A semi-victory

The past two months I have been embroiled in a passive-aggressive battle with my bank, FNB, over a little operational mishap. I have complained tirelessly to my friends, but spoken words are easily forgotten, whereas written ones last for as long as I pay my subscription fees.

Basically I had asked my private banker to get the forex team to offer me a better rate on one of my foreign payments. I was told to specifically decline the quote that I got via the online banking portal (which I cleverly screen-shotted), and it confirmed that I had successfully declined the quoted rate and that the workflow would be saved in the “Maintain” area for future use.

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However, the next thing I knew, I had gotten a payment confirmation for a rate that was higher than the quoted rate. Imagine my WTF… I immediately emailed my private banker, who passed it on to the forex team… but after waiting over a month, I still had not received a call. Further emails to my private banker were ignored.

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Eventually, I emailed the generic contact address and got a call from a very unhelpful lady in the forex department. She told me it was simply their process to execute an instruction that was below the threshold for preferential rates… and upon learning that the payment I made was 1 CENT below the threshold, I was rather peeved at the fact that my banker did not inform me of this.

Even so, they still should not have executed the instruction without my approval of the rate. For context, it was a payment to my dad which I could have made at any time, and had they told me they could not give a better rate than 14.5544, I could have waited a few days, weeks or months even and done it myself via online banking.

Eventually, after uttering “The Consumer Ombudsman” several times, they offered to waive my monthly account fee of R360. At which point I said hell no, the money I lost from this exchange rate fiasco was way more than R360! I needed to be put in a position closer to what I would have been in, else the Ombudsman will be getting a complaint from me. (For what it is worth, SA has a pretty good deal when it comes to protecting the consumers.)

Round 2, they offered to waive 2 months’ bank charges and also promised for all future forex payments I would be getting a preferential rate regardless of the amount. And so, the forex saga ends with a semi-victory.

A less experienced me probably would have taken the R360 waiver and called it a day. But it really is nauseating how corporates try to take advantage of consumers and sweep their mistakes under the rug. Urgh. It saddens me that it has to take a mail to ceocomplaints @ fnb.co.za before anybody even contacted me.

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