Kerre McIvor

Kerre McIvor is a Herald on Sunday columnist

Kerre Woodham: Abandoned and resentful

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Many National Bank customers are feeling jilted by a brand they've been loyal to for years, even decades. 
Photo / NZ Herald
Many National Bank customers are feeling jilted by a brand they've been loyal to for years, even decades. Photo / NZ Herald

I've banked with the National Bank all my life. My Dad was a bank manager; I worked school holidays at the National Bank and I got my first chequebook from the National Bank. They've seen me through my financial lows - and there have been plenty of those.

When I was a young radio reporter, I used to wipe my chequebook over the machine that erased the radio carts in the hope it would demagnetise the cheques and give me an extra few days to find the money to top up my overdrawn account.

They've seen me through my first mortgage. I felt sick with fear signing up for a mortgage. So much money! Would we ever pay it back in our lifetimes? And all the while, the team at the National was there for me. I really liked the people I dealt with there - they were more than just bank managers, or lending officers, or relationship managers - whatever the term of the time happened to be.

I ignored stories in the paper that told mortgage holders to shop around and find the best deal or to demand a better interest rate from your bank and, although I flirted with the idea of joining Kiwibank, I was never unfaithful.

The National Bank and I were a team. Then they announced this week that they were rebranding as ANZ. And that's it. It's over.

I was surprised that I felt as strongly as I did about this. I know that ANZ and National have been one and the same for nearly a decade. And I accept that it makes economic sense to merge the banks into one, especially as the licensing deal with Lloyds TSB for the green colour and the magnificent stallion runs out in 2014.

But the banks are not the same. They have a totally different feel. And plenty of my talkback callers felt the same way. The whole night was devoted to callers who were outraged at the change and the assumption that they would switch brands.

Most of us acknowledged it was an irrational feeling of loyalty - but what are you going to do? That's the way it is.

Other banks have been quick to try to capitalise on the unrest among National Bank customers. The day after the announcement, full page ads appeared in the New Zealand Herald; one from ANZ trying to appease National Bank account holders, two from other banks explaining how easy it was to switch banks.

As I said, I've been faithful for years but if I'm going to be deserted, then that means I'm free to play around. And I shall.

I'll take my whopping Grey Lynn mortgage and see what the other banks can do. It may well be that the ANZ offers the best terms, but I have to say, I'm inclined against them for consigning the National Bank stallion to a lonely death.

For the first time I understand why companies will pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for branding and marketing. There's a whole lot of strength in the National Bank stallion.

One of my texters said she felt classy being a National Bank customer what with the horse and the Vivaldi and Craig Parker's sonorous voice-overs. It remains to be seen whether the ANZ brand carries the same cachet.

Boss and deputy on different planets

I cannot believe Bill English didn't think it necessary to tell his boss that he'd approved the GCSB's investigations of Kim Dotcom being kept secret.

Is it so commonplace for the GCSB (which sounds like a farcical French organisation and appears to be acting like one) to be sniffing out the intentions of foreign nationals in this country that it's not worthy of mention?

If one partner comes back from a trip away and asks "Anything happen while I've been gone?" that's the time to bring them up to speed.

The big stuff and the minutiae - well, in a normal relationship, you would.

It says a lot about the relationship between Prime Minister John Key and his deputy, English, that their communication is stilted at best, non-existent at worst.

And are our surveillance agencies particularly inept or is it just that we only hear about their failures?

Bloody hell, the only time we had real terrorists in the country it was a local Neighbourhood Watch group who alerted the authorities to the presence of spies in our midst.

I accept that there is a need for a security and surveillance department in this country but I really would have thought that it would have been slightly more competent than this.

And that the Prime Minister and his deputy would have their act together.

Clearly not.

Fifty good reasons to ban prose shocker

Chief censor Andrew Jack has ruled there should be no restrictions on the sale of the publishing phenomenon Fifty Shades of Grey.

Although the book deals with a dominant-submissive relationship between a lip-chewing university student and a seriously disturbed billionaire, he decided that there was nothing in the book that would seriously disturb adolescent readers or influence their behaviour. Really?

Any adolescent reader with a reasonable grasp of the English language would indeed be seriously disturbed by this book, and not for the sex scenes. For the execrable writing alone, this book should have been banned.

Or better yet, burned.

- Herald on Sunday

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