Home Open Sauce NAB loves its home-loan customers. It just won't let them go

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NAB loves its home-loan customers. It just won't let them go

Digitisation of office functions has sped up life for many people in metropolitan cities and removed many a headache in the process. Given that, it is passing strange that the National Australia Bank, one of the big four in the country, takes an interminable amount of time to allow one to move away from its embrace.

NAB is firmly in the era of the horse and buggy when it comes to letting home-loan customers go. The bank seems to embody the opposite of our prime minister's favourite words: agile and innovative. Stuck in the Stone Age would be a better description.

I have been trying to move a home loan account from NAB to the Commonwealth Bank for a long time; the first date sought by the CBA for completing the formalities was 28 October.

This, mind you, was long after NAB spoke to me when they became aware that I was planning to move my account. I spoke to the bank initially in June to ask if they could lower the interest rate they were charging me.

A measure of NAB's inefficiency or cussedness can be gauged from the fact that I had to make three visits to the bank in person — yes, in this day and age when there are more mobiles than people in Australia — before I got an answer on this score. Truly, NAB has embraced the digital era.

Thereafter, I began supplying the necessary papers to CBA. In September, I visited NAB again to ascertain that there was no movement on interest rates on their part.

The CBA finalised everything in October and told me that it had requested a settlement date of 28 October, This did not work out and so CBA informed me that NAB had agreed to meet them on 4 November. They did caution me, however, that NAB was known for its stalling tactics. I had to leave for the US on 6 November and thus could not learn what, if anything, had transpired.

Turns out I missed nothing. When I returned, I learned that the date for the changeover was now 18 November. My contact at CBA said a date of 11 November had been set after NAB pulled out of the 4 November appointment at the last minute. The 11 November date too did not, apparently, work out for NAB.

Either there are some terribly incompetent people who work for this bank, or else they just couldn't give a flying f***. The bank's attitude seems to depend on the personnel involved; when my wife and I took out the loan, we dealt with a professional banker, a woman who would do any corporation proud. Now, it seems that the barbarians are at the gate.

And so, I waited, only to learn that 18 November also had not worked out. It became the next Friday, 25 November.

That, too, has come and passed. Now I'm told by the CBA that NAB is so occupied — maybe with its preparations for Christmas — that it can only settle on 6 January.

All the while, NAB is making money off me as the interest rate they are charging me is much more than what the CBA has agreed to when the loan moves over. Truly, the slogan of "more give, less take" for NAB must have coined by someone who had tongue firmly in cheek.

The banking ombudsman is of little use in scenarios like this; as I have mentioned elsewhere, these ombudsmen are set up to make us, the masses, think we have someone on our side.

However, at least for the sake of this story, I called the ombudsman and was advised to take my problem to some law centre. As I waited on the line to speak to someone, I suddenly gained insight into the reason why some people, with more persuasive personalities, still have good business in this day and age.

Comment was sought from NAB by noon today and a spokesperson initially asked for my account details in order to resolve the issue.

After supplying this and specifying that a comment was needed, the spokesperson came back much later, with this: "Now that all required information has been provided, NAB is able to work with the customer’s new lender to arrange an appointment for 1 December 2016. NAB apologises for any inconvenience caused."


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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.