The merger

I’m a St George Bank customer.

Given the proposed merger, it seems that soon I’ll be a Westpac customer, despite what Westpac management are saying.

During yesterday’s briefing, Ms Kelly was adamant the branch network would be maintained, saying even when a St George branch and a Westpac branch were side by side in the same street, they stay open.

C’mon, get real. It would be irresponsible of any bank’s management to do something like that. And remember what happened to the Bank of Melbourne? Yup, gobbled up by Westpac.

If management is at all competent, inefficient operation on that scale just doesn’t last in a commercial environment.

Amusingly, I went into the St George Collins St branch a month or two back to deposit a cheque. At the time they’d installed a ticket system for getting service with a teller. And had a bloke out the front showing people how to use the ticket machine. (Take a ticket for the desired transaction, wait for your number to be called up.)

The guy was so enthusiastic that he pulled a ticket out of the machine for me as I walked in the door.

But I was depositing a cheque, so I didn’t need a ticket — I’d use the fast deposit envelope and box.

I went off to fill in my envelope, and he was left standing with the extraneous ticket.

Next time I went in there, he was gone.

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 “The merger”

Maybe ‘his number came up’? :-)

I’m with StG too and liked not being a member of the larger banks. I’m a bit worried about what this merger means for the friendly relationships I built with staff over the years and whether I get sucked (deeper) into anonimity as a customer with a large bank.

Bendigo seems to be the place to go for ‘old fashioned’ ideas about local branches and personal service. They are pretty ‘green’ thinking too.

I moved to the Bendigo when the ANZ got that ticketing system installed. I don’t like being a number and the staff at the Bendigo are really nice. I prefer my branch at Murrumbeena, but they’re okay everywhere I’ve been.

Funny if not so sad, but I heard of one St George customer who will fall into the hands of Westpac once again. He keeps changing to small bands or a credit union, but then Westpac take over. This will be the fourth time.

Is it St George that doesn’t have certain fees on accounts like the bigger banks?
That will soon be a thing of the past, along with the branches a la Bank of Melb !

Suzie, I don’t mind the principle of the ticket system, if it means I don’t have to stand in a queue. Not that it was normally a problem at St George anyway… because they don’t have any customers!.

Jayne, I just use St George because my mortgage broker got me onto them. I’ve found them pretty good… not many branches/ATMs though, which I suppose will change now.

I don’t think the fees they charge are radically different.

I’m a St George customer. It markets itself as a friendly bank, but it’s not different to any of the big banks. It has the same fees, makes huge profits, and the last I looked it had one of the highest home loan interest rates. If it wanted to be nice to its customers, it could remove the fees. Banks exist to make as much money as they can.

I just object to becoming a number. It’s happening in so many ways and I don’t want to have my life reduced to being a number. I choose small shops and small businesses in most of my dealings as they give me more personal service.

My savings account is with HSBC because HSBC operates like a bank, charging no fees other than for cheques. The other banks seem to think they are entitled to a fee for keeping my money, and they’re wrong so I don’t use them.

I have been a Westpac customer for a short time now and so far I am very pleased with their service. I opened the account online from the USA and had to show ID here to activate it. The bank rep in the CBD Collins St. branch spent over an hour with me to be sure everything was right with my new account and explained everything I needed to know. I was surprised at the level of good personal service given to me.

I would expect stellar customer service if I was paying a monthly fee for it. If I walked into a branch and had to wait more than one minute in a queue, I would close my account.

My primary income is a pension, so I look for a bank that will give the best deal for someone on a low, fixed income. After a few nasty experiences (Adelaide Bank, ANZ Bank and Westpac) I settled on Bank SA (St George in disguise) and have been very happy with them. Mind you, their main selling point for me was their fee-free, incredibly user-friendly internet banking, something Westpac didn’t seem to understand at all!!! I rarely need to go into a branch, even to deposit the odd cheque, and there seems to be an adequate supply of ATM’s.

Unfortunately, I fear, the internet banking will all change from the good StG system to the impossibly evil WBC system and I’ll be forced to look for another bank. Bugger!

The worst part is the time you have to waste researching all the banks and making sure you know what questions to ask. And it’s horrible when you find out that you didn’t ask *all* the right questions because you didn’t know what you didn’t know.

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