ASB, ANZ, Westpac accused of credit card debacle with widows

Sarah Busby and her husband Peter ran Gilt Edge Alpaca Farm near Hastings. Photo / Supplied

Many widows have contacted the Herald to tell them about the mistreatment of banks following the death of their husbands.

The Herald this morning revealed how a grieving retiree lost access to her money after Westpac Bank removed her credit card and closed an account after her husband died.

But ANZ and ASB have also been accused of similar practices.

Sarah Busby, a former alpaca farmer in Hastings, said she felt “less appreciated” by ASB after her husband Peter died in February.

She cried on her date with the bank when they canceled it and Peter’s two joint credit cards, only to tell him that she was not eligible for hers because without her pension. husband, she could not prove her income.

She is not yet pensionable age, but said “her bank record was flawless.”

Financial security was the last thing she wanted to worry about in the face of her husband’s grief.

“[I felt] scared, inadequate, vulnerable … pretty horrible feelings for a woman who has had a highly professional career. I am a bright and motivated person and yet I felt completely overwhelmed by it, I had no idea it 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 have 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 giving him another credit card.

She wished ASB had given her a warning about what could happen before they canceled their two credit cards.

Two widows accused the ASB bank of making it difficult to apply for a credit card following the death of their husband.  Photo / NZME
Two widows accused the ASB bank of making it difficult to apply for a credit card following the death of their husband. Photo / NZME

“ Very moving ” experience

Another widow, Jenifer Hart, said she rushed out of her ASB branch in tears after being asked about her average supermarket spending shortly after her husband died.

She and her husband’s two shared 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? “This is something a newly widowed person has no idea because it makes you realize that you are not buying for two anymore,” she says.

Hart described her experience with ASB as “very upsetting”, but she suspects that “all banks are behaving the same way.”

“[My husband] would have turned in his grave to know that I was being treated like that. He realized it was a joint account… it was quite shocking to find out that it didn’t work like that. “

ASB said it has a dedicated team to help bereaved customers throughout the process.

“Our intention is always to help facilitate the process and we sincerely apologize to this client if this was not the case on this occasion. We will follow up with her to better understand what happened and how we can make things smoother in the future ”. he said in a statement.

“ Embarrassed ” after the card was refused

Meanwhile, Garjeet Rai remained “embarrassed” after her credit card was declined as she went to pay for groceries.

She claims that ANZ did not notify her that the joint credit card with her late husband would be canceled.

“You feel embarrassed and you have to go in your wallet, I was lucky to have debit cards with me so I could continue with the purchase,” she says.

She said it took five days to receive a new credit card in her name, and found that “the staff were not very familiar with their products and their processes.”

“They should have seen that I was using a credit card, called me and I would have been okay with that.”

ANZ said it is evaluating whether a credit card will continue to be suitable and affordable for a partner’s needs once a customer dies. He said it was required by law.

“We have improved our processes for customers who died in March 2021, including improved processes for communicating with customers. We continue to seek to improve them,” he said in a statement.

“While we are still reviewing the details of this matter, it appears that we are not meeting our own standards for communicating with the client, and we apologize for that.”

ANZ is one of a series of banks accused of mistreating widows.  Photo / File
ANZ is one of a series of banks accused of mistreating widows. Photo / File

Westpac account confusion woes

The daughter of an Auckland widow, whom the Herald has agreed to keep anonymous, said her mother’s Westpac credit cards were “immediately cut off without her realizing it” after her mother’s death. husband.

The bank issued her a debit card instead, but the family claim that she was accidentally linked to another relative’s account. The widow ended up spending the parent’s money instead.

“She was really struggling,” the widow’s daughter said. “Dad was the one who took care of most of the banking operations.”

She urges Westpac to train staff at her branch so that others in a situation similar to her mother can be notified before their credit cards are canceled.

In a statement, Westpac said it was difficult to respond to complaints without knowing customer details.

However, Westpac sympathized with the customer’s situation and encouraged them to get in touch to resolve any outstanding issues.

“Under responsible lending regulations, we cannot provide credit cards or other debt products to customers whose income may be insufficient to repay that debt.

“These rules are set by the government and regulators with the aim of ensuring that customers do not encounter financial difficulties.

“In these cases, we offer alternative options such as a debit card or Eftpos, which has similar functionality but does not risk the customer going into debt that they cannot afford to pay.

“If we have linked the customer’s debit card to a parent’s account in error, we apologize wholeheartedly.”

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Joan Ferguson

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