Its Not Our Policy

But maybe it should be…

When you respond with ‘its not our policy’ you treat everyone the same and that is often not a good policy. But it is convenient and expedient.

I rang the Commonwealth Bank today to ask if we could increase our line of credit from $250K to $300K. We probably won’t ever need it, but it was a ‘just in case’ measure, as we look at selling, buying and doing a few renos on the place in Yanchep.

All was going wonderfully until I was asked for the amount I earnt based on my last income tax assessment. That would be $31K… It doesn’t sound like very much does it, but then we did travel around Australia for that half that year and we did have substantial deductions. We are yet to submit last year’s tax return, but chances are with deductions and all of my church pay as non-reportable fringe benefits it won’t look huge either.

So that conversation went like this:

“Based on that amount we can’t lend you any more money sir.”

“I understand that – and that makes sense if that is all you have to go on – but I haven’t done this year’s tax return yet and that will be significantly different. However if you check my loan repayments you will observe that we have paid back 5 times the amount required each week for the last 18 months. Would you not say that constitutes a pattern worthy of consideration?”

“I understand what you are saying sir but its not the bank’s policy”

“Do you think maybe you could talk to someone and change the policy because I think we have clearly demonstrated that we aren’t going to struggle with the loan”

“I’m sorry sir’ said the commbank robot. “I can’t do anything. That is our policy”

“But do you not see what I am saying? You could lose a customer here because you have an inflexible ‘policy’?… Does that not seem a little dumb?”

“I’m sorry sir, but that is our policy and I cannot take this application any further”

“So you realise I will change banks.”


So the ‘policy’ might be a helpful general approach to situations but it isn’t going to work in every setting. And when you are the one who gets dealt the pointy end of the pineapple you are not impressed. I do understand the need for an organisation to have some parameters in place that enable them to make efficient decisions, but I’d suggest that ‘its not our policy’ is also a convenient ‘out’, when tricky situations approach and people need to think outside the square a little.

In running my own business its a phrase I try not to use – ever – because it reflects blanket thinking rather than individual thinking. Ok, so maybe that’s a bit of a stretch for the Commonwealth, but given the profits they made in the last year perhaps they could consider employing someone as a ‘policy bender’ or a ‘what about this one?’ consultant.

A great way to keep business and to show concern for individuals rather than just profits…

But alas I think that is but another one of my dreams… Then again if someone with some muscle from the banking industry reads this and hears what I’m saying perhaps a change might take place…

6 thoughts on “Its Not Our Policy

  1. Got the same issue with borrowing money on a “low” income even though we have paid off 60 thousand in three years. Frustrating.

  2. Need to check out ‘Yes Man’ with Jim Carey and Rhys Darby. Might be some comic relief in this context. The movie is not outrageously funny (slapstick American) but Rhys Darby (Murray from Flight of the Concords) is the comic genius in this movie though.

  3. I’ve found having a good broker involved over the past few years has been invaluable. Whenever I’ve spoken to CBA about an issue and got their default “that’s not our policy” answer, I’ve found the broker has been able to run it through their contacts at the bank and get the outcome I desired – they seem to be able to communicate with the 2 or 3 people within CBA that have any authority to make an actual decision. (The broker even managed to get someone to see through the absurd situation where CBA wouldn’t increase the limit on our credit card we’d paid off entirely every single month even though they were happy to offer us a new credit card at the higher limit on the exact same plan/terms as the existing card!)

  4. I totally understand and agree with your thoughts Andrew, friend in a similar spot.

    Problem is, there is a real problem with foreclosures at the moment, it is a hidden epidemic, and the banks are scared.

  5. I had a similar response from Bankwest when I asked to extend my home loan up to $20k to fund a sensible and economical new car.

    This is a small fraction of the equity in the house, and I’ve been well ahead with mortgage repayments for nearly all of the 18 years I’ve been a faultless Bankwest customer. Answer was no, because on the day I asked, my income was slightly too low.

    I pointed out that the only limiting factor was that I had been studying and working part time for 3 years (while still ahead with repayments), and now that I had finished studying, my hours and income would soon increase. Answer still no.

    Sorry but I can’t see the business sense in spending bucket loads of money on advertising to attract customers … and then when they do get the sort of long-term low-risk customers they need, being so inflexible as to drive them elsewhere.

  6. Rest assured that the bank does have a policy to accomodate your situation. What you heard is the only response the local loans officer is authorised to make. If you can find a personal account manager in CBA head office, the story would be very different. Local loans officers are only contractors and have limited parameters in which they operate. You are just talking to the wrong person Hammo – look further within the bank. I reckon you’ll be OK.

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