All Louise Giles and her husband Stewart Boyce wanted was a modest change to their credit card arrangements with their ANZ bank.
What followed was a long, sometimes bizarre forensic financial examination and the bank’s humiliating ‘no’, which stunned the Wellington couple, who have their own home, have savings and both earn incomes six digits.
The bank has since backtracked on that ‘no’ and apologised, blaming an ill-trained member of staff and stricter responsible lending rules introduced by the government on December 1.
The couple, who manage their finances jointly, already had a credit card with ANZ with a credit limit of $15,500, which they always paid off in full without fail, every month.
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It was in Boyce’s name, with Giles as an additional cardholder, and they used it to pay for their regular living expenses.
But they decided to get a second card to maximize both cash back and Airpoints rewards.
They didn’t want a higher credit limit. They wanted two cards, one with an $8,000 limit and the other with a $7,500 limit.
Most banks will still issue joint credit cards, but they may charge additional fees. ANZ no longer issues joint credit cards. There are risks in going into debt on a credit card with another trusted person.
It was smart banking, and the couple thought it would be a simple request, but Giles’ call to ANZ, which started at 11 a.m. on Saturday May 28, lasted until 1 p.m.
She and her husband, who worked for ANZ and had a mortgage with the bank on their house, were stunned to learn that what they wanted was not possible.
“We should keep the first card with the same credit limit and apply for a second card, increasing our overall credit limit,” she said.
“I was annoyed because it wasn’t what we wanted, but if that was the only way to get a second card, so be it,” she said.
The higher credit limit was not a problem for them, as they had no intention of using it.
But Giles said: ‘What ensued was a harrowing two hours on the phone as they went over every transaction on our account over the past six months.
“These are transactions with them because they are the one and only bank we use. After two harrowing hours, the computer logarithm’s response was ‘no’. My husband and I were furious and humiliated.
Part of the problem is that ANZ does not offer joint credit cards for couples. Each card must be in the name of one or more partners, with the other person added as an additional cardholder.
Some of the most excruciating minutes of the two-hour ordeal were ANZ trying to work out what ‘his’ expenses were, despite the couple managing household finances together.
When the application was denied, Giles requested that the matter be checked by a senior executive, but this led to another surprise.
A few days later, Giles received a call from a bank official.
“The good news was that he could approve the second credit card, but only on the promise that we would stop saving money in our savings account every fortnight,” Giles said.
“The fact that we could prove that we paid off our credit card in full each month, as well as money saved in our savings account fortnightly, was seen as a negative,” he said. she declared.
“We had to promise to stop saving and then we could get the second card approved. My husband was a bank manager for over 20 years and couldn’t believe the stupid anti-logic the bank was using.
After being contacted by ThingsANZ apologized to the couple and gave them the credit card arrangement they originally wanted.
An ANZ spokesperson said: “We also regret that the conversation could have been interpreted in a way that suggests the customer should stop saving.”
She said that following recent changes to the Responsible Lending Act, lenders must capture savings and investments as an expense.
“We expect changes to the … regulations soon to clarify that lenders are no longer required to capture savings and investments as an expense in affordability assessments,” she said. .
She also denied that ANZ’s processes struggled to deal with couples who shared their finances.
Although delighted to now have the card she wanted to issue him, Giles remains in disbelief that ANZ does not have a “reminder” on its phone system, and instead makes customers wait in a queue until a member of the call center staff is free.
“There is no benefit or need for people to sit on hold,” she said.
ANZ has earned enough money to pay for a reminder system, she says, and it would show that it understands that its customers’ time is valuable to them.
The ANZ spokesperson apologized for Giles’ time on hold.