Another adventure with an Australian bank


Two of the big Aussie banks in Adelaide by Dodge 76
ANZ and Westpac in Adelaide, by Dodge 76

Just when I think it's okay to do business with an Australian bank, a situation like this arises again that makes me remember why I went with a credit union. Go Australian Central!

This morning I went across the street and down the block to our local Australian and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ Bank) branch with deposit book in hand to pay the rent. I get paid into a Singaporean account which means I could theoretically do a telegraphic transfer direct into my landlords account, but ironically it's much faster and cheaper to just use my Singapore ATM card to take out the rent from the machine outside then walk in and pay the rent manually. Welcome to the 21st century.

After withdrawing said funds I proceeded inside, took a number from the machine and sat down to wait. I was the only person in the bank; quite literally. There wasn't anyone behind any of the teller windows or the consultation desks. After a few minutes of waiting I cleared my throat loudly causing a woman to appear from what I assumed was a break room or something.

Now generally what happens is I hand over the deposit book and the cash, the person behind the counter deposits it, and I'm on way way. You know, what the people there are supposed to do.

Today though after I had handed over the deposit book the teller noticed I was making a rental payment, so she asked me if I had contents insurance. I replied I did not, and I explained that we're just studying here and anything of any real value is in either my bag or my sister's bag when we leave the house. We're being irresponsible she said. She said we needed to start taking our home responsibilities seriously.

I've been told I look younger that 22 years old because I'm fairly pale and don't have any facial hair, but even if this were true and I was only 18 I didn't appreciate being talked to in such a condescending tone. She acted as though we had just left high school and needed to be talked to like kids.

This verbal jousting though was only just beginning. When I reiterated why I wasn't interested in contents insurance because it would cost more than the goods it's supposed to protect, she proceeded to open a new window on her computer terminal and started asking for my contact details, where I lived, whether I was a student, what my income was, whether I had an existing account with ANZ… and so on. I refused to disclose the information because I didn't want any more junk text messages or advertisement phone calls than I already get, but she kept pressing me for information.

Finally I just instructed her to please make the deposit I asked her to, and to please stop trying to sell me a product I didn't want or ask for. At this stage she took on a defensive tone, as if she was just trying to help us and I was being ungrateful! What should have been a 20 second transaction took over 5 minutes (not including the waiting beforehand).

What I didn't tell her was that I was interested in contents insurance at one point but that I did the number crunching several months earlier and determined even with a minimal excess it just wasn't worth it. I get the feeling telling her this wouldn't have made much difference.

I may change my mind in the future though; perhaps at some point I will look into getting contents insurance once we have more than just a microwave, a table and a few chairs in this house. What I will keep in mind for future reference though is that I will not be looking into any insurance products from ANZ. What an irritating waste of time.

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Ruben Schade is a technical writer and infrastructure architect in Sydney, Australia who refers to himself in the third person. Hi!

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