Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Is Westpac there yet ?

"Dear Westpac ...just some feedback … Having received your kind invitation to 'upgrade' to a super-duper Black Mastercard, I phoned the 'exclusive' Black 1300 number to ask a couple of simple questions, and sat for 12 minutes while waiting for someone at this supposedly 'Black Card Priority Service' number to be available to talk to me, before I had to go and do something else and gave up waiting.  

I would have been happy to leave my number and for someone to call back, but I know (from previous encounters with the Westpac credit card enquiry line) that this is not an option that Westpac offers.  [Even the bog-standard ANZ service is better than this, with many enquiries being able to be handled via their online secure email system.]  

So on the basis of this first and (so far) only experience, I would have to doubt Westpac’s claims of ‘black’ signifying a distinctly superior card product." 

Of course, I wasn't happy to leave it there ... I took the trouble to fill out a product enquiry request on the Westpac website, giving details of the above experience, only to push the 'send' button and receive this message:

So then I went to the section of the Westpac website that enables me to give feedback/file a complaint.  And  not wanting to type it all over again, I attempted to paste what was essentially the above text into the feedback/complaints box, only to receive this message:

The upshot is that I really don't think Westpac has got it, even after all their years in the market place.

So what am I going to do about it?  I'm buying more Westpac shares.  If they are using this approach to boost profits, then I want my share of them!

POSTSCRIPT 1 - (16 August 2013): I did indeed buy more Westpac shares, and so far (in just two months approx.) they have gone up 12% ! 

POSTCRIPT 2 -  (20 September 2013): Since writing the above post, I've had occasion to use my nice new black Mastercard to pay a sizeable sum for an overseas holiday, in $USD.  The fees charged by Westpac for this transaction of $USD20,000 approx were $AUD600 !!!!   So I did a quick search to find out why.  Here are the salient points in relation to owning and using one of these cards:

  • Annual fee $395
  • Fee of 2.0% of the Australian dollar value of any purchases or cash advances/withdrawals when the applicable credit card scheme converts the transaction from a foreign currency into Australian dollars
  • MasterCard® Issuer Cross Border Assessment - 0.8% of the transaction amount where a transaction is made using your MasterCard and the merchant or financial institution accepting the card is located outside of Australia
  • MasterCard®Currency Conversion Assessment - 0.2% of the transaction amount for converting foreign currency transactions made using a MasterCard into Australian dollars

The upshot is that the total fees for a $USD transaction of the type I made were 3.0% of the transaction value.  And, of course, you can bet that Mastercard/Westpac used an exchange rate that was not unfavourable from their point of view.

Almost needless to say, my Westpac shares are now up 17% since my purchase of them in mid-June.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, but Scott, you get to feel important and superior as a high net worth individual when you hand over your shiny black credit card. Surely you can afford the 3% to get the recognition you deserve when you buy your toilet paper at Coles?

    Also, can you buy the shares on the credit card?