Well, I woke up this Good Friday holiday morning thinking about enjoying the long weekend, only to have my entire weekend ruined by the stupidity of a bank.
When I logged in to my National Australia Bank Online Banking to check my accounts (as I do on a daily basis), I had a message waiting from the bank, which is not unusual – they are often notifying us of new features and changes and such. I also noticed that my bank account was showing that there were funds in the account, but zero funds available for withdrawal. Hmm.
I read the message – which turned out to be an automated notification that one of my payments (rent !!) had failed. “Payment rejected. Transactions are not allowed From This account. Please choose another account.”
Okay – so I called the number for technical support that they listed, and fortunately they were answering phones.
The guy on the phone was pleasant, but unhelpful – he could see that there had been a block put on the account, but couldn’t tell me why – he had no more information. He also couldn’t unblock it – it had apparently been done at a “branch” level – which he said was a bit unusual.
I asked if this meant that I would not be able to get money out of an ATM this weekend – he said, that was correct … no withdrawals allowed from that account … and I would need to speak to someone from my branch on Tuesday.
Of course, by this time I was pretty angry. For no obvious reason, someone had blocked access to my account the night before a four day long weekend (I could access it with no problems yesterday !!).
I asked to speak to someone who could help me – the guy on the phone told me there was nobody else … not even a supervisor, nobody else in the bank was working at all on a public holiday. I must admit I got pretty angry and pretty much yelled at him (I have about $100 in my wallet to survive a 4 day long weekend … which is possible, if we don’t actually go out and do any of the things we were planning on doing !!!). I did apologise to him later for raising my voice at him – I know it wasn’t his fault – I was upset at the stupidity of someone else in his company (he said he understood why I was upset).
He gave me a phone number to try tomorrow for Customer Resolutions to see if they could help.
While he was talking I remembered something and asked him if it looked like the reason for the restriction on the account was due to fraud. He had another look and said, actually, yes – it did look like that was the reason – but it was unusual, because only a single account had been blocked – usually they block access at the user level and technical support do that.
The reason I asked was because of another situation that happened earlier in the week.
I had logged in to the NAB internet banking for the company I run, InvestEd to transfer some money to my account as an expense reimbursement – we just use “pay anyone” to do this, rather than wasting time writing cheques and having to bank them.
It had been quite a while since I last did this, and didn’t realise that we now had SMS security enabled on the account – which means when you request a funds transfer from the account, it sends you an SMS message to the phone registered on the account with a code you type in to complete the transaction. Of course, it’s not my phone that was registered, it was my accountant and business partner (Nick) who set up that bank account!
So, I wasn’t able to complete the transfers, I just cancelled them after it asked for the SMS code. But I figured that Nick had probably received several SMS messages (this was 11:30pm Wednesday night!), so I sent him an email to let him know (didn’t want to call that late).
The next day, I got a rather irate phone call from Nick around lunchtime. He had spent most of the morning on the phone to the NAB fraud squad worried that someone was trying to hack into his bank account.
The problem was that the SMS message that had been sent contains no details about the transaction or the account it was requested from. Nick also uses NAB for his personal banking – so assumed they had come from his personal account. When he spoke to the NAB, he didn’t recognise the bank account details they were talking about (it wasn’t his personal account), and they refused to tell him anything about the account or where the funds were going to be transferred to. If they had just told him it was an account held in the name of InvestEd, or that the attempted funds transfer was to an account in the name of Hampel, then he would have worked it out instantly and told them what had happened.
It wasn’t until he got my email later in the day that he worked out what the story was … he called me and growled at me (out of frustration!) for making him think that someone was trying to access his personal account (which was not the case at all). Fair enough.
But what I think has happened is that the NAB still consider that fraud or attempted fraud has occurred – and so blocked my account to ensure that no further transfers can take place. Idiots.
Nick warned me that I should expect a call from the NAB’s fraud division, wanting an explanation – but no call came.
So the whole incident I think may be a result of poor communication (and anal privacy rules at the NAB), and laziness by the NAB … if they had called me, I would have told them straight away what had happened, they could confirm the story with Nick, and the whole mess would have been sorted out in less than 5 minutes.
Instead, they place a block on my account the night before a four day long weekend, without there being any chance of me following up and getting an explanation or a resolution before Tuesday – thus ruining my weekend. Guilty until proven innocent.
Thanks NAB – I am seriously considering closing all 5 bank accounts I have with you and moving my business elsewhere. They’d better apologise.
If nothing comes from this number I was given to call tomorrow, I will find someone to yell at on Tuesday … hopefully in person. Not happy at all.
Customer Resolutions Team aren’t working the long weekend … I’m not going to be able to get any cash until Tuesday at the earliest. Guess where I’m going to be 9:30am Tuesday morning ?
I called NAB Internet Banking Support again this morning and got them to look into the problem. After about 15 minutes on hold – he came back saying the fraud department didn’t really know why the account had been blocked, and gave him permission to unblock the account *sigh*. I explained the full story (as described above) to him and he agreed that this may indeed be what has happened – and he said he would make a note on my account to hopefully prevent further action – in case someone was still investigating and decided to block it again. We’ll see. Apparently, you can have a third party bank account listed in your internet banking (with the permission of all account holders of course), so I’ll get that set up – will prevent this problem in the future.