Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Your money is NOT at all important to us.

[I'm not a great fan of the genre, but I hope this conveys my rather grumpy mood]

Subtitle: Spending my own Money

I spent over 3 expensive hours yesterday, not making the Sports order to Wiggle.co.uk as planned, but in a sequence of increasingly futile attempts to contact various Bank and Credit Card providers.

Banks used to be a place where hard working people deposited their money, got a reasonable rate of return, and occasionally called in for personal service and big loans like a house mortgage.

When money was relatively scarse the banks used to try just a little.  But today, with money printing gone mad, and banks knowing they are 'too big to fail',   things took a turn for the worse.

Back to my innocent transaction ... 

In the Last Few Hours

- Retailer: Sorry we can't make the transaction, best speak to your bank.  [NB: Online chat to retailer did not work, and you can't actually speak to them, just raise a ticket, and then participate in email ping pong]
- Bank says: sorry, the retailer declined, best speak to the retailer
- Sorry (Swiss Bank), you can't transfer that out of your own bank account without penalty.  You need to wait 6 months

- Sorry the Access code timed out, then the phone number invalid, then your bank card invalid.  Finally after +30 minutes (of holding the line on an International high rate call) code received.   Oh, but note, we'll charge you for the Interbank transfer too, and it's going to take us 2 days!

- Sorry the transactions were declined, are you a criminal?

- Retailer advice #2: Repeat transaction:  I tried 2 cards, with 3 different currencies, in 3 browsers, twice each with at least 2 minutes between attempt for consistency.  That is over 30 attempts.  All failed.  I reported it all, they said: could not help.   I asked could make transaction manually or some other way -> no response.

Aside: American Retail Banking
A quick summary for the European reader
+ Low to zero bank charges
- Outdated Website/ portal interfaces
- Very low security on Web based banking, example little to no secondary authentication
- Frequent hire of well meaning but powerless and simple Sales representatives, with narrow silo knowledge, promoting multiple transfers from one enormous call centre to another  (economy of scale yes but also promoting customer dis-satisfaction)
- Large automated telephone answering services which push you towards automated not a customer services person  (to be fair this applies to banks worldwide)
- Poor to zero knowledge of US to other country banking rules, laws
- Outdated and convoluted Bank to Bank transfer systems, charging you, and taking days
- Card Chip and Pin only just entering the US marketplace

Zero Interest
With the move to Money printing and zero Interest rates, Banks really don't have to and [all too often] don't care about your deposits.  Maybe if you are a debtor they care more, but to a careful saver.  What do they offer?  Typically:

- Zero Interest rates
- One [Swiss] banker recently told me, you should be grateful, negative rates are coming.
- Opportunity for them to charge you a banking fee.  Even for accounts with substantial credit balances
- They even charge you for Credit Cards  (Marcus' Swiss Credit card yearly fee recently rose to 960 CHF, that is over 900 USD per year, over 600 GBP per year:  I have cancelled it)


- Minimise number of bank accounts

- No more than 2 per Country, period

- Per Bank, if there is no interest, just keep the current / checking account. I mean in what way is the Zero interest savings account saving?

- If there are high bank charges -> Close account

- If the Interest rate goes negative -> Close account

Overall, if you are not interested in keeping my hard earned, fully taxed, money,  then I will gladly take it elsewhere or spend it.  Grump off.

And Finally

Whilst I am still quite angry with the combined incompetence and weasel like regulations that banks have shown me today,  ironically had the initial transaction gone thru I'd not have started to take stock of these rogues.  I still find time to smile.

Alanis Morissette: Ironic #2