Standard Bank – it’s not me; it’s you

About eight months after I closed my Standard Bank account I receive a letter from The Card Collections Manager claiming I owe them R40.68 and if I don’t pay within 10 days they will see me in court. As if! It seems they are trying to steal R40.68 from all their ex-clients in an attempt to make up the R300-million that the phishers stole from them. I wrote this letter in reply.

Your Reference: 5221266465186483

My Reference: What Part of “It’s Over” Don’t You Understand?

Dear The Card Collections Manager


I received a letter today from your good self, informing me that you have cancelled my credit card, which is quite a surprise considering I cancelled all my accounts with Standard Bank last year – so I don’t actually have a credit card to cancel. Your letter is like a boyfriend who tries to save face by telling his girlfriend that he is breaking up with her – even though she broke up him and has already moved on to a much nicer and cleverer and more honest boyfriend. Let’s be clear, Standard Bank Card Collections Manager – I dumped you.

Last year, after about 25 years of being a Standard Bank customer and never once missing a payment or being in arrears, I walked into the Thibault Square branch and cancelled all my accounts. Yes, after a quarter of a century I finally had enough of being in a horrible relationship and wanted out. It was a give-take relationship. I gave, you took. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy to break ties – I had to wait in queues, fill out forms and transfer debit orders. It was a pain, but I’d had enough – I was sick of your incompetence, of you not listening (and giving me the silent treatment), and of you dipping into my accounts. Of course, you didn’t want me to go – and you put up a fight – you kept calling me and begging me to reconsider. What can you do to change, you asked. But it was a case of too little, too late. I was adamant. It took about five phone calls or so but eventually, you got the message and agreed.

I thought that was – and then I got your threatening letter today, telling me I owe you money – and that my account is in default. It’s like you’re in denial, Mr Standard Bank Card Collections Manager. Just so we’re clear: We’re over. We’re through. We’re done. Get a grip, dude. Pull yourself together. I’m now with First National Bank – and we’re having a really good time. FNB  gets me in a way you never did.

You see, I left because of your indifference and your incompetence – and this letter just reinforces my negative view of your shoddy service. No, Mr Standard Bank Card Collections Manager, I don’t owe you R40.68. In fact, you owe me money. As I explained back then, and because I can tell that you are struggling to hear me, you started dipping into my account taking extra bank charges for a second time and when I tried to get answers I was just met with more indifference.

Your threats of court action, Mr The Card Collections Manager, don’t scare me.

So, do me a favour, amend your records – send me one more message apologising for your error, wish me well in my new banking relationship and leave me alone – and, if you don’t mind some constructive criticism, try to be a better bank.

With no regards whatsoever

Jonathan Ancer

PS: By the way, Standard Bank – it’s not me. It’s you. It’s definitely you.

Another PPS: Perhaps instead of worrying about the R40,68 you claim I owe you, I think you may have bigger phish to fry (did someone say R300-million?)


About Jonathan Ancer

I'm a journalist, cryptic crossword junkie, keen cyclist, Billy Bunter book collector and a Billy Bragg stalker. I love words and will post some of the columns I have written over the years on this blog. They include: View from the G-spot (my time as editor of a community newspaper in Grahamstown), Virgin Cyclist (the build up to my first Argus Cycle Tour), Pop psychology (my take on fatherhood) and Angry Utterances (10) (how crossword puzzles unlock the world's secrets and the meaning of life). Since leaving Independent Newspapers in September 2014 I have started freelancing and write a column for the Witness - The Diary of a Bumbling Hack. I've also become a podcast junkie and have produced a podcast biography series called Extraordinary Lives. Let me know what you think.
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6 Responses to Standard Bank – it’s not me; it’s you

  1. That’s bloody marvellous!


  2. Robin Adams says:

    Absolutely BRILLIANT! South African banks are the worst.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Excellent 🙂 Well written and it made me laugh. It resonates with me. They did the same thing to me when I closed my account with them, many many Moons ago.

  4. Ani says:

    The man I work for has a business account at Standard Bank. I am utterly appalled by their services. It’s utterly shocking at how unhelpful they are.

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