Our banks are broken on almost every level
I was contacted recently by a reader who had a story which, I think, reflects the rotten state of the Irish personal banking sector. She has been with National Irish Bank for 20 years, has never had an unauthorised overdraft, defaulted on a loan, run up a massive credit card debt or behaved in any kind of financially reckless fashion. All her wages go directly into this account every month and have done since the early 1990s.
She is, in short, a very good customer.
She has decided to take voluntary redundancy and leave a job she has had for more than 25 years and in two weeks time she will be getting a large lump sum which, again, will be lodged with NIB.
She went into her branch in the west of Ireland last week and asked if she could have a temporary €3,000 overdraft to pay for some education related bills that had fallen due. The branch staff member, who she was on first name terms with, seemed to think it would be no problem as the sum requested was small, she had always kept her account in good standing and had a letter of guarantee from her current employer stating that her redundancy would be deposited in her NIB account within weeks.
Despite being a loyal customer, NIB, in its infinite wisdom and/or absolute paranoia, insisted she jump through all sorts of hoops during the loan application process. She had to bring in utility bills, proof of identity, proof of address – that kind of thing. She did all that was asked of her and when the application process was complete she was told that all decision making powers had been taken away from local branches and her application would have to go for approval to a loan committee in Dublin.
This, remember was for a €3000 very, very short term overdraft for a very long-standing and solid customer.
The loan committee refused the application on the grounds that “it doesn’t do bridging finance”. She will get by and in weeks she will have her lump some and a new job so she is not too put out. It is, however, she says “a slap in the face”. It is also a reflection of how scared our banks our and how incapable this fear has made them. The branch had no flexability and no common sense was applied to the application. I am sure there are thousands of stories like this out there. I would like to hear some…