Thursday, November 04, 2010

Switch Banks?

Financial experts are blaming customers for the treatment they receive from banks.

With interest rates being raised higher than the official rate rise enforced by the Reserve Bank, the experts point the finger at customer “laziness”. According to them we should be playing musical banks – shifting our money and our debt every time we think our financial institution has done the wrong thing.

Maybe these experts would be more helpful if they visited the real world occasionally. Changing banks isn’t as simple as changing your regular newspaper or supermarket. There are no financial penalties imposed when you switch from Coles to Woolies or vice versa. There are no time issues or forms needing to be completed when buying a Herald instead of a Telegraph.

And what difference is there between banks? Most are pretty much the same and usually play follow the leader whenever there are changes. And are we expected to switch back to our original bank next time there’s another change?

Yes we can all turn to credit unions or building societies or one of the smaller community banks – but often they are very localised institutions with limited accessibility.

No. The problem isn’t caused by customer laziness. It is caused by greed. It is caused by highly profitable institutions pushing for more and more profit while providing less and less services to their customers; and decreasing loyalty to their staff who are often treated as disposable.

Unfortunately it is not only the banks playing this game of excessive greed. The power companies are also getting in on the act. Record profits merely increase the greed leading to a search for new ways of ripping off the customer. But there’s not much we can do when held to ransom by these essential services.

What made all of this possible?
I suspect the privatisation of the Commonwealth Bank started the ball rolling many years ago, and now its probably too late to slow the momentum.

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