As any savvy Australian with an interest in personal finance will tell you, NAB’s online only banking division, UBank, consistently offers one of the best rates for personal savings accounts in Australia.
I’ve been a customer of UBank since 2012 and while I’ve enjoyed attempting to support a progressive, online only banking institution I’ve become so fed up with the poor quality site, staff and processes that I am now closing all of my UBank accounts and moving my cash savings to ING.
Below are a few of the main reasons why I no longer use UBank and no longer recommend them to family and friends:
0. Their website is useless
Sadly, three years later, their website still sucks. And sucks a lot.
1. They cannot complete basic banking tasks that all customers rely on
Say you decide to create a transaction account with UBank. Say you decide you want to buy an appliance that costs $4,000 from someone on Gumtree. The Gumtree guy, of course, wants cash. Seems like a reasonable and relatively common use-case, right?
So how do you get the money out of your account to pay the Gumtree guy?
You quite literally cannot, on a whim, extract more than $1,000 out of your UBank Ultra transaction account on any given day to pay someone in cash. UBank’s default ATM withdrawal limit is $1,000. And guess what? You can’t change it! So if you want to buy something for $1,010 in cash you’re fucked.
Your only options in this case is to:
- Withdraw $1,000 per day till you have sufficient cash to pay for the goods/services; or
- Direct debit or BPAY some other account that isn’t affiliated with UBank and hope that that account is able to withdraw more than $1,000 a day.
Of course, since UBank is an online-only institution, you cannot go to a branch and request the teller to withdraw funds from your account.
2. Their back-end processes are as useless and frustrating as their website
In late July I attempted to create a joint UBank Ultra transaction account. Instead of mailing me a debit card to use the account, they mailed me five.
— TWEETER VETERAN ZZAP (@zzap) July 30, 2014
UBank told me that only one of the five cards would work. But they refused to tell me which one. Instead, I they demanded that I would have to send them a Secure Mail within the UBank’s website to ask them for the number of the correct debit card. After waiting a fucking week for them to get back to me, their response was:
Go to ‘Managing’ -> ‘Accounts’ -> select your Ultra account and there you can see your correct card number
Is this secure or personal information? Is this highly restricted information? No. Why couldn’t they just tell me this immediately via Twitter? Because they’re useless. Not to mention that about a week after this I received five PIN numbers to go with my five debit cards.
3. Their staff are equally as useless as their website and their back-end processes
In November of 2013, I attempted to use their app to find the closest ATM to my house. Strangely, it told me there was one just around the corner on Union St, Brunswick. This is an exclusively residential area, but nonetheless I decided to go check it out to confirm there wasn’t an ATM there. There wasn’t. No problem! Most likely just an error with the location of the pin in the app. So I send UBank a message that let them know there was an error in the app, and that there is no ATM on Union St:
— TWEETER VETERAN ZZAP (@zzap) November 22, 2013
Their response? Well, instead of even looking at the image I had sent them to prove the error, they decided to reaffirm that there was an ATM on Union Rd.
@UBank But the pin on the map is at Union St, not Rd, and not at the location of Union House, right?
— TWEETER VETERAN ZZAP (@zzap) November 22, 2013
But the pin isn’t on Union Road. It’s on Union Street. The screenshot shows this. They said they’d “follow it up”. SIX MONTHS LATER UBank updates their iOS app. Guess what! The ATM location pin is still inaccurate. Six months later. So of course I let them know via Twitter:
— TWEETER VETERAN ZZAP (@zzap) March 17, 2014
At the time of writing this post, it is January 2015. Sure enough, the UBank iOS app that can be downloaded from the App Store still contains the inaccurate pin location for the ATM. There is no ATM on Union St. There are no ATMs on any Union St. It’s meant to be Union Rd, and Union Rd isn’t even in this suburb.
4. They misrepresent themselves to customers on Twitter
In May I was having some issues with the one-time multi-factor verification code UBank SMSes customers prior to allowing an outbound funds transfer. The problem was that the SMS would be received, but the UBank site was so unresponsive that the input box where you type in the code would never load — after about a minute the page would just time out and the box would not appear.
I tweeted in frustration about the issue and had a conversation with a follower while including @UBank in the tweets so they could understand the specifics of the error.
They never replied to this conversation. However, the next morning, another person on Twitter reported the same issue and UBank had the audacity to reply that there was nothing wrong, even though I had tweeted them about the issue 12 hours previous.
— TWEETER VETERAN ZZAP (@zzap) May 2, 2014
They never replied.
5. The final straw: UBank cost me over $100 of late fees
I pay for most of my purchases using an Amex Platinum Edge credit card or Citibank Rewards Platinum credit card (which I might blog about sometime in the future). Due to the payment style of credit cards, and to maximize my interest free period, I usually schedule a UBank BPAY payment to the respective credit card company on the day the credit card bill is due. I have using this use-case for about a year and have not had any problems with it at all.
In December, Amex told me via my credit card statement that payment was due on December 24. While the date lies close to Christmas, the 24th is not a public holiday in Australia nor is it a banking holiday. So I scheduled my BPAY payment to Amex for the correct amount for December 24. UBank accepted the scheduling and I figured that everything would be fine as it always had been.
I arrived home from a vacation on December 31 to find an array of missed calls from Amex, telling me that they have suspended my card due to non-payment. What?! I immediately logged into my UBank to check the status of the BPAY payment:
What does this error code mean? Not sure. So I get onto UBank’s live chat support. At first, the customer representative, Jonathan “Jono” Ioana, attempted to claim that it was because I had insufficient funds in my transaction account. After explaining to him that there actually were sufficient funds on my account and that I have done this type of scheduling for the past year with no issue, he decided that it may be due to some other, unknown problem.
Jono requested I send him a screenshot of the two lines on my statement (posted above) and he would liaise with the technology team and get back to me on Monday.
I am writing this post on Wednesday, and, of course, I have still heard nothing from him or anyone else at UBank, as promised. I am also over $100 out of pocket from UBank’s incompetence because I have to pay Amex a $50 late fee plus interest on my entire month’s worth of purchases due to UBank promising to send the payment on a specific date, then not sending it, then not telling me they didn’t transfer the funds as promised. And then, upon investigation, they have not gotten back to me by the time they promised they would.
Fuck that. Fuck UBank.
2015-01-10 update: “Jono” got back to me today (5 days late) with this response:
I have raised the issue with our UBank Technology Incidents team. The reference number is xxxxx.
I do apologise for the late response, this is because I haven’t received a response back from our Technology team on what caused the error. I will provide you with another update on 14/01/2015.
The ongoing saga just to get some accountability and answers at UBank on what you would think would be a simple question!
2015-01-17 update: Still have not heard anything back from Jono, despite him promising to write back three days ago. This is the second time he has not updated me as per the dates he himself suggested he would write back by.
After reading a tweet of someone I follow who is also experiencing UBank customer service issues, I added my a comment about my own problems:
“MF” ended up sending me a Secure Mail within the UBank interface:
I’m reaching out as per our Twitter conversation.
I can see from your last interaction with us that a future dated BPay payment you had setup with us did not process through. On that topic I have looked into this and spoken with our IT team who have advised me that this is a known matter. It is an intermittent incident and occurs sporadically.
Sincerely, I’m sorry if this matter has caused you any inconvenience; especially if you’re paying off a credit card.
If you wish to close your accounts with us, as per your tweets, you will need to phone us on 13-30-80.
Or alternatively I can arrange to have someone call you back, just respond to this message with your preferred contact number and time.
Please make sure you have your registered mobile phone handy, as part of the process to close your accounts is to send you a security SMS.
Matthew F – Advisor, Customer Support.
Any advice contained in this email has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on any advice in this email, we recommend that you consider whether it is appropriate for your circumstances. Interest rates are accurate at time of sending this email, for the current interest rates visit ubank.com.au.
As it seems you have gathered, yes, the BPAY payment was to a credit card, and because UBank failed to process the payment on the date that it said it would I now have about $80 of late fees and most likely an impacted credit rating.
Is UBank prepared to compensate for this, since issues with scheduled BPAY payments is a “known matter” to UBank yet fail to notify its customers of this issue?
Offering customers “features” that do not work, while simultaneously being aware that these features do not work in the way they are described, seems to be deliberately deceptive conduct to me.
2015-03-15 update: Received a response from a new rep on the 18th of January, as follows:
I apologize for the inconvenience that has been caused in regards to your USaver Ultra BPAY payments.
I have forwarded your Secure Mail message straight to our Product Request team, who will look into this for you. Once I receive a response, I will contact you directly through this channel of communication.
As you do want to be compensated, there is a possibility that they will ask for a proof of the charges you have received in regards to this delayed payment. You will have to provide us with a scanned copy of your Credit Card statement.
Rest assured, I will resolve this for you as soon as possible and let you know of the outcome, and what stages are required next.
Advisor, Customer Support
UBank – A good place for money
Any advice contained in this email has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on any advice in this email, we recommend that you consider whether it is appropriate for your circumstances. Interest rates are accurate at time of sending this email, for the current interest rates visit ubank.com.au
Waiting for her direct contact based on the response from the Product Request team, two months in…