Thursday, March 29, 2012

Banks make me cry

I have not had good experiences with banks in the last couple of years - and yesterday had me in tears (which is unusual for me in public!)
Being a minister has some perks - the church provides a house (manse) and pays the lights, water and telephone. But in order to change our postal address at the bank we need to supply proof of residence - such as an electricity account. Or perhaps an Edgars account. We don't have any shop accounts and all the normal utility accounts are in the name of the church. Our circuit finance people reckoned that a letter from the superintendent on a letterhead should do the trick.
So yesterday my husband and I went to ABSA hoping to sort out the postal addresses (having moved from Pietermaritzburg to Cape Town) and for me to open a bank account to receive my stipend. No such luck. The letter from the superintendent was deemed inadequate. One of us could however swear an affidavit that the other lived with us at the specified address, but this would be valid for only one of us. (Doesn't make sense to me, but . . .) So we made sure all my husband's accounts were in order. Mine - are left with the statements going elsewhere, regardless of our attempt to tell them that we have moved.
The best that the bank could suggest was that the owner of the property accompany me with his ID book to the bank and sign an affidavit. In my case, this is the Presiding Bishop. It's not quite the same as asking me to bring the pope, but it's close.
I was in tears in frustration at the absolute impossibility of it all - and feeling sorry for the poor staff member who was only the messenger of the system.
I'm sure something will work out - my superintendent assured me that his bank would have sorted it all out and perhaps that is the way to go.


Macrina Walker said...

I can sympathise with you as I had the same problem, although for slightly different reasons. I went for more than a year with my bank account registered at a friend's address (where I had opened it when I was in transit after coming back to SA) because it was simply too complicated to change my address. But that also meant that I couldn't open a savings account, although interestingly enough they did let me open a credit card account! When I moved to Robertson I had the same problem, but fortunately the farmer on whose property I am staying was willing to come to the bank with me and sign that I was staying on his farm.

The ironic and frustrating thing is that if one had clothing (or whatever) accounts one could probably get away with that. But that (like the fact that I could get a credit card account but not a savings account) is just encouraging people to get into cycles of debt. Which, I suppose, the banks are all-too-pleased with.

I used to ridicule the bureaucracy of the Dutch who make one register one's address with the municipality to have proof of address, but now I'm thinking it's not such a bad thing.

Steve Hayes said...

And now you have to do the same thing to get a cell phone!

Steve Hayes said...

I wonder how homeless people manage?

Try CapiTec Bank -- they are the only ones where you can actually save with a savings account.

We had a savings account with ABSA and they sent us an account saying we owed them money, because they had been taking off bank charges every month until there was nothing left, and still kept taking them off when there was nothing. CapiTec actually pays you interest.

Jenny Hillebrand said...

Hi Macrina - yes, it makes it hard for people like me to be honest. I wonder if in their eyes I am a money launderer because I don't fit their pattern.
Steve - Capitec might be an idea, they are quite big in Mitchell's Plain.