On calling customer service

I have social anxiety and an imagination that runs away with me, which means that all the things I am afraid of are made even worse in my mind. It’s not as bad as it sounds — and I can laugh at myself, thank goodness — but it does mean that I take very roundabout steps to do something that many people manage to do quite well.

My keycard expired in October — about six days ago, I think. I didn’t receive a replacement in the post, (probably) largely because I hadn’t updated my address details in time. I moved house last year. Last year. I actually updated my address two weeks before my card expired — so, basically, during those two weeks in which my replacement card was probably travelling to my old address.

(An aside: it took me over a year to update my address details because my local bank branch called me and asked me if I had moved, and when I replied that I had, told me I had to update my details by calling up or coming into a branch. This happened sometime in June. I spent the last four months psyching myself up to make a phone call and desperately searching the website to see if I could do it online. I somehow stumbled across the link in mid-October, and all was well.)

October 31st came and went, and I still have no bankcard. Most people would have called up then. Not I. I navigated Westpac’s maze of a website, found an email address, sent a plaintive note begging them to send it through… and received a very polite form letter that said something along the lines of ‘Please call our staff to request a replacement card’, but was read by my mind as, ‘YOU’RE SCREWED. You have to go and confess! You’ll call the bank and then they’ll say, “hrm, you know why it wasn’t sent? Because you updated your details too late! Why did you do that? You suck! We’ll send you your card but never do it again, or we’ll close your account and tell your parents that all you really have in the world is 60c, which is about to become -$6.90, by the way, because we’re about to deduct service fees for your irresponsible overwithdrawal and stuff.”‘

Not the sort of thing you want to hear over the phone.

Valerie tried to reason with me, telling me that they’re customer service staff and all they’ll say is, ‘whoops! We’ll send you another one right this minute.’ This would make sense.

But you see.

My missing bankcard is not their fault. It’s actually my fault and they’ll know it, because they’ll have little timestamps or something horrible on all updates to every customer’s contact details AND THEY’LL KNOW THAT I DID IT TOO LATE.

I decided, then and there, that it would be monumentally less scary if I simply closed my Westpac account and opened up a new one (online) with a completely different bank. That way, I would get a new bank card and never have to talk to anyone, and how much more awesome is that?

For those who are in the market for new bank accounts, St. George seems to have the lowest monthly bank fees for general transaction/savings accounts — something like $4-7 a month. Like most other branches, their student account is fee-free. This made me very happy, as I currently do not hold a student account at Westpac and am being charged exhorbitant amounts of money.

Except, you see, to apply for a student account you have to actually turn up to a branch and show student ID. Which I have. But I have to go to a branch and talk to someone and I’m not too keen on doing so. It then became a matter of tossing up the options:

  1. Go to a St George bank, open up a student account, live happily ever after but only after having talked to someone (chances of surviving: about the same as slaying a dragon with a toothpick);
  2. Forget the St George student account and open a regular one online, not talk to anyone and live happily ever after, but pay $7 a month for the privilege;
  3. Call Westpac and confess all my wrong-doings, receive my replacement card, and live happily ever with only occasional nightmares of Westpac staff looming over me, recounting my failure to update my details.

I crossed out the first option because while talking to someone face-to-face is slightly better than talking to someone on the phone, I will eventually have to contact Westpac to close my account, else they will constantly bill me for services and I will go into debt for failing to do yet more seemingly simple admin work.

The second option, though palatable, would mean transferring quite a few things (sixty whole cents; addresses; bank details) from one branch to another. I wasn’t competent enough to change my address in time, so trying to do a complete shifting of money-stuffz seemed a bit ambitious. Which meant, really, that I just had to buck up and call Westpac.


After arranging all the things I could ever possibly need in front of me (like my name; I actually do freeze up and forget things like my name, lol!), I called Westpac’s number. I was quite relieved to find an automated machine telling me to key in all my information, because a machine does not mind if you failed to update your address in time. Eventually, this machine-filled idyll ended and I was put through to a real person, whose name I forgot to ask and dearly wish I had.

Because he was wonderful.

He checked my details, sent through a request for a new card and all is well. And I wasn’t busted for not updating my details in time because he didn’t realise. I wish I could give you a transcript of the conversation, but it’s been distorted by my memory and now sounds something like this:

‘Oh hey, welcome to Westpac; you’re really cool. I like your hair bow, or I would, except I can’t see it because we’re on the phone. Your card hasn’t arrived? That sucks. Let me send you a new one. Not your fault. Our fault. Have a billion dollars to make up for it!’

That is how awesome our anonymous Westpac card service guy is. I wish I had his name because then I’d send his supervisors emails telling them to promote him to the post of Srsly Awesome Dude, and he would get to wear an awesome hat and everything.


So now I have a card coming in the next few days. Very cool. I don’t get a billion dollars but I will get access to my 60c soon. And I wasn’t busted, which is all that counts. I’m now in my happy ‘I can call the entire world!’ space, but don’t actually ask me to, because not everyone is as awesome as the Westpac guy.


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