FNB should really reconsider debiting customers earlier in December

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On Wednesday afternoon I received a rather concerning message by way of the FNB App.

“Hi Brendyn. Your credit card debit order will be processed on your salary date 15/12/2020 to help you manage your finances during the holiday season,” read the message.

This message was unexpected and the contents were confusing.

At no point in my working life has my salary date been the 15th of the month. As with most people, I am paid at the end of the month so I was curious about how this conclusion was arrived at.

As this message was sent and received after hours, I had to wait until this morning to contact FNB.

Thankfully we were able to have my questions answered by chief executive officer at Retail Collections at FNB, Kuben Gounden, who provided some clarity on this practice.

“The early debit order run is an annual process which involves certain lending and insurance products within FNB. Where we have contractually agreed with a customer to align their debit order date to their salary date, we may adjust the debit order date in December as we know that many organisations pay employees earlier in December, leading up to the festive period,” Gounden told Hypertext.

What strikes me as odd is that this process is done without asking the customer whether they will be paid earlier in the month. While FNB says that it alerts the customer in advance, this means that the onus is on the customer to go through opting out of this process, something that took us 20 minutes to do on the phone this morning.

Even worse is that during that phone call we were told by an agent that we didn’t have to do anything. After insisting that we verify this, we were handed to the credit card department which took us through the process of moving the debit order back to the original date.

Thankfully, if you do nothing and the debit order goes off, you won’t be penalised.

“If a customer has insufficient funds in their account at the time of the debit order transaction, they will not incur any penalties,” Gounden told us.

With that having been said, contact FNB and request your debit order date to remain the same.

This is just a bizarre practice and I’m not alone in my shock. When I mentioned it to contact centre agents they told me they had brought this concern up with management as other customers had complained as well.

While FNB’s explanation makes sense, it just seems so out of touch with reality in 2020. Many people are struggling and in the case of debits, many folks will now face being debited on the 1st and the 15th of this month because FNB knows “that many organisations pay employees earlier in December”.

The key phrase there FNB is many, not all. Perhaps this practice deserves a rethink, especially after the year we’ve had.

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.