04 July 2010

Double ineptitude: BankSA and CGU Insurance's negligence shafts longstanding customer

For the last few weeks I have suffered at the hands of BankSA and CGU insurance.

Here is an edited summary of my claim against them.

1. I am a longstanding customer of Bank SA.

2. I have been a CGU Insurance Customer for several years and currently hold Home & Contents and Motor Vehicle Insurance policies. I have previously held travel insurance and other motor vehicle policies.

3. Bank SA and CGU Insurance hold themselves out to be a single entity: for example Bank SA branch staff wear both Bank SA and CGU logos on their uniforms.

4.In May 2010 I purchased a motor vehicle. When I arranged for a Bank SA bank cheque to complete the purchase I also took out CGU Insurance Policy No 23B 1490698 00. I opted to pay the premium, as I had done with every other CGU motor vehicle and home/ contents policy I’ve ever held, by monthly instalments from my Bank SA savings account.

5. On 1 June 2010 I received an unsigned letter dated 27/05/2010 from CGU which said in part:

We have been advised by your financial institution that an instalment of $43.00 for your insurance premium could not be drawn on 23/05/2010 due to insufficient funds.

This statement is false. At the time I had several hundred dollars in the account from which I had authorised the money to be drawn.

6. On receipt of the letter I went directly to the Bank SA Norwood Branch. Staff there looked into the matter and, I believe, contacted CGU. The Norwood staff said that Banks SA/CGU had somehow attempted to access an online savings account (which had a balance on many thousands of dollars) instead of the one I had instructed them to do. I was told that everything had been rectified/ I requested to transfer the $43.00 then and there but was told that the alleged arrears would be deducted on 23 June.

7. On 28 June 2010 I rang CGU to request them to review my premium to take account of the towbar which I’d had fitted to my car. D, the CGU representative with whom I spoke, was unable to provide this information on the spot but said that she would ring be back the next day with it. Before I rang off I asked D to confirm that the payment which I’d authorised and instructed Bank SA to make on 23 June had gone through. She looked into the matter and reported that it had not. I asked to be transferred to the CGU complaints department. D would not do so but said that she’d pass on a message and that would get someone to telephone me before she got back to me the following day.

8. On 29 June D rang me back with details of the premium adjustment. When I asked her about BankSA/CGU contravening my instructions after some discussion she put me through to S. S looked into the matter, confirmed that everything I’d said was correct and admitted that somehow my bank account details had been incorrectly transcribed (apparently one digit was wrong!). She offered an oral apology and gave an undertaking to send a written and signed apology and retraction to me as soon as possible. Given the seriousness of my allegations and concerns and the effusiveness of her apology, I took this to mean within the next business day.

9. On 2 July I received, not the letter which S had undertaken to send, but another unsigned letter from CGU dated 28/06/2010 (ie the same day as I’d alerted D) stating

Our attempts to withdraw instalment insurance premiums from your nominated account as requested by you have been unsuccessful on two or more consecutive occasions.

This statement is false, for the reasons stated above.

The letter continued by cancelling my monthly instalments and demanding payment of the full premium within 14 days on pain of cancellation of the policy.

10. Because of BankSA/CGU’s negligence and prevarication I have been reluctant to use my car.as I am not confident that, should circumstances arise which may lead to a claim, either or both parties would honour their obligations.

11. I have suffered loss due to Bank SA and CGU’s negligence. Because of their close commercial relationship and the circumstances outlined above I consider that they are jointly and severally liable to compensate me for my loss.

Update 5 July

Today went to BankSA. Delivered statement (see above) , discussed issues with customer service (ie low level) staff. Agreed to take phone call tomorrow from middle manager. Oh, and still no letter as promised by CGU 6 days ago.

Update 6 July

Wheels are turning. Had phone calls from BankSA and CGU which if I believe them (and my internal jury is still out on that one) may produce some sort of resolution. After all the stuffing around I'd hope that both organisations will change their practices so that mistakes like this don't occur as often as they must do given all the CGU insurance customers recruited by BankSA.

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