday, I then did the transfer so it was there when they drew on it on the Monday. I’m not sure if that’s dodgy or not but it seemed to work for me.
I guess it doesn’t help you in you present situation however!
Banks, can’t live with ’em, can’t shoot ’em.

Ah. The good old Commonwealth Bank. If I never have to deal with them again, it will be too soon. I ran up against the same thing when buying my house, and found myself leaning threateningly over the counter at various branches, as veins popped from my temples.
Can’t live with ‘em, can’t shoot ‘em.
But you can dream.

How do you get outmanoevered at an Auction? Did someone else have a group of biders bidding so fast that you couldn’t keep track of things?

Also can you transfer between banks using internet banking (sounds like you can)? Whenever I tried to do this over the counter (at the commonwealth) I was told it can’t be done, I would need to make a withdrawal here and take it to the other bank.

I think most agents would be comfortable with cashing a cheque on a Tuesday instead of first thing Monday. So just leave the money in the good account until the auction is over, then transfer it that night. It will move on Monday and be ready Tuesday.

Deposit bonds are another way that people bidding at auctions can come up with the deposit at short notice.

You then pay the rest of the cash at settlement IIRC.

They can be handy for people who don’t have all the deposit yet but have been exploited by spruikers selling city apartments.

But they have a cost (several hundred dollars) and if you already have the full deposit earning a fairly low interest then you are unlikely to be better off.

(if only it can be as civilised as WA – very few auctions there and agents typically only take $500 – $1000 deposit once the contract is signed, with the balance payable on settlement)

Martin, it wasn’t so much being outmanoevered as reaching the point where the other party were willing to pay more than I was for the house. In my opinion it wasn’t worth that much.

The $5k limit is a measure to reduce possible fraud by limiting how fast an account can be emptied electronically. Doesn’t make a lot of sense to limit the amount comming into an account though.
And why can’t electronic transfers operate 7 days per week ?., i mean, the funds are delivered electronically, not via post or over the counter.

This is pure extortion. “We have your money. We could give it back to you right now, but we’re not going to. What’s that you say? You need it in a hurry. Well, for a fee, we can give it all back to you right now. If you really want it, you’ll pay the fee.”

Why the hell is this even legal?

I really sympathise with you – I had a similar problem in the last week or so when buying a house and the CBA told us their trick of only allowing $5K at a time to transfer, so that we could: A) send it to the account with the chequebook and B) send it to the other account (ING Direct) with good interest until settlement. We bit the bullet when it came to transferring to the account with the chequebook and just paid for the bank cheques at a CBA branch.

We weren’t going to let them (CBA) win twice though so we arranged a transfer from ING to CBA for the Large Amount so that this could earn descent interest until settlement. Apparently the transfer limited to $5K isn’t an issue when another financial institution is asking for the money (on our behalf, but nonetheless), may be something to bear in mind for the future, get the other bank to request the money so that the amopunt is incoming rather than outgoing – don’t know whether St George and others would play party to it…

Heard a similiar story from a work mate. He was doing some rennovation, so he transferred $17K into his credit account (so it would be in credit, he didn’t have a debit limit that high), as he was about to go buy a heap of stuff and thought it would be more convenient to charge everything to credit rather than mucking around with cash and cheques (and extra fees).

Imagine his surprise when he went to pay for his new whitegoods when his card was refused. One heated phone call with the bank later, he found that they had frozen his credit account for having _too much money_ in it. Banks, what can you do.

In a similar vein, I celebrated a year-long credit debt to CBA by getting a positive balance. I soon received a very polite letter from them asking me not to put any more money in (with the unwritten ‘or else’?).

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