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Alan Hawkins

Professional journalist and communication consultant.


East London Accommodation

BANKS ARE NOT THERE WHEN WE NEED THEM

It’s not surprising that one rarely hears conversations about good experiences with our banks. Considering for a moment that the international banks must shoulder much of the responsibility for the current economic malaise, this doesn’t come as a surprise.

A quick visit to the consumer website www.hellopeter.co.za, showed that the number of service complaints against our own banks bears evidence of a high level of customer dissatisfaction. According to the Ernst & Young 2012 banking survey, confidence levels in banks remain extremely low despite their best efforts to retain and attract customers. Even when faced with the administrative hurdles of changing banks, if expectations are not met, we are extremely likely to shop around.

Customers are demanding higher levels of service and lower rates. According to Gary Palmer, CEO of Paragon Lending Solutions, “the increasing costs of bank fees for routine services, uncompetitive lending rates and poor experiences are common reasons why someone would want to leave.”

The Hawkeye team investigated the difficulties involved when changing banks, even when considering the administration required, this is a relatively painless process. The banks themselves are well prepared to guide one through the transition.

Considering that it’s easier to keep a customer than it is to attract a new one, our banks would do well to focus more on looking after their existing customers and less on their advertising puffery in the Sunday papers.  

This week’s tip

The different products and pricing structures offered by each bank make comparisons difficult. Switching banks is an important decision and consumers are urged to research this properly and to tread cautiously.     

It makes a nice change to be able to dedicate this week’s CHERRY AWARD to the Buffalo City Municipality. It’s really good to see some of the side-walks and footpaths being repaired and also the newly planted island gardens, well done.

A reader reported that the price of Star bread at Checkers Nahoon had recently gone up from R7.99 to R9.79, and is now down again, at R8.29. Jan Roberts, sales manager for Star Bread, stated that this was as a result of Checkers coming off a promotion and this coinciding with the first of two price increases, the next being on 1 November. Roberts went on to say that recent increases in the price of both flour and fuel have pushed up their costs by approximately 75c per loaf. This week’s CHILLI AWARD goes to all those retailers who mark up more than 10% on this staple food.


CUSTOMER SERVICE SOUTH AFRICA BANKS

STANDARD BANK; FIRST NATIONAL BANK FNB; NEDBANK; ABSA BANK