An open letter to Banks of Australia. “Please Explain”

May 31, 2012 · 30 comments

Dear Mr Bank

Firstly I should explain that I’m one of those people who still gets a little bit freaked out when I go through the checkout at the shops and my purchase is automatically charged to my card as soon as I zip it through the atm.  What no need for my PIN or signature?  I know it’s only $30 but hey, like you guys keep telling me, it’s my money Ralph.  And I want to be fully in control of it and know it’s secure.

So can you imagine my horror when today I opened a letter from you Mr Bank which politely tells me that you’re updating my credit card to an embedded chip, which means I’ll now be able to make point of sale purchases of up to $100 without having to sign or enter my PIN.  Hello!  Really HELLO!!   And this after spending an entire paragraph telling me how much more secure my card will be with the new chip based technology.    What type of security lets anyone pick up my card and spend $100 without any type of security check?  Not Happy Jan!

I was still shaking my head in disbelief as I called you up Mr Bank to check that this is really what’s going to happen.  The youngish sounding woman who answered your phone politely confirmed what the letter said. I expressed my distinct displeasure about this unexpected turn of events and in response she told me two things.  Firstly, it’s not the banks decision.  It’s actually the retailers who are putting this in place and the banks have no control over it happening.  (Really – you have no say in the matter?)  And secondly, that if someone steals my card, which yes may well happen, you’ll kindly help me by assisting me to  lodge a claim to get my money returned.  (Well thanks, that doesn’t sound stressful at all!)

Now Mr Bank, I just don’t get the logic being applied here.  In the not to distant future we’ll all be walking around with a card in our handbags that anyone can use to make purchases of up to $100 without any form of security check.  Now if that’s not an open invitation to every thug in town to help themselves to my purse I’m not sure what is?  Why bother breaking and entering for DVD players and laptop computers when there is an open cheque in most of the handbags in town!   Help me out here Mr Bank – am I missing some vital pieces of logic that makes this okay?

My immediate thought after getting off the phone was goodbye credit card.  At the very least I could already see myself taking it out of my purse and leaving safely at home.   I might even  have to make a sign up for my handbag like they have on our local kinder door,  “No cash/credit cards kept on these premisses/handbag!”    Mr Bank I wonder if you and your  friend Mr Retail have really thought this through.  This could seriously limit people’s potential for impulse buying and may even drive people further away from in-store shopping.   Perhaps the future of retail therapy really is online.  After all if the embedded chip makes your information that much more secure, but taking your credit card outside the house is becoming more dangerous, online shopping is looking better all the time.

Mr Bank today you have left me  just a little nonplussed. Despite all of your beautifully crafted emotionally uplifting TV commercials you really don’t seem to have much of a clue about the regular life of regular people – either that or  you simply don’t really care.   On behalf  of the parents of Australia I’d like to issue a big PLEASE EXPLAIN and if it’s not too much trouble I’d also like to keep my PIN and signature on my credit card!



{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tracey June 2, 2012 at 4:17 pm

I’m hearing you!

The first time my purchase was just ‘automatically approved’ without me having to sign for it, I was stunned! I asked them how they could know it was me using my credit card, without checking my signature, or even checking my licence. Their answer was, ‘that’s just the way it is now for small purchases’.
Not happy!


2 Kellie M. Mercie June 2, 2012 at 5:12 am

You have a point! It is so interesting idea. ill learn so much .Thanks for this!
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3 Kirsty June 1, 2012 at 8:13 pm

I’m with you Caz – I still insist on signing my credit card as I think it is the best way to keep it secure plus I have no idea what my PIN is!!! I hope I don;t get offered something similar – my bank would be hearing from me too.
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4 Grace June 1, 2012 at 7:46 pm

It’s amazing how the banks just keep doing more to be seen as profit hungry thieves who don’t give a damn about customers.
Then the retailers are just as bad. And they still have the audacity to complain that everyone’s moving onto online shopping while it’s they’re own fault of not being able to look after their customers either!
Good idea to keep the credit card at home, Caz.
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5 mlwr June 1, 2012 at 7:36 pm

That is prtetty scary, I too am concerned over the $30 deal, its not hard to put a PIN number in, or sign!


6 Kate June 1, 2012 at 7:30 pm

Yep, I got told by the very-young-thing at a big retailer the other day “oh, you don’t need your PIN it’s under $35…” and he said it as though it was great thing for me because I wouldn’t be inconvenienced by having to type it in. I’m into saving time but it’s not worth it for me for just 5 seconds when the potential cost is enormous if someone gets a hold of my card…
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7 Penny June 1, 2012 at 6:54 pm

Yep, I’m moving to online shopping. Having a credit card with no security at all isn’t my kind of banking!
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8 Mum of Adult Kids June 1, 2012 at 9:21 am

I’m with you Caz, I hate the thought of ‘tap and go’. Sadly, it is testimony to the crazy fast-paced world we live in where everyone seems to ‘want it now’… or yesterday! The real benefit here is to the retailer who significantly reduces the processing time, therefore reducing queing time and ultimately staffing. Which leads to less jobs, especially when factor in self-checkout. Brilliant plan. Not.
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9 Caz June 1, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Oh thinking along those line just makes me hate it more!!! Grrrrrr. I tweeted my post to mine and the other big 4 banks.. Mine (Bank of Melbourne) and NAB actually replied – which was nice. But seriously I hate this idea.


10 Marita June 1, 2012 at 7:38 am

We only have a debit Credit Card – it functions like a Mastercard, but you can only use it when there is money in the account.

I was stunned a couple of nights ago to find that Safeway EFTPOS terminals will not accept them unless you know the cards PIN number and you have to select ‘savings’ – the credit option is not even offered.

Everywhere else you select ‘credit’ and sign like a regular credit card.

But Safeway have been very tricky (or clever depending on your POV) – by forcing the customer to select ‘savings’ and use their PIN the fee for the card us is passed onto the customer…. not Safeway.

Banks and big business, screwing the customers over every which way they can.
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11 Caz June 1, 2012 at 12:01 pm

Yes, Big W is the same. Again frustrating!!! Banks makes such huge profits – why do they have to screw us again and again?? More Please Explain!!!!


12 Andie May 31, 2012 at 9:50 pm

I had this happen to me about a year ago. I also called the bank telling them I wanted this feature blocked but was told it was Visa/MasterCard who were making the changes and that was just kind of the way it was. When I asked about what would happen if my card got stolen was told I would need to notify them within 24 hours else I would be liable for payments.
I can’t believe how irresponsible it is of the companies to allow this. Not many if us have a spare $100 lying around that we wouldn’t miss if it was spent by someone else on our behalf. I’m missing the more secure part of the whole thing.. Guess time will tell.
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13 Caz June 1, 2012 at 6:47 am

Where is the logic? Makes no sense to me at all. And what if they up the $30 limit on our debit cards. Then we’ll be dealing with our actual money in the bank – not credit. Still shaking my head at this one! Thanks for dropping my Andie 🙂


14 Vija May 31, 2012 at 9:32 pm

Totally agree.


15 Caz June 1, 2012 at 6:44 am

Thanks Vija 🙂


16 Lee May 31, 2012 at 8:35 pm

Agreed 100%. I think it would be okay for purchases under $20. But $100?! No way!
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17 Caz June 1, 2012 at 6:43 am

I don’t even want it for under $20. I want my money secure and to have a choice about how it’s looked after. Banks just don’t seem to care what we think. The more I think about it the more frustrated I am. Might have to go check out your Carrot, Date and Chia loaf to take my mind off it 🙂


18 Mums the word May 31, 2012 at 7:13 pm

Makes you want to stash our money in your mattress granny style!! So ridiculous! The 30.00 thing pees me off I never asked for that-I want my pin to be needed!!


19 Caz June 1, 2012 at 6:41 am

Me too!! Why can’t we make our won choices about these things?? Very frustrating. I wonder if there are any banks who aren’t bringing it in? I really like to complain and tell them how much I hate this – but how do you do that???


20 Rhia June 1, 2012 at 12:40 pm

try the banking ombudsman
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21 Claire May 31, 2012 at 3:30 pm

I used to work in retail and sometimes people instead of signing would write ‘check id’ on the back of their cards, and produce their drivers licence. Thanks for sharing.


22 Caz June 1, 2012 at 6:39 am

If you must leave spam comments please be creative and make them interesting – don’t just copy other peoples comments. Very boring and poor spam. A fail for you my friend.


23 Crystal May 31, 2012 at 1:22 pm

A letter of credit is a method of securing payment to a vendor. When a seller asks a buyer to obtain a letter of credit, it means the seller would like to ensure payment for a product he sells to that customer.


24 Caz June 1, 2012 at 6:37 am

Thanks Crystal 🙂


25 Emma May 31, 2012 at 10:47 am

I prefer the pin over a signature. I used to work in retail and sometimes people instead of signing would write ‘check id’ on the back of their cards, and produce their drivers licence. It does seem like a step backwards, with the old style ‘click clack’ machines we sometimes used, we would not check purchases under $100.


26 Caz June 1, 2012 at 6:37 am

Interesting point Emma. I seriously think I’ll just be leaving mine Visa at home in future. And then maybe I’ll realised I don’t really need it and cancel it!! Thanks for sharing.


27 Tat May 31, 2012 at 10:35 am

I feel the same way, Caz, even signature is not really safe enough for me. A bit of practice and anyone can come up with a signature that is close enough to mine. Especially since most of the sales people at the shop don’t even look at it properly. You go to some European countries and you are asked for PIN every single time. And that’s the way it should be as far as I’m concerned.
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28 Caz June 1, 2012 at 6:33 am

So true Tat. Hadn’t really thought of that. Really don’t get the logic behind this move. Must save someone money somewhere!!


29 Gillian Harridge May 31, 2012 at 10:31 am

Caz – I 100% agree with you.
I to freak out thinking that my card could easily be used if I lost it.
Which occurs more often than not.
Our money – yeah right!


30 Caz June 1, 2012 at 6:32 am

So glad I’m not alone on this one. Still can’t believe it!!


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