Frustrations with a Local South African Bank

I have held a Private Banking account with a large South African bank for the past 24 years. Although this is an expensive account to have, I am provided with a Private Banker – which is one of the main benefits of private banking. However, after a long time of holding the account, I have come to the conclusion that for me, this is no longer good value for money.


My main concern is the overall lack of communication with my Private Banker. Whenever I try to phone her, I am met with a voicemail message which instructs me to contact her assistant. When trying to phone the assistant, who also doesn’t answer the phone, I am redirected again to the Call Centre. Here, after spending very long periods of time moving between the switchboard and related prompts, I am told to contact my Private Banker.

Highly frustrated with this endless loop of miscommunication, I decided to visit the Blue Route branch of the bank in question and request the cancellation of the account altogether.

Of course, this was also met with challenges, and the first response I received was the typical “I am not authorised to work on Private Bank Accounts” story. After getting nasty, they relented. I was instructed to transfer an amount to cover the fees which were due but not yet allocated to my account. I obliged and did as I was told.

After five days, nothing had happened. I had received no further communication from the bank, its representatives or my Personal Banker. With this, I called the 24-hour Call Centre number, which took me through a long identification and verification process, until finally informing me that the office was closed and that I should phone at another time.

I telephoned again, only to receive the instruction to contact my Private Banker as the person on the phone was not authorised to cancel a private banking account. This was the same frustrating runaround as before.

After eventually receiving some communication from my Private Banker, she began insisting that she’d not received any documentation regarding the cancellation of my account and that she’d only be able to assist me if I began the cancellation process from scratch. This would mean that I would have to pay the same cancellation fees as before, except this time, as there was a delay, the value would be higher. I would have to make another transfer into the account, and if I used cash, I would have to include the cash deposit fee as well.

Once again, I returned to the branch to express my anger with the matter. These dealings turned into a heated discussion, which ultimately concerned the fact that R4 was due for extra fees because the branch had delayed the cancellation process. If I deposited the R4, there would be cash deposit fees that would also have to be paid.

I posted my experience on my personal FaceBook page and I was surprised how many other people had experienced this exact complaint. Have you experienced a similar story?

What can we learn from the process? 

  1. The banking service provider has not tested their processes carefully enough
  2. They are losing clients
  3. Clients want a helpful experience, and by not empowering staff members to keep clients happy, you will keep losing them.

Come on Standard Bank, this is not how to gain friends.

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