Bank customer woes and triumphs around the globe


With all of the customer fury aimed at banks in the United States, especially since the Great Recession kicked into gear last year, you might well wonder what things are like elsewhere in North America and around the world. So I just thought I'd take any interested parties on a little international global banking tour -- no passport needed. You may decide that it's not so bad being a bank customer in America -- or, yeah, you may find yourself wishing that moving halfway around the world to have a better bank was a practical idea.

South Africa: There's been a lot of tampering going on with ATMs, and so Absa Bank started rigging some of its machines with pepper spray. Try to rob its ATM, it figured, and the thief will get what's coming to them. This apparently was working out great until one of the machines misfired and sprayed three maintenance workers.

Australia: Could it happen here? The National Bank of Australia recently decided to drop its overdraft fees. That's right -- they're gone -- and that's been causing rival Australian banks to slash their own overdraft charges. One of the NAB executives told an Australian paper, "The decision is final. There are no disclaimers. We will not reverse it, and importantly, we will not recoup the fee anywhere else." Abolishing overdraft fees is expected to wipe out $100 million in Australian dollars from the National Bank of Australia's annual income, although maybe it will make some of it back by attracting new customers.