A Fool and His Money (Part 3)


Love on the rocks.


Parts 1 and 2 have brought us to this stage of my better-bank-deal quest.

Thank you so much for reading and responding!

Today the plot finally crystallises.



As Sheryl the Specialised Case Manager presaged, Bert the Bank Manager and I had ‘fruitful conversations’ (via email).

Alas, the fruit was small, hard and bitter:

  1. No relief on annual or monthly fees.
  2. A total annual interest saving of … wait for it … $126.


I told Barry the Twitter Team Guy.

No response.



Con the Home Loan Officer rang me once more for good measure, but to no effect.



I had an email chat with Sheryl (pleasantries removed to save space):

Hi, Sheryl,

Just thought I’d have a quiet word with you while I deliberate.

Do you feel happy with how this resolution is panning out?


Hi, Paul,

I am only happy if you are.

I can see that Bert is trying his best to assist you but ultimately the decisions will lay with you.

So Paul, are you happy with the way this is panning out?


Having achieved a mere 6.3% of my target saving of $2,000 I feel rather deflated.

I can’t tell whether this is truly the best ABank can do, or whether it’s the best they can do for a ‘little person’ like me.

After all this time and effort and drama, a saving of just $126 per year seems pretty paltry.

It doesn’t really inspire me to forge a 40-year alliance with ABank that showers us both in riches.

I think I may have to wait to see what the Choice initiative comes up with.

If it turns out that you guys really have done the best you can for me, I’ll accept my $126 with grace and apologise humbly for wasting everyone’s time.

If, however, Choice turns up a raft of significantly better deals, I’ll probably feel very let down that you guys couldn’t do likewise for me ahead of time.

Does this description of how I feel make sense to you, Sheryl?


To be honest saving money and discussing lending matters via email is not as effective as a verbal conversation… would you consider a conversation with Bert? This may lead to further options.

I assure you we want to help and we are doing all that we can at this moment. We would love to see you as one of our long term customers so I think it is time for an actual chat. Your thoughts?


As a writer, verbal isn’t my forte.

That’s probably why I’ve failed in all phone and face-to-face discussions to date.

I understand that much business is conducted this way.

I don’t understand why these ‘further options’ can’t be put in print. When I first took my loans, the terms were written in great detail.

Unless, of course, you’re talking about a negotiation – which I find even less desirable.

My readers have been following this story with interest.

As I feel confused and dispirited, I’ll seek their objective advice before getting back to you.

I do realise you’re trying, Sheryl.

I suspect I’m simply unsuited to your systems.



I’m tired, disheartened and torn.

Should I:

a)    Accept my modest fate.

b)    Battle on via email or Twitter.

c)    Pick up the phone.

d)    Send the wife in.

e)    Turn this into a novel and pay my loans with the proceeds.

f)     Change banks.

g)    Try something else (describe).


Unless you (or Choice) come up with something significant,

this could be …


The End


| Founder & Senior Writer – The Feisty Empire

  • I also sent this to Sheryl as an afterthought:

    ‘I guess another reason I hate bank phone calls is that they only seem to cover:

    1. The fact that I’m being recorded for training purposes.

    2. How very lucky I am already.

    3. Why I can’t have anything I’ve asked for.’

  • Change Banks. Seriously, at least look at what the others are offering – take into account any exit fees and entry fees.

    Don’t forget, banks do not care about you – they care about their (obscene and bloated) profits and getting you as a customer to add to those profits. Anything they say is merely dressing these facts up – don’t pay attention, look at the deal you’re getting, is it the best for you?

    You’re already giving your first bank what they care about, so of course they’re not interested in coming to any savings party for you. (Oh lol, you forgot, they’re not in business for you.) Use the little power you have – they’re relying on you being (like most of us) apathetic – you’ll whine a bit, but you won’t get around to changing your bank.

    Hang in there. :) (though getting missus to do it also works for me.)

    • Thank you, Sheila. I’m sorely tempted to do both your suggestions. On the one hand, I’ve had a very positive echo from Bank of Melbourne to our earlier mentions of them.

      On the other, Fonnie has the diplomatic prowess of Nelson Mandela, Bob Geldorf and the Dalai Lama combined. Bert wouldn’t stand a chance! :)

  • Considering Australian banks are currently the most profitable in the world (the big four netting a combined 20 billion in profit for the last financial year) and can afford to spend more than a billion between them on advertising alone (see link below), it’s hard to believe this is “the best they can do”.

    Surely they’d create far more loyalty by simply eliminating (or significantly reducing) bank fees, rather than spending on hollow advertising none of us believe anyway.

    I say if you get a better deal take it.


  • Hi, Anna. You raise an interesting point. We spoke the other day about how great it’d be if the supermarkets stopped running ads and started reducing prices for real.

    I’m reluctant to bash banks simply because they’re ‘rich’. On the three occasions (ex) clients have bagged me because of my high fee, I felt particularly stung.

    On the other hand, spending millions of bucks on ads, which merely shuffle us around between them, seems rather a waste.

    • It’s not a matter of “bank bashing” because they’re making money. The problem is, they’re cutting staff numbers, forcing us to do most of our banking online (or charging us to deal with them face to face), charging us like wounded bulls to access our own money, then wondering why we don’t fall over ourselves to sing their praises.

      It’s about the perceived VALUE for the money we spend – and frankly, most of us just don’t see value when we pay more and more to receive less and less.

      If they invested those profits into better services and reducing charges, I don’t think we’d all be feeling so disillusioned.

      Sadly Sarah’s right, the few who hold the monopoly get to do whatever they like because the plebs like us at the bottom of the food chain really don’t have the power to force them to change (and really, what options are there when they’re all dishing up the same tripe?)

      All we can really do is make sure we get the best deal we can for ourselves.

  • Change banks.

    • Thanks, Ad. I always appreciate your advice. :)

      • That said, I have changed banks and phone service providers routinely, in search of better deals, because providers rarely reward ongoing custom. If I felt that someone was listening, I’d feel good about it. But they aren’t listening, so it’s all rather hollow. No bargaining power for little guys like us. Once I master alchemy, I’ll show them. So far I’ve managed to turn flour and milk into some lead-like scones. So gold is just around the corner.

  • Sally Goldner

    change banks. All other things being equal, try to look beyond the big 4 and 1/2 (the 1/2 being St George/Bank of Melbourne)

  • How lovely to hear from you, Sally! As you work with loot for a living, your words carry great weight. Thank you for stopping by. :)

  • Hi Paul – maybe time for a little left field thinking on this one.

    Currently you are running around doing something that you are not expert at (Negotiating), getting frustrated and not achieving the result you want. It may be useful to ask the following questions:
    Is what I want possible (love from the bank, them treating you as a valued client given your portfolio position with them, and the saving you desire?)
    Is there someone who specialises in doing this? (a mortgage broker, for example?)
    Am I best served emotionally and financially by continuing this crusade?

    It looks as if the bank is trying to be flexible, but its reality and yours are very different. Consider how you could contribute to making a better outcome, and where your ‘rigidities’ are not serving the process.

    My advice: Get a mortgage broker / specialist. Get a few options. Make a choice and get back to doing what you love, and are awesome at. Notice the difference in how it feels to let it go.

    • Hi, Phil. The voice of wisdom yet again! Great observations, as usual. Alas, my reality seems to be different from everyone’s! Knowing me, I’d need a second broker, to speak on my behalf, to my first broker!

      As we ‘speak’, a polite, friendly and very understanding Bank of Melbourne person is furiously crunching numbers on a better deal using data gleaned from just a few short emails.

      Hope springs eternal! :)

  • Hi Paul,

    It’s easy to say change banks but here’s the problem – they’re all the same. Banks, telecomms, and airlines are all industries that seem to delight in abusing their customers. Why? Because we don’t have that many choices, especially in Australia. I’m sure you can go to BBank, have a lovely honeymoon, then wake up to the same ugly relationship you already have.

    While this is a BIG leap, I totally understand the riots in London. It’s this sort of thing – the feeling of powerlessness, of having no choice, of knowing your getting ripped off (let’s include the grocery stores in here while I’m at it) – that drives an overall despondency that no matter what you do it doesn’t matter, especially if you’re a little guy.

    I really loved Sheryl’s question back to you about whether you feel happy with their pitiful little offering. She MUST know better.

    Thanks for this lovely series of posts. You’ve had me hanging on the edge of my seat hoping your experience would be different.

    • You’re SO kind, Sarah! I was terrified of boring everyone to death with this painfully personal and unusually long and articulated tale. If someone as busy as you is still with us, I have high hopes for our other readers. :)

    • I’m with Sarah – I’m really keen to see how this pans out long term. While I had my fingers, toes and eyes crossed that Paul would be the hero that saved the day (*happily ever after, roll credits*), I think Sarah’s right, we don’t have alot of choice as consumers.
      And unfortunately the service model seems to revolve around offering you the world, and then ignoring you and slapping on more fees because the time and effort to change (as displayed by your persistence, Paul :)) is too hard and difficult for the average punter.

      Great market opportunity for someone to come in and do it with a customer focus.

      • I have to agree – they are all as bad as each other and it gets really hard to summon the energy to make any change (so they win again).

        Cudos to people like you Paul who telling them how they fail and force them into using your preferences (i.e. email not phone) – if enough of us did it at once maybe we’d be heard…

        But I have enjoyed the blog series – and had hoped you’d get a happy ending, sigh.

    • Thanks a lot, Tash. That means a great deal to me. :)

  • Keep trying, Ad! Sorry I can’t link my comment to the end of yours. We seem to have run out of hierarchs.

    Emma? :)

    • I think if you reply to your comment above Adam’s comment, it will post your comment under Adam’s comment as a thread.

      Clear as mud?! :)

  • Cor! They don’t pay YOU the mega bucks for nothing, E! Many thanks! 😀

    • Gosh, you and I do differ in our definition of ‘mega bucks’ :)

    • p.s. I ‘m assuming that I’m able to delete your ‘test reply’ now that we’re happy it works?? :)

  • Been following this thread as it is one most of us can relate to.

    I used a mortgage broker over the last 6 years (switched twice) and I think she got me a fantastic deal. Every 2 years I make it a point to check if I have the best I can get.

    My broker has now ‘gone fishing’. so maybe it is time to shop for a broker?

    Really it comes down to answering the simple question “I want to tie a noose around my neck for many years. Which noose is the least uncomfortable? I really don’t want the chaffing from having tried so many of them, so please guide me.” Perhaps, one day in the bye and bye, I can burn the rope (once it is no longer around my neck, thanks) and be rid of mortgages altogether.

    When will the madness end?

    • Great comment, Ferenc! The broker idea is a ripper. It occurred to me after Phil’s comment that I had actually spoken to a loan broker several years ago. Amazingly, it completely slipped my mind until this week.

      I recall being told at the time that I was on a pretty good wicket and that there wasn’t much the broker could do for me at that moment. This was refreshingly honest. The guy could have dragged me all over the garden path. Either he was a man of honour, or he just didn’t want to queer the pitch with my financial advisor, who’d recommended him and in turn been recommended by my accountant.

      Anyway, my immature reaction to Phil’s idea is even sillier in light of this revelation.

      I like your noose analogy a lot. I dream daily of burning ours. When my energy flags, I imagine chipping another rock off that mountainous Excel line graph. Every buck off the principal brings the Glorious Day of Ultimate Freedom forward by two minutes.

      Many thanks indeed for your thoughtful contribution. :)

  • Looks like I’m not the only one doing it tough …


  • Just got an update from from the Choice Big Bank Switch team. They’re up to 40,306 registrations. I wonder if this will come to anything …

  • Almost every day reveals a new interaction between business and social media:


    We ignore these developments at our peril.

  • This group buying thing seems to be taking off:


    Thank you, Ensha, for your thoughtful heads up. :)