I've been on a mission this week to open two bank accounts for Cape Connect - one at ABSA, one at FNB. Purely to make life easier for my clients who have accounts there.
Yesterday afternoon, after a morning spent rushing to Cape Town and back, I headed to the banks at the Mall to open an account - simply because they were close enough together to warrant less running around in the available time. I went armed and prepared, all required documentation in hand. But it's the holiday season.....
I tried ABSA first - only to discover their sole not-on-holiday business consultant was at another branch. So I changed course and dashed over to FNB to join the queue for the only two consultants on duty.
Nearly an hour later I was at the desk asking questions and ready to open an account. Unfortunately the consultant had his eye on the clock and the queue behind me. He handed me brochures, gave me vague information without anwering any of my questions properly, and in effect told me to go away and come back another day, as he was too busy to spend the half-hour required to set me up.
By this time the town branch of ABSA had closed so there would be no bank joy that day...
Back home I went onto the FNB site to try apply online. The form is there, but pressing any kind of Submit or Contact buttons throws up insane errors and gets no reaction.
So this morning first thing I headed off to the town branches.
ABSA first. Yes, the business consultant was on duty - but no-one had told me I had to make an appointment. However, he may be able to fit me in, take a seat. Which I did - and listened as the three staff members behind me gossipped for 45 minutes about staff, clients and everything else in full hearing of the people waiting to be attended to. Not exactly professional behaviour.
Finally I got my chance, and to his credit Vincent at the Somerset West Main Road branch does everything he can to make his business client's lives easier. It took quite a while to get through the paperwork, but an hour later I walked out of there with an account number, activated bank card, and a positive balance in my new ABSA business account.
To their non-credit, I also walked out with very little information on how everything works, no holder for my card (went back and asked for one) and no actual paperwork to show I had an account there - no price/fees list, no printed summary of my account details - I had to copy them off the ABSA application document or I wouldn't have known them at all! Also to their non-credit, I had to apply seperately and am paying a large amount of cash each month for the privilege of accessing my account online, nearly 5 times more than the basic bank fee. Surely in this day and age electronic / internet banking should be included as a matter of fact, free of charge? Back at base, using the online banking was "interesting" - a lot more complicated than my usual Standard Bank procedure, less information on-screen, and the SMS confirmation of having logged in repeatedly as I tried to get it all right has started to get irritating. No way to shut it off though.
ABSA done, it was on to the town branch of FNB, as I had a sudden onset of extreme aversion to trying to conduct business with the consultant at the Mall.
Again it was a case of write your details in The Book, take a seat and wait. For the third time in two days I wondered if I should have dragged a book or a laptop along...
Once at the front of the queue nearly an hour later, I had my request down pat. I need this particular account, here are the documents you'll need, please open the account. The consultant first had to go verify my proof of residence, and then came back to say it's a few days older than the required minimum three months, so is unacceptable. This, the very same document ABSA had just opened an account with. Trouble is, this particular proof of residence now arrives electronically, and that was the last time I received a paper version. But no, they wouldn't accept it - and yet again FNB told me to go away.
So I decided to try one more option.
Back at base, I filled out a "please call me" form on their website. Many hours later, still waiting.
Then I phoned the call centre and asked them to please open an account over the phone as all other ways of doing so have failed. They took my email address and phone number, said they'd send through documents for me to fill in and return (the originals of which would be collected by courier from me), and that a customer relations manager would give me a call within 48 hours.
Needless to say, I'm still waiting on the documents, and the phone has not rung.
This is starting to really piss me off. Does FNB not want my business? Are they trying to make it so hard to open an account that we all revert to keeping cash under the mattress?
I know I'm doing this for the good of my clients, but I'm starting to wonder if it's worth any of the effort I'm having to put in.