Numerous widows have contacted the Herald describing poor treatment from banks following the death of their husbands.
The Herald revealed this morning how a grieving pensioner lost access to her money after Westpac Bank stripped her of her credit card and closed an account following her husband's death.
But ANZ and ASB have also been accused of similar practices.
Sarah Busby, a former alpaca farmer in Hastings, said she felt "less valued" by ASB after her husband Peter died in February.
She cried during her appointment with the bank when they cancelled her and Peter's two joint credit cards, only to then tell her she was not eligible for her own because without her husband's pension she could not prove income.
She is not of the age eligible for the pension yet, but said her "record with the bank had been without a blemish".
Financial security was the last thing she wanted to worry about when dealing with the grief of her husband.
"[I felt] frightened, inadequate, vulnerable ... pretty awful feelings for a woman who has had a highly professional career. I'm a bright and motivated person and yet I felt completely squashed by this, I had no idea this was going to happen.
"I felt that as a widow ... I was less valued and that they had less confidence in me but actually I've got a lot of confidence in myself.
"That's what added to the shock. They treated me in a way I've probably never been treated before."
Busby said she called the bank every two or three days for three weeks before they granted her another credit card.
She wishes ASB had given her warning about what could happen before cancelling their two credit cards.
'Very upsetting' experience
Another widow, Jenifer Hart, said she rushed out of her ASB branch in tears after being asked about her average spend at the supermarket, shortly after her husband's death.
Her and her husband's two joint credit cards were also closed and she was applying for a new one under her own name.
"The first question was, 'What was your average spend at the supermarket?' That is something a newly widowed person has no idea of because it makes you realise you're not buying for two anymore," she said.
Hart described her experience with ASB as "very upsetting", but she suspects "all banks behave in the same way".
"[My husband] would have turned in his grave to know I was treated like this. He understood it was a joint account … it was quite a shock to discover it doesn't work like that."
ASB said it has a dedicated team to help bereaved customers through the process.
"Our intention is always to help smooth the process and we sincerely apologise to this customer if that was not the case on this occasion. We will be following up with her to better understand what happened and how we can make things smoother in future," it said in a statement.
'Embarrassed' after card declined
Meanwhile Garjeet Rai was left "embarrassed" after her credit card was declined as she went to pay for groceries.
She claims ANZ had failed to warn her the joint credit card with her late husband would be cancelled.
"You feel embarrassed and you've got to go into your wallet, I was lucky I had debit cards with me so I could carry on with the purchase," she said.
She said it took five days to be given a new credit card in her name, and she found "staff weren't that knowledgeable about their products and processes".
"They should have seen I was using a credit card, rung me up and I would have been okay with that."
ANZ said it assesses whether a credit card would continue to be suitable and affordable for a partner's needs once a customer dies. It said this is required by law.
"We improved our processes around deceased customers in March 2021, including improved processes for communicating with customers. We continue to look to improve these," it said in a statement.
"While we're still looking into the specifics of this case, it appears we didn't meet our own standards around communication with the customer, and we apologise for this."
Westpac account mix-up woes
The daughter of an Auckland widow, who the Herald has agreed to keep anonymous, said her mother's Westpac credit cards were "immediately cut off without her realising" after her husband's death.
The bank issued her a debit card instead, but the family claims it was accidentally linked to the account of another relative. The widow ended up spending the relative's money instead.
"She was really struggling," the widow's daughter said. "Dad had been the person who took care of most of the banking."
She urges Westpac to train its branch staff so others in a similar situation to her mother can be warned before their credit cards are cancelled.
In a statement, Westpac said it was difficult to respond to the claims without knowing the customer's details.
However, Westpac empathised with the customer's situation and encouraged them to get in contact to address any outstanding issues.
"Under responsible lending regulations we cannot provide credit cards or other debt products to customers who may have insufficient income to service that debt.
"These rules are set by the Government and regulators with the aim of ensuring that customers don't get into financial difficulty.
"In these cases we offer alternate options such as a Debit or Eftpos card, which has similar functionality but does not risk the customer falling into debt they cannot afford to pay.
"If we did link the customer's debit card to a relative's account in error, we unreservedly apologise."