Dear Standard Bank,
We've come a long way. It's been a marriage of almost 20 years. I remember opening my account with you to deposit my first salary. Over the years, I spent a lot of money with you. Too much to think about.
But, during the last few years especially, you have done nothing but disappoint me. There has been no joy in being associated with you.
I have just returned to South Africa and I started thinking about leaving you. At first it was just a fleeting thought but the comedy of systemic errors and your outdated processes became too much.
Do you remember the fun times when overseas deposits would sit idle, waiting for you to clear them but you didn't because you thought I would call to find out what was happening? Or the particularly awesome experience of having my credit card debited for every swipe from my debit card - and charging me a cash advance fee for your mistake. Good thing I checked my statement, eh?
Or, what about the time you wanted me to fax something. I mean, sies man, fax? Do you kiss your mother with that mouth? Speaking of your mother, she's on email now, you know. Everyone is. Other banks are too.
I have started hearing some of your radio ads. You are courting new customers. Maybe you are bleeding some. You are offering all sorts of gifts and things. But how about those of us who have been with you for a long time? When is the last time you offered me something for my loyalty?
When another bank started courting me, proactively, I decided it was time. They have a different attitude. It seems to be in their culture. They are offering me so much more benefit for the same fees as I paid to you.
And now, as I am leaving, you don't seem to care. Did you not notice me closing my facilities, one after the other? Did you not notice that I am switching debit orders? I mean, it doesn't take a forensic accountant to figure it out, does it? Yet, you don't call, you don't write.
I think you don't care.
Now, leaving you seems to be the hardest part. Do you want to know what happened in your branch today? I have been trying to close my credit card. I transferred the exact outstanding amount. I call the call centre to do the job but they say .. no ... There is still R22.47 outstanding. So, I go to the branch, pay the money into the account with a teller, take the receipt to your enquiries desk and the lady completes the form.
Reason for leaving bank: "No need for account," she writes. I said, "You didn't ask me what the reason was."
She looked perplex: "Do you want me to put something else?"
Yes, I want you to write I am closing this account because you have changed. You are not simpler better faster anymore. You're "moving forward". But you're not.
She ignores me, and calls Card Division. She comes back. "Sorry you still owe 8 cents."
8 cents, Standard Bank. From the five minutes that it took me to walk from the teller to enquiries, another 0.08 was added and now I can't close the card until I have paid in the money. I hold up a 10c coin. No, she said, you have already made one cash deposit this month and you will not be allowed another.
"You will have to transfer the 0.08 online and then we will check that the balance is reflected as zero, and then we will close it."
People in the queue behind me were gasping.
Standard Bank, I don't know where you are going, but you're not moving forward. But I am no longer going with you.