BANKING: Terribly poor service from First National Bank

“FNB – how can we help you?” That timeless slogan that gets injected into our subconscious via FNB's expensive advertising campaigns time and time again. Well here's how FNB helped me get a new cheque card.

In a nutshell:

Wallet stolen, credit cards cancelled. New cheque card ordered via phone (24/03/2012). Told that card would be delivered to wrong province (KZN). “But I don't live there”, said I. “Sorry, I can't help you”, said FNB. Told it would take 2-3 working days nonetheless. (I recently moved to Cape Town and have been unable to update my address details without physically going into the bank).

First visit to bank (FNB in Cape Town)

Enter bank, wait in queue. Explain my predicament and get issued with a temporary FNB debit card. Pay R60. Told that I need to provide proof of residence and that any recent account with my address on it will do. Suggest that the card at least gets delivered to the right branch so I can pick it up with my proof of residence in 2-3 working days. FNB bank teller agrees and says to expect a call soon.

Second visit to First National

A week passes. No call from FNB. Physically enter bank for the second time – armed with a Telkom account as proof of residence. “Sorry, we can't help you,” says bank teller, “we need an original copy of your docy.” “But I get all my accounts send to me electronically to 'save paper' ”, said I. “And look! That's me in my ID book!” No no they can't trust my word, it needs to be certified.

Head to post office as instructed by the bank and wait in queue. Told that they are unable to certify the copy of my docy; I need to take it to the police station. Head to police station and wait in a glacial queue for over an hour. Leave feeling defeated.

FNB Courier Service

A week passes. I call to inquire as to where my card might be. I am told that the card is now in Johannesburg. “But that is not where I live”, said I. “Sorry, we can't help you, we need authority from your bank to deliver the card,” says FNB Courier Service.

Back to police station. Join the stagnant queue for another hour or so. Docy certified and I write an affidavit as back-up:

“I, Galen Schultz, hereby certify that I live where I say I do and that the above address is my current place of residence. May I please now have my bank card?”

Policeman stamps and signs affidavit without even reading it. I could have written anything, really, but find the following question more strange: why won't the bank believe I live where I say I do but the police station will?

Card ordered without customer authority

Call from FNB card couriers. “Good day, your new FNB bank card is ready for pick up in Johannesburg!” First card had apparently been cancelled and a new one ordered. “But that is not where I live”, said I. “Please send it to Cape Town”. “Sorry, there is nothing we can do", says courier, "ask FNB.”

Third visit to FNB

Back to FNB. Wait in queue. I proudly present my proof that I am not a liar and kindly ask for my bank card. FNB teller attempts to contact couriers with no luck, cancels that order, and orders a new cheque card on my behalf for the third time. I pay a R100 to have it delivered directly to my proven address. “It'll take 2-3 working days, so you will have it by the end of the week at the latest”, reassures Shenaaz the FNB teller. “Give me a call if you don't hear from our couriers.”

Get a call from the FNB couriers the following week. Told that my new bank card is in Durban...

Week 6 and still waiting...

The week expires as does my temporary, paid-for debit card. Have been unable to use debit card to buy electricity, tickets, or pay for anything online, but why does this FNB debit card have to expire anyway? I have paid for it and would like to keep it as a back-up please, FNB.

Can't get hold of Shinaaz. I called 2 hours ago and got told that she would phone me back. Tomorrow I will be officially card-less. It has been 37 days to date...

Update 30/04/2012:

Walked back to FNB in the rain and confronted Shenaaz directly for nearly an hour. I'm told that I will now be receiving two cheque cards - one today and one on Wednesday. Waited in line to lay a formal complaint but needed to head home to wait for the couriers to drop off my card.

Update @ 16h13: I have just received my bank card (1 of 2)

Update 2 @ 16h33: Shenaaz gave me a call to ensure that I had received my card. How sweet.

Update 3 @ 17h00: Have reported the bad service to Hello Peter

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BIOMETRICS: Finger scanning could replace keys, bank cards & passwords

Finger scanning technologies have been a focal point of futuristic films such as Minority Report for years, yet they are currently finding their ‘footing’ in the real world. In fact they are likely to become an integral part of people’s everyday lives just as keys, bank cards and passwords are today.

A recent example of a finger-scanning technology is a cash machine developed by Hitachi in Japan, which uses a biometric security system that allows users to pay by simply having their finger scanned. The system scans and identifies the user’s veins on their finger – serving as a regular credit or ATM card.

Hitachi plans to launch an experiment in September this year to see whether it is commercially viable to introduce the system to banks, shops and other businesses. However, related technology is already being used by Japanese banking giants such as Mitsubishi to identify clients.

Fingerprint Reader

Biometric cash machine

Today such technologies can be found in police stations, high-security buildings and on PC keyboards. The pros and plentiful – such as not having to carry around credit cards, memorize PIN numbers and access codes, and being freed from the anxiety of losing one’s digitized identity as a consumer (it’s not exactly easy to lose one’s fingerprint). However, several cons exist too: instead of being asked for “your money or your life” you might now be faced with having to give up a finger instead!

Movies have already illustrated this worst case scenario (i.e. using a severed hand or finger to get past a scanner security system), yet technological innovations are finding ways to equip machines with heat and pulse detectors to verify whether a finger is in fact alive or not. However, all is not cream and cake; such systems can still be fooled by the more skillful criminal making use of gelatin or print molds of a real finger.

Although the pros seem to outweigh the cons when it comes to unleashing finger-scanning technologies on a mass scale, one can understand the anxieties of the everyday consumer. What it basically boils down to is that if “somebody steals your fingerprints, you’re pretty much out of luck for the rest of your life”.

Related post: The Power of Thumb


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