Expecting a better standard of service

David D’Alton of Muizenberg asked me to help when he got nowhere with Standard Bank.

He handles the financial affairs of his sister-in-law, Ms A Vautier who lives overseas and comes to Cape Town each year for about three months.

“We went into Standard Bank Blue Route branch to renew a fixed deposit on February 20 which was falling due four days later. We were shattered when they could find no trace of this money having been reinvested in 2016 despite the fact that we had the original paperwork stamped by the bank. They assured us that they would find it by due date but so far were unsuccessful,” said Mr D’Alton and as a former Standard Bank manager he tried to contact someone in authority at head office in Johannesburg and in Cape Town.

“This has been a fruitless exercise and I was continually referred to the call centre agents who were unable to help. In desperation I went back to Blue Route on Monday February 27 and demanded to see the senior person who was handling this and was referred to Akhona Sidlayi, the customer service team leader, who told me they were still looking for the money and as soon as she had an answer she would come back to me.

“When I had heard nothing by March 1, I sent an email advising that if I did not have the money by Friday March 3 I would go to the media and take whatever steps I could to get satisfaction. Suffice to say I have heard nothing more since I spoke to Ms Sidlayi,” Mr D’Alton said.

So what happened to the missing money?

Standard Bank took a while to reply – but that’s because my enquiry fell through the cracks.

Their communications division is usually good at responding timeously. But before Standard Bank replied to me Mr D’Alton said he had received a call from his sister-in-law advising him that she had an SMS saying the money had been deposited in to her account.

It looks like they found it but he was going to the bank to check and he would try to find out.

“I would, however, like you to try to get an answer as to what happened. I really am fuming that after nearly a month this has been going on for I have had two feedback calls from the bank. As the bank has both our cellphone numbers the least I expected was some sort of explanation, an apology, and details of how the paid out figure was calculated.

“We were going to reinvest this money and have never given instructions for it to be paid to her savings account. Surely we should have been contacted and given us the option of reinvesting,” Mr D’Alton said.

Ross Linstrom of Standard Bank said the customer requested a reinvestment with the branch in February prior to the investment maturing.

“The branch consultant opened the new investment. The investment did not register on the system even though the branch had the actual document to prove that the serial number was generated.

“After the investigation, the funds were traced. The branch has since disbursed the funds inclusive of the interest that the customer would have earned on Friday March 17. The customer was placed in the position she would have been in, in the first place. We have apologised for the inconvenience and frustration that this error on our part has caused. The client was in the branch on March 17 and the manager also extended an apology,” Mr Linstrom said.

Said Mr D’Alton: “We have never received any apology from the bank except the one I requested from the manager on March 17 which was given verbally. The only advice we ever received was an SMS advising that these funds had been paid into my sister-in-law’s account and that was it so I refute the statement that the bank apologised to me before March 17.

“The handling of this matter was casual to say the least: promised updates and communications were never sent, and in the month it was going on we received two updates stating that they were working on it. When the funds were transferred into the account all that was sent was an SMS. No sorry, no phone call, no email, no advice that the funds had been traced. Frankly, Standard Bank’s disinterested attitude was appalling for a big company who is looking after people’s funds, and was some of the most shocking service I have ever received.

“If Standard Bank wishes to improve its image they need to raise their service levels dramatically and teach their staff how to deal with issues like this and keep people updated all the time.”