MY MOTHER had an account with the Australia and New Zealand Bank (remember them?) and after she died I found a passbook (remember them?) and took it to the nearest branch.
"We don't do passbook accounts any more." This was 2002.
She didn't need to explain why. They attracted no fees and thus made the banks no profit.
So the teller (remember them?) put Mum's passbook into the terminal and the computer started to whir and the printer started to rattle and clank and heave. When it came to an end, the printer had jammed on the first page and all the pages were overprinted and unreadable.
No, she couldn't reprint it. Silly me. Of course she couldn't. How dare I ask the bank to fix one of its failings.
"Okay, so can I draw out the remainder of the funds please?"
"There's nothing in the account. The monthly fee ate it all."
So more than $1300 of monthly fees ate all the money in the account and created a jumble of unreadable paper. That's modern banking - or was back then.
Note that banks all have "friendly" names now that don't identify the country. The Bank of New South Wales became the Wales and then they spent megabucks to transform it to Westpac - so much less disturbing to people outside its originating state.
NAB used to have something about a country Down Under but moving right along.
I have one account with the NAB. The NAB has been busy closing branches and ripping out ATMs. And since they changed the software, an ATM can no longer give me a balance on my credit card, even though it offers one on the menu. I can use the card to deposit or withdraw money but the system has no idea how much is in the account and is no longer able to find out. Or maybe I'm no longer permitted to know.
I use internet banking with my other two banks but after I read NAB's clause 30 many years ago, I decided against using theirs. My NAB bank manager (remember them?) wanted me to use it, so I asked if she'd read the clause. She pulled a copy of the conditions from her mahogany desk drawer, flipped to the clause and cracked up.
"I'm going into the weekly phone hookup of managers in the region shortly. I'll read it to them."
What was so funny about a clause written by a bank lawyer? It said if I used the NAB online banking system and it destroyed everything on my computer and even if it was the bank's fault, they were not responsible. Just like that. No mucking about. I should have known.
Until that moment, my bank manager had never read her conditions. Have you?
One of the banks has just a couple of ATMs available over a large area because the others are inside shopping centres that are closed at night. So the other day I went to the bank in the shopping complex because they shut down the branch in the main street.
It was tiny. No tellers. No cash crossed the counter. If you want money, use an ATM. If you want to put money in, use an ATM - one takes coins and notes, counts them and spends longer checking it than any teller would. But it's only customer time, not teller time.
So I finally worked out the next step in the evolution of the bank. Soon we will no longer have a bank branch. All that will be left will be a twig.
Pollie Tickled is a satirical column.
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