I have been a BNZ customer since the 1990s. We had a mortgage with them back then, and when I went into business in 2001 I set up a business account with them too. I set up a trust in 2006 to protect the family home, also with the BNZ. I have always had a great relationship with their business managers: one in particular who looked after our business for over 10 years. When a survey asked the question “How likely are you to recommend the BNZ to others?” my answer was always “Very likely”.

I am not so sure about that now.

I still have the trust account. I have just never bothered to unravel it all. It would cost time and money that hardly seemed worth spending. I also have an overdraft facility in the trust that is hardly used, but I would prefer to keep it in case of unexpected emergencies.

On 3 May 2022, I got an email from the BNZ department known as OCDD. It said that it was checking to make sure they had the right email address for the trust. It then said that, because of the AML rules, I needed to provide two forms of ID – one with photo identification and the other being a utilities bill or similar, showing my address.

Here is what the email said.

We’re contacting customers where our records indicate that some of your information held in relation to accounts at BNZ is missing or is incorrect. We require the below information be provided so we can continue to meet our legal obligations, as well as ensuring we have the most up-to-date information in our system and continue to protect you against impersonation and fraud.

We understand form-filling and information collection can be time consuming, but it’s important to know, if we don’t receive the details requested within 30 days of the date of this email, we may be required to close or place restrictions on your account(s), which may affect your ability to access or pay money out of your account(s).

BNZ

Hmmm. I sent both off electronically and thought I had done as requested. I had missed something though. As I was using a driver licence as photo ID, for some reason I also needed to send another form of identification.

Needless to say, the reply came back and said I had not provided all the information required. It also said that this information had to be verified, and that I needed to get a JP or similar to sign, or alternatively, I could just go into a BNZ branch.

I made the mistake of thinking the latter option would be the easiest.

I walked into the Lower Hutt branch right on opening time and looked for an information desk, where they could take the paperwork, rubber stamp it and let me go on my way. No information desk. Lots of electronic terminals and only two tellers. Then I was accosted by a lady who seemed to think I was there to rob the bank (I was wearing a mask after all, but then… so was she). She ordered me to sit down. I resisted. She then asked why I was there. I explained. She took my paperwork, said she would photocopy it. This whole process took 15 minutes, while I watched her copying my information at least six times. Finally, she handed my paperwork to a teller, gave me back the originals and said there was one person in front of me and then I would be called.

Since when has going to the bank been like this?

Fifteen minutes had passed when a teller became available… but not the one that had my paperwork. I was told to go to the desk while my minder scurried around looking for my paperwork. The music from Benny Hill came into my head…

The teller spent ages on her keyboard, searching for help. I tried to assist by writing down the name of the trust. I am fairly sure it saved us both at least half an hour. I looked at the ever elongating queue of people waiting to talk to tellers and was horrified by how long it was taking to provide ID to a bank that I had been associated with for more than 20 years.

The real joke came when I had to provide a third form of ID. I suggested a BNZ credit card. The teller recoiled in horror. Apparently, anything from the BNZ would not count. Why? Because I am a criminal, impersonating some poor unfortunate individual who had been overcome by noxious gases? Well, I had their wallet, so I could produce any sort of ID that the bank would require. Eventually, we settled on another card, and off she went to photocopy that another six times. By the way, did I mention that the teller went away and photocopied my original paperwork at least twice more? That is eight copies, according to my count.

Can someone explain to me what is a bigger form of ID than turning up in person? This is me; here is my photo ID and as you can see, it is me. All my cards have the same name and information. Is there any doubt?

After a total of half an hour, having been the second person to walk into the bank on opening, I was finally released with an assurance that I had supplied all the information required. I kept my curses under my breath, thanked the teller for her assistance and left the bank, thinking it was all over.

Unfortunately, it was a long way from over.

A week later, another email.

Thank you for providing that information to us with regards to our last email.

Now that we have confirmed an email for the trust entity, we will move forward with requesting the remaining information required to close off this case.

Information relating to the Trust:

Trust Deed

To confirm the trustees and structure of the trust we require an up-to-date Trust Deed.

We do not hold a Trust Deed in our systems, please provide the original trust deed and any subsequential amendments/retirements to confirm current trustees. (If applicable)

Once we have received this we may ask for more information from you.

BNZ

The problem was that, by the time this email arrived, the original trust deed and I were on different islands. I emailed them to ask for an extension of the 30-day time limit, as I could not provide the information in time.

The request was refused.

To be continued

Christie

Ex-pat from the north of England, living in NZ since the 1980s, I consider myself a Kiwi through and through, but sometimes, particularly at the moment with Brexit, I hear the call from home. I believe...