Friday, July 24, 2009

Disgruntled Nelson artist's protest at Westpac

A long time Westpac Bank customer, artist Roger Griffiths, was disgusted when it declined an $80,000 mortage application he made on a commercial property in Nelson, even though he had been a customer for 25 years and had paid off 3 other mortgages with them, always on time, and most significantly, had $190,000 on deposit with them. He then told them he was withdrawing his deposit and to make a point, told them he wanted it in $20 notes. They also declined this request and told him to drive around the region to collect it from three branches. However, the presence of a TVNZ news crew apparantly prompted Westpac to rethink this last refusal as the clip showed him with the cash, which he was taking to deposit down the street at the Nelson Building Society.

Co-incidentally a current series of TV advertisements from the same bank feature a dimwitted Westpac branch manager who needs to be taught by his school-age son about issues such as pollution, energy saving and community service. One hopes that dimwitted Westpac branch managers generally will get taught about such things.

But would such a d├ębacle have happened at other banks? Aspiring bank managers get taught in banking school that all self-employed people are gamblers and bad credit risks and thus banks are usually uncooperative about loans of any kind to them. But surely in this case it ranks as excessive and silly adherance to the policy manual. An appeal to high up in the bank with details of what he would do if they refused could have well have worked. Middle managers in bureaucracies are rarely noted for insight and imagination, but top executives are well aware of the damage this kind of publicity has. A lesson for us all. Video of the TVNZ Breakfast interview.

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