Consumer’s recent survey of customer satisfaction with banks showed I might be a happier punter if switched from ANZ to another bank. The survey showed only 47 percent of ANZ customers would recommend it, compared with an overall 57 percent who would recommend their bank.

The Aussie-owned banks fared less well in our survey than local banks. But a recent conversation over my mortgage (thankfully nearing termination) and the follow-up letter has made me think ANZ is at least trying to do better by its customers.

I received a letter telling me the mortgage was up for renewal and if I did nothing it would go on to a floating rate. I rang and asked what was on offer. Once given the rate, I asked if the bank could do better (long-serving customer, competition, blah blah). The very helpful woman said that was the rate, but if I had heard of a cheaper one from a competing bank she would speak to her supervisor about providing that same rate to me. While we spoke, I hopped on to a mortgage interest rate comparison site, found a better rate and suggested it to her. She would get back to me. Blow me down she did. The new offer was better than the competing rate and for a longer period.

But that’s not all …

The email confirming my new rate was comprehensible. Finally, a document from the bank even the dim-witted could understand. It had stuff I wanted to know, such as the total interest payable over the period, the indicative total amount payable, when it started and ended, and all the boring stuff about fees associated with early repayment. Important information wasn’t buried in 40 pages of legal nonsense. It was all contained in four plain English pages. Naturally I don’t agree with the high bank fees, but at least I understand what I’m being charged for.

I also have a wee niggle in the back of my mind about bartering for my mortgage. What if you’re a reticent person who wouldn’t dream of questioning the bank? At Consumer we always tell people to shop around to get the best deal possible. Banks are no exception.

If you want to know more about mortgages and their varying types, banking, credit cards and what value you get out of their loyalty schemes, join us.

I’m looking forward to mortgage-free days.

About the author:

Sue Chetwin has been our Chief Executive since April 2007 after more than 25 years in print journalism. She was formerly the Editor of Sunday News, Sunday Star Times and the Herald on Sunday.

Sue oversees all of Consumer’s operations and is also the public face of the organisation. Sue is a director of the Banking Ombudsman Scheme and a member of the Electricity Authority Retail Advisory group.