Friday, October 21, 2005

A simple money order

Once upon a time a person could send a money order anywhere in the world, and it would be cashed at a Post Office in the blink of an eye.
No more. For some reason, money orders are regarded as the scum, or dregs, of banking, and banks don’t like to get their fingers dirty.
My shop received a money order today to pay for a book the customer had ordered. The money order was sent from the Bank of Montreal and designated in US dollars. What could be simpler?
The shop’s bank, Westpac, wouldn’t take it into our account, claiming only Post Offices do money orders. NZ Post, when asked, said, yes, they do NZ money orders, but not overseas ones. Try Cash Converters! What? Yes, according to the person at the Post Office, Cash Converters changes international money orders. Of course, the person at Cash Converters had only been there a week, and knew nothing about it – and when he asked further, it turned out Cash Converters doesn’t do anything with international money orders. Not now.
I’ve lost track of how I got onto Western Union, but they said, No, try ANZ, they’re supposed to do international money orders.
Now the fun started for real. After going through the usual process of having to wait to find out which button to press on the phone, I finally got through to someone who didn’t know anything about it, but would put me through to the International Banking section. Who seemed to be out for a late afternoon tea. The frustrated girl finally got someone called Stuart (his real name, since giving him a pseudonym wouldn’t make any difference) and Stuart, after some debate, said yes, they would deal with it if I had an account with ANZ. The only account I have nowadays (after having given up on ANZ in disgust in the past when they used to treat their customers like dirt) is a credit card. Can I deposit this money order into the credit card? Yes, as long as you fax me a copy of the money order to verify it. That seemed simple enough, and I did. Stuart rang me back after five or ten minutes and said I could go ahead. Was he sure the bank teller would actually do it when I went there? Oh, yes, he’d authorised it.
I went to the ANZ Moray Place branch. As always, there was a long queue and only two tellers. It was getting close to 4.30 pm by this time, so I ran along to the ANZ on the corner of Hanover St. No queue, and half a dozen tellers.
I went up to the young lady at the counter, explained what had happened with Stuart, and – I could tell – she wasn’t believing this. Worse, she now brought up the fact that the money order was made out to the shop, not to me, while the card was in my name, not the shop’s. Stuart hadn’t mentioned this as a problem, but it did occur to me about this time that perhaps that hadn’t been clear.
Of course she had to ring ANZ International banking, and of course, Stuart agreed that it couldn’t be put into my credit card account, when it was made out to the shop. All this fuss, mind you, for the equivalent of NZ$80. While I’m standing there waiting for the girl to talk to Stuart – at length, it seemed – I was looking at the ad for ANZ’s latest big deal: get a home loan with them and they’ll give you an island holiday. (It doesn’t say what you have to do, of course, to qualify for this holiday, but I suspect it’s not given out to all and sundry). I was thinking, here they can afford to give away island holidays, but they can’t afford to transact a piddling money order, because that’s what the girl was now telling me – and so did her superior, when she called her in. Sincere apologies, Stuart must have misunderstood, no way it could be done, have to go back to Westpac, since ANZ doesn’t have ‘a relationship with your shop.’ This from the bank who talks about the ‘better we know you the better we can serve you.’
Right.
Of course, Westpac, like all the banks, was now closed for the day, so I rang them. And got one of those young ladies who knows that ‘it can’t be done’ but has ‘no idea why not.’ Could she put me onto someone who does have an idea. This person had apparently gone for an early tea break, considering the length of time it took to find her.
When she arrived, she turned out not to be the International Banking Person for Westpac, but merely the ‘team leader.’ Team Leaders are thick on the ground these days, but not easy to get to if you want to speak to them. ‘This is what my team leader says….’ ‘My team leader told me….’ Could I speak to the team leader? ‘Just a minute, I’ll ask her…..She says so and so…’
Team Leaders don’t like to speak to the hoi polloi.
Anyway, this Westpac TL did say that the teller at Westpac should have rung up and asked her, or someone in her department, how to deal with this money order. (Remember the money order?)
I suspect that it wouldn’t have made any difference, but we’ll give it a try when the banks are open on Tuesday (it’s Labour Weekend, so they’re closed on Monday, of course) and see how much of the rigmarole I have to go through again then.
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