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Monthly fee on Credit Card is inequitable and regressive.
I believe it outrageous to introduce such a fee. Interest payments and your portion of the merchant fees should be more than sufficient for S&L to "remain financially sound".
I've returned (cancelled) mine today - hours after receiving the note dated 16 June.

This outcome of this review is very disappointing. Long gone are the says when Savings and Loans could claim to be any different from other financial institutions. Maybe its worked - we'll be consolidating our accounts to reduce fees ... with our bank.

I am particularly disturbed by the direct debit and credit card changes. For the last twenty years I've been a proud S&L member and happily referred friends looking for good service and low cost banking, but I might as well go to a bank and pay their charges now.
Frankly I'm unlikely to leave my business with S&L now that you're so concerned about community sponsership and greening initiatives that you've forgotten why your customers are here: we want low cost banking, not endless self-congratulation and high fees.

I seem to remember your plans to expand in other states. At the time I thought the reasons given were rather poor. Now i see these new charges coming along.
Perhaps your might cancel that costly interstate expansion and rewind those fees. In the context of the coming recession, its probably a good move to cancel that expansion anyway.
Finally, I believe we have NOT yet hit Peak Oil. Its just that demand for oil has taken off big time. When Peak Oil hits in 2009 (my estimate) things will get bad. Is S & L ready for very rough times?
Regards Michael Dwyer

I am very disappointed to hear that Savings & Loans will be charging $2 per Visa card each month. My husband and I each have a Visa debit card and W&CH Visa Card, so we will be slugged $8 per month. I have been a S&L member for as long as I can remember and have always recommended it to friends. I have been so happy with and loyal to S&L that I have only ever held 1 account with another financial institution my whole life. CommBank loaned us 95% to build a house as we only had a small deposit. But as soon as possible, we refinanced with S&L because I didn't like dealing with a bank. And this is how S&L treats its loyal customers!!! Not happy!!!

$8 for platinum membership? All inclusive for $5 a month with a major bank. This is $3 a month more. I have been with S&L for years, but the monthly Visa fees have made my mind up. You are no longer competitive with the banks.

I am really disappointed with S&L and the new monthly charge on Visa cards. I think it is totally wrong.

A friend of mine was with another credit union which went through a merger a while back and after that they increased a lot of their fees. I had feared the same would happen with S&L after the recent merger, and I was right.
It is always claimed that these mergers will bring greater efficiency, and be able to reduce costs through being a larger organisation, but it never happens like that.

I don't want to be part of the biggest credit union, I just want to be part of the best. I'm not sure S&L is the best anymore.
What happened to the old S&L that was just here for us South Australians and always put the customers first?

New fees, particularly the fee on Visa card are very unfair - when combined with your recent rate hike, it is all together too "bank-like." S&L is becoming just like a bank - and I joined 24 years ago because you were not like a bank. Also there is no consdieration to members who may become unemployed or disabled and have to exist on Centrelink payments - you must remedy the Member Plus category to fix this unjust situation, where those who have the least will have to pay more - a penalty or tax on being poor, whether it be temporary or permananent. Poor show, Greg... :(

From another blog entry "like all organisations we can get things wrong, and we sometimes do. Our advantage is that we’re small enough to 'fess up', fix the issue and ensure that it doesn’t happen again, all in a time frame that is much quicker than many of our larger competitors".

Looks like one of those cases ... eight entries in this blog already. Lets see how responsive you can be, or whether like a large organisation you'll just choose to weather the storm. So, what will it be? Reverse the fees decision, stop the expansion interstate ("if you're interstate (and)something goes wrong it’s handy to know there’s a branch you can visit" puhlease)?

From the 'you cannot be serious' page:
1) Charging to use our own ATMs 2) $2 per Visa - any number of banks offer several free cards per single Visa account. 3) "If you’re a Victorian member, you’ll automatically be MemberPlus for the first 12 months of your membership".

One account closed & Visa cancelled so far, working on the others.

I appreciate the concerns that have been raised so far about the changes to our transaction fees. There a few points I’d like to address which will hopefully help you understand why the changes were necessary.

You may have noticed that we’re currently offering members some of the best loan and deposit rates in the market. But we’re doing this against a background of reducing margins. In other words, what we are earning from deposits and loans has significantly reduced, while the price we are paying for money to fund some of our loans is rising. This has all come about due to the sub-prime fall-out in the US.

Over the last nine months we’ve had some difficult decisions to make about how we continue to build the reserves required to remain at a safe operating level, while keeping our loan rates competitive. We have raised our interest rates to a point, but generally speaking these rises have been minimal and we are still offering some of the best loan rates in Australia – particularly on personal loans.

The mid term outlook was for margins to continue to come under pressure. So we had to look at more sustainable sources of income to ensure it remained at a suitable level. Transaction fees are one aspect of our business that had experienced very few changes in the last 10 years, so it was an obvious choice to review them.

As I’ve said before, there are many good things to come out of the review. And I’ve highlighted a few of them in my original post on this subject.

In regards to the monthly card fee for Visa products, again, we’re simply passing on income pressures that we are facing. In this case, there was a change in the commission structure for our Visa Credit and Debit cards. This reduced our income from these products and we had to find ways to address this cut. At $2 a month, the card fee equates to $24 over 12 months. This compares very favourably against annual fees for many of the Visa products in the marketplace.

I’d like to pick up a point from Annie regarding our $8 platinum option. It’s true that some of the major banks offer a $5 all inclusive account, but the important difference is that our Platinum option costs you $8, but is spread across your membership, not just an account. In other words, you could transact across two or three accounts and you will still only pay $8. With some of our competitors, that could equate to $10 to $15 dollars ($5 per account).

Finally, I’d like to address the issue of growth. Yes, it’s true that we have expanded into Melbourne, and we are looking at a merger with Austral Credit Union. But this growth isn’t at the immediate cost of members. We’ve planned for the expansion and built up appropriate financial reserves to fund this growth over a number of years. It wasn’t an overnight decision. And we have to balance these expansion costs with our future. In the short term, these projects may cost money to establish, but long-term they will provide benefits that will be shared by every one of our members.

I can say with all honesty that this isn’t just a grab for money. We’re looking at a way to offer members the best deal, across all the products and services we offer. And I strongly believe that on balance, across all the products and services we offer, we remain one of the most affordable and competitive financial institutions in Australia.

I know that my words aren’t going to ease the pain for many of you. I understand that many families and individuals are going through hard times. Interest rates are rising and the costs of living, such as petrol prices, are increasing. We’re sympathetic to this, but as a business we’re not immune and are facing the same cost pressures. We don’t make these decisions on a whim, but they are carefully thought through. When we sit down and talk through these issues, we have to consider every one of our 170,000 plus members and find the best balance for our membership, not for an individual.

Thanks for responding Greg. As a person who felt like I "owned" S&L, I have always taken seriously all suggestions for helping to keep operating expenses down. I suggest greater education to help members do this, rather than raising charges and introducing new fees. Also, you have not addressed the issue of equity for S&L members who are pensioners, (other than the over 60s) unemployed or on disability benefits - please do so, as I am keen to hear your reasoning for penalising the most disadvantaged who have least financial power.

Well, after leaving Australian Central in 1996 because of there greed I chose to join S&L.
Australian Central Credit Union did similar things as it grew. Why as shareholders are we not included to input on fee structures.
Was happy with service and fees till now, it's going to cost you membership and seems like a softening of fee's exposure prior to the merger which no doubt will have to fund redundancies etc. Whats next?, overseas customer service centres??
Bankwest looks a promising option, maybe even the Police Credit Union. If im here for the next vote, It wont be going to any current board members.

I too am disappointed with the new fees, especially the visa card fee.

I've been with Savings and Loans for, I think well over twenty years and have in those years recommended S & L to many people as a really good, low fee, South Australian credit union. That has now changed.
With these fee changes I could no longer honestly recommend Savings and Loans.

Following Savings and Loans recent marketing of WCH Visa, my wife and I now find ourselves in the position of being expected to pay an additional $12 fee for visa cards every month.
I don't think so!

After 20 plus years it's time to look around at other financial institutions.

I bank with yourselves and with one of the "big four". Since retiring 13 years ago I have never had to pay any bank fees or charges. You have now changed that and I am very disappointed.

I understand the information about the cost of funds to S & L,and therefore some fee structure may well be reasonable. However I really do resent the use of the words obvious in their review as stated by Richard above. Through these fees I am now paying for the increased cost of money when I have not borrowed any from S&L! A very poor choice of words indeed.

When we went through the process of reviewing our transaction fee structure, it was a very consultative process. As I said before, we didn’t rush in and make these decisions on a whim. We went through an extensive member consultation process (using research groups). These groups represented a cross section of our members, as we wanted each ‘group’ to have a voice.

So, part of what you see today is a culmination of the member feedback we received through these research groups.

Low income earners also had a voice through these research groups. What we’ve tried to do is keep a basic structure where all members, including low income earners, can still transact for free. For example, Internet Banking, Phone Banking and BPAY are free services members can use to manage their money – many other financial institutions have a charge for these services. If you don’t have internet at home, it is available in our branches at no cost.

In terms of growth, one of the reasons for expanding interstate is to reduce our risks. We’re currently heavily reliant on the South Australian market in terms of our member base (and thus strength). If there were to be any sort of major economic downturn in the state (such as a loss of the mining industry, the closure of a major employer like Holden, etc) then any business that is involved solely in South Australia will be facing some very difficult conditions. By opening up new markets, we can diversify our member base and decrease our exposure to any significant downturns if they were to occur. Growth of our member base also helps us to remain strong and independent when there's interest from a lot of banks (both foreign and domestic) in buying out credit unions.

If you are concerned with your transaction usage, or want some guidance on how to transact for as little as possible, I really encourage you to call into a branch, or phone the member contact centre (13 11 82) and our staff will be able to look at your individual situation and give you advice on how you can transact with us for a little as possible.

Just a quick note to say that I’m trying to cover off as many issues in these posts as possible. It’s difficult to respond individually to each of you and I apologise in advance if it takes a day or two before I get a chance to jump on and respond.

I’d also like to add that I think it’s testament to our honesty and the respect we have for our members that we provide a voice through this blog. I can’t think of any other financial institutions who would do the same and publish concerns or complaints. We are a member focussed organisation that builds a unique relationship with our members, and I believe this blog is an example of that.

My issue is members who are pensioners - Greg you say, "Low income earners also had a voice through these research groups." Did they agree with your proposed imposts falling on pensioners and S&L members receiving Centrelink benefits such as sickness or disability - can you address the case of those people specifically? For example, my mother is a pensioner and her financial institution exempts her from all of the proposed fees that you have stated. Why is S&L not doing the same for this specific group of members?

Greg, regarding your point about the $8 Platinum option, do you honestly think there are a large number of people who have several accounts with competitors that charge $5 each?

As for the Visa product, $24 compares favourably against many Visa products in the marketplace UNTIL you factor in that most competitors also include a rewards program.

Take for example the NAB Visa Mini. Also $24 per annum BUT with the potential to get $120 back every year.

This is only one example and there are MANY other products which are far better value than the S&L Visa. I urge members to shop around and get rid of the S&L Visa.

Charges for direct debit... Enough said.

I will be cancelling my accounts with S&L and I urge other members to review how these new fees will affect them and take the time to investigate other financial institutions. A quick look at the InfoChoice website has revealed significantly better value products from the major banks for my banking needs.

It is a sad day when banks offer better value products than a credit union. At least the public knows that major banks are there to make a profit at the expense of their customers. I truly thought S&L was different.

"Our sole purpose is to help our members save and borrow money to get ahead in life" ...taken from the Savings and Loans website.

I am currently on a disability pension and also wish to find out more about pensioners. I have worked out that I am about $75 per annum worse off due to the credit card changes and me losing Members Plus status. Its a joke saying that this customer base has been consulted..

For me (I qualify for MemberPlus) I will have a minimum increase of $24 per year in fees (from $0 to $24). That's if I change my direct debits and stop using EFTPOS at all. If I don't do those things it will more likely be an increase of around $88 a year.

The fee re-structure, particularly the introduction of virtually unavoidable monthly fees for using a visa card, makes S&L just another financial institution like all the others. There's no longer anything to differentiate the comapny in my mind from all the other financial institutions and therefore no reason for S&L to receive my loyalty and my endless plugs to my friends and family (I know I am responsible for at least a dozen new S&L members).

I used to feel very proud of S&L and felt quite superior because I had the sense to join up while my friends slugged it out with the banks. Alas no more. The banks seem to be getting better with their fee options and S&L is getting worse (not only the fee restructure - there have been two interest rate rises that had nothing to do with official interest rates going up) and so they're meeting in the middle somewhere. Which means A LOT more competition for S&L and a A LOT less of that brand loyalty they've had to date. At least from me.

I’m not going to debate the merits of every bank or credit union's individual products, but I honestly do believe that across the board, we’re one of Australia’s most affordable financial institutions.

Regarding the comments about expanding outside of our traditional industries or geographical locations, credit unions are changing and in many cases these ‘closed bond’ or industry-based institutions just aren’t big enough to survive as increased overheads and legislative requirements take their toll. Credit unions right around Australia are coming to terms with this and there’s a lot of discussion going on around mergers between credit unions with different backgrounds.

Savings & Loans began as the credit union of the South Australian Public Service Association. If we had remained an industry-specific credit union and never expanded outside of this group, many of our longest-serving and happiest members would not have had the opportunity to be part of Savings & Loans.

As I said, the focus groups and feedback sessions we ran when designing the new fee structure included representatives from all segments of our membership. I acknowledge that there are some people on pensions who may pay more under the new fee structure or drop from MemberPlus to Member, and I urge anyone affected by this to call us and discuss cost-effective ways of accessing their accounts.

It's obviously not possible to get feedback from every member on every decision we make as a credit union. We do make our decisions with all members' interests and sometimes they're difficult decisions to make.

Bernadette, if you think you’ll be paying up to $88 more every year because of the changes, it may be in your interest to take out our Platinum option. This would allow you unlimited use of EFTPOS, Reditellers and direct debits for $8 each month.

I do appreciate this opportunity to get first-hand feedback from our members, but it’s not really possible for me to discuss what’s best for every individual on this blog. If you do want some help to minimise fees, visit a branch or call 13 11 82.

S & L has now joined the ranks of being a "bank" not an individual organisation that we could use to get away from the banks. I have so far searched several banking websites and find that I can have unlimted transactions for a fee less than the $8.00 per month Platinum offer you propose. Your wording in your brochures that the Platinum option offers "free and unlimited transactions" is surely a mis-use of the word "free" - you're charging $8.00 per month for this privilege remember !!! Then there are the charges for visa cards and direct debits. Your charge for visa cards amounts (for us)to $96pa - a jump from $0 to $96. Now does that really sounds like you are looking after your members? We will definitely continue searching other institutions' products/services.

Greg, how good is your maths. When recommending Bernadette take up the Platinum Option for $8.00 per month, the annual total being $96.00 instead of $88.00 estimated and presuming that none of the $88.00 is Visa Card charges which aren't included in the Platinum Option.
As long term loyal members of S&L we will be looking for any other competitive BANK options as this is all that the credit union now is. As we feel this is only the beginning, for as more members leave for greener pastures the fees will have to continue to increase and services will decrease.

I've been a member since I was 17 mainly due to the low (no) fees and charges in most of their accounts, I have recommended to family and friends, but now am quite disappointed at this move. As are some of your staff after discussing with them today and recommended I blog.

For a couple both with visa cards it is really a $4 per month charge for these cards as in most institutions you can have multiple cards off one account (not possible at S&L with the membership structure). Anyway I'm doing my research and there are definately cards out there without annual fees see (Commonwealth Bank and St George do them).

Anyway, disappointed that I will need to take some (and most) of my financial transactions elsewhere . I'd ask the management committee to reconsider.

I do have some sympathy for S&L management - riding on the good times for many years mistakes and bad decisions can be hidden in the large profits- but those days are over and this must have been a very hard decision, to pass on the costs of your expansion, growth and adventures interstate to existing members.

I think Greg's comment says it all "We are sympathetic to this, but as a business..." S&L is a business, I am a customer, my shareholding means nothing more that I get a vote at the AGM.

I am neither idealistic nor bitter just pragmatic enough to say I'll look for the best deal for myself and leave the ideal of a "mutual" being something better than that behind.

I only had the visa card because my purchases were supporting the WCH.
I cancelled my card today - and made a $20 direct donation to the hospital - at least that way I can claim it on my tax return.

Me again - just found this quote from greg in the other section about the merger"

"This is what being a mutual organisation is all about – members having a direct say in how their credit union is run."

HaHaHa - the only power we have is to close our accounts, consumer power not member power at all.

Its probably technically true - but a little misleading that you are still advertising your credit cards as having no annual fees!


I have been a member of Savings and Loans for a long time. I persuaded my partner to join. I am now very disapointed that you now think it necessary to charge for a debit Visa card. For years S&L actively encouraged the use of the debit Visa and then when everyone is using them, wham, fees are slapped on. We will be cancelling our Visa cards. We will now use the Westpac no fee (for pensioners) debit mastercard.

It is particularly the low income people who will be hit by your actions. My partner is over 60 and gets memberplus status. I don't because I have to have 3 points. The system seems to have been devised to make sure that low income earners don't qualify.

Bye, bye

You were competitive up until now

Giving praise where it's due Greg - I think it is really positive and commendable that you offer this opportunity for debate and discussion.
Obviously you have had to make a tough decision on fees and there will be some winners and losers and I think it is a strength of Savings and Loans that you are prepared to face and defend those who disagree with your decision. Obviously most of us see only how it effects us directly rather than how it effects the whole of the credit union.
I am a loser in this and will close my Credit Card account, but I will stay a member because value being a member of savings & loans and because I want to make my protest when the current board members are up for re-election.

Greg, you claim that S&L is still "Australia’s most affordable financial institutions" but you're not willing to back that claim with any real proof. It sounds to me like you're not willing to compare the "merits" of S&L products against major competitors because you know how poor the S&L products have become, especially the Savings and Visa products.

I still cannot understand how these member research groups came to the conclusion that these fee restructures were justified.

Do they know something that you're not sharing with us? After tax profits and cash reserves in 2007 were at record highs. Unless that has dropped dramatically for the 2007/2008 FY, I cannot see this as anything more than a grab for more cash fueled by unrealistic (and unwarranted) growth targets.

Like most members, I would like to hear a lot more about these "increased overheads and legislative requirements". Show us the figures.

Bernadette, like others have suggested, take a look at day-to-day transaction products from the major banks. Most of them charge around $4-$5 per month and you will generally get unlimited ATM, EFTPOS, direct debit and internet banking with a Visa Debit or Maestro EFTPOS card. There are even a few out there with no month-to-month fees if you fit within a certain criteria (ie. min deposit, min balance, etc).

Benjamin, again check out the major banks. I know a lot of them offer fee free accounts for pensioners with free electronic banking (ATM, EFTPOS, Internet banking).

While S&L members are angry at these changes, I think the majority will still remain customers as they cannot be bothered to change accounts and/or do not know how to find a better product. In saying that, I would like to urge ALL members to review their current situation, COMPARE similar products from competitors (talk to the banks *sigh*) and SWITCH.

This will hopefully send a clear message to the S&L board who seem to have forgotten that the reason S&L exists is to benefit members.

Hi Greg
Firstly I would like to thank you for the time you have taken to read everyone's comments and reply to them. It must not be easy to be the bearer of bad news.

I wont add my situation to the mix, it's the same as has been mentioned over and over again above. But I would like to add that I believe for most people it isn't the $2 a month to have a visa card etc, but the principle of the matter, that has made people upset.

We have trusted S&L with our money and our banking for years and now the organisation wants to seemingly go against everything they have promised over the years ie being different to banks. I want to bank with someone who treats me with respect and doesnt charge me to access my own money.

Instead of looking into ways to increase memebership and increasing revenue that way, you have taken a shortcut to this goal. Shortcuts cause mistakes and I think this one will be a huge one for S&L. I am another member who will be leaving shortly.

I can understand that you need to raise money, my super managed to lose 10% this year, and I can only imagine that's a reflection of the overall market. But against a backdrop of what must have been an expensive rebranding, and expensive expansion efforts I tend to feel alienated as a member.

I too have 2 Visa Debit and 2 Visa Credit card. My home loan is direct debit once a fortnight. So I have no choice but to cough up the $8 a month? I appreciate why you have to do this, but I'm closing all my accounts and moving to a different credit union, that gives free visa debit, and direct debit, with no monthly fees. I don't know how they can be free, but as long as they can they deserve my business.

I have been a member for over 25 years and have recommended S & L to many other people as being the best place to 'bank' with. However, I am staggered to learn of the new fees coming into effect soon - this will lose the credit union many, many, customers.
In particular, I am disgusted at the way the fee structure disavantages children. From the moment I thought my children were capable of handling a 'bank' account, I proudly joined them up as members of S & L, and advised them that the S & L were the best because they did not charge fees for day-to-day banking. Now they are going to be charged $3 for every withdrawal at a S & L branch or agency. I do not like the idea of my 13 year old daughter standing at an ATM so have always encouraged her to use a branch on the infrequent times she needs to withdraw money. Maybe there should be a member category for children under 18 rather than lumping them into the Member 23 category?
As an aside, the biggest gripe I have had with S & L over the years is their range of products for children - probably not a great money-spinner for the credit union, but remember the children of today will be your fee-paying members of the future, if they don't shop elsewhere!

I am positive about the new fees and the move to grow and to be more like a bank.
I think it is the only responsible thing to do in the current economic climate.

I sincerely believe that the next step must be to demutualise and unlock the "hidden" value of our shareholding in Savings & Loans through sharing in the growth by increased share price and an annual dividend.

If this could be achieved then I think that all the arguments for the new fees etc could be justified.

I appreciate your openess and willingness to discuss this matter. I have been with Savings & Loans for about 8 years now, and while I feel a certain amount of loyalty towards the company, I just can't understand these new fees.

I just returned from a another credit union (CPS), where I've opened an account and will begin migrating my business there over the next few weeks. I agree with a previous poster, I doubt many people will do the same, but I'm a fan of fee free banking, and there are still many credit unions that offer this service to all their members. If you take a look at their offerings versus the new Savings & Loans ones. Well there is no comparison really, so I'm not sure how you can claim to still be competive in this area. No doubt in terms of loans, insurance, etc, you still are, but not in everyday savings.

There’s certainly been a lot of discussion about the changes to our fees and it’s good to be able to get this sort of first-hand interaction with our members. It would take a long time to respond to every individual question, but I will respond to what seem to be the general concerns here.

I strongly believe that across the board Savings & Loans is one of Australia’s most affordable financial institutions. If you were to have four common banking services (a Visa Debit transaction account, a savings account or fixed deposit, a credit card and a personal loan) then with Savings & Loans you could select the Platinum option and pay a maximum of $8 in monthly fees. This would give you unlimited access to EFTPOS, 1,250 ATMs, Visa purchases and Internet Banking across all of your accounts. I don’t think there are many other institutions that could match this offering and that's certainly what our research indicated.

We do still have a basic level of access for members that won’t cost them any fees. For example, children qualify for Member23 status so they don’t pay any monthly fees and receive a $6 allowance each month to be used for transactions. This means that if they do want to withdraw money from their account they can either use a Rediteller ATM up to six times a month, or transact over the counter twice.

The final breakdown of expenses for the 2007/08 financial year obviously hasn’t been finalised yet, but they’ll be clearly stated in our Annual Report, which will be available in October. Our last three years of reports are available at savingsloans.com.au/annualreport and I encourage you to look over them. If you have any questions about the reports or specifics, our Annual General Meeting gives all members the opportunity to speak to the Board and our entire Executive management team.

The growth we’re embarking on is designed to secure Savings & Loans’ future for years to come. These changes will help make us more efficient in the longer term so we can continue passing benefits and value to our members. A 100% increase in members does not lead to a 100% increase in expenses, and actually decreases costs on an expense-to-member basis.

The launch of our new logo and branding was designed to attract more members, which again will ultimately lead to use lowering relative expenses.

As well as the rising cost of funds, Savings & Loans is facing the same general increases as every part of the economy. Stationery, computing services, wages, mailing costs, etc are rising and while we do try to minimise the impact of this on members, at some point we do need to cover these expenses.

Regarding the current fees listed on our website, we have an obligation to ensure the fees listed on there are current at any particular time. We’ve scheduled a changeover of the pages on the website when the new fees take effect. I can assure you that anyone taking out a new product or making enquiries is provided with information on the pending changes to our fees.

I’m sorry that a number of people have said they’ll be leaving Savings & Loans because of the changes to our fees. It’s obviously not practical to consult every member about every decision we make. We used focus groups to test reactions to a variety of proposed fee models and took this feedback on board when we made our final decisions.

I’ve had feedback direct from our members and through our staff of people threatening to leave Savings & Loans because of the fee changes and coming back because they couldn’t find a better deal. I’m not saying this is the case for everyone, but it does show how competitive we are.

I think the sort of discussion we’ve had on this blog says a lot about the way Savings & Loans operates and the transparent way we deal with our members. I don’t think there are many organisations that would publicly post this sort of discussion, especially when some people are directly promoting our competitors.

Again, it’s good to get an opportunity to get this kind of feedback directly from our members.

"...because they couldn't find a better deal."
I guess they just didn't look very hard:

How is a free Visa Debit Card, no monthly fees, and a base $8 allowance for all other transactions not a better deal? The $8 you can spend on direct debit ($0.50), eftpos ($0.60), atm ($1 - $2.50 depending on whether it's theirs or not), visa debit ($0.40), etc.

I agree 100% that no other organisation would be having this kind of discussion with it's members, which is commendable, but at the end of the day I don't think we'd pay $16 a month as a couple for that privilidge.

I'm not a member of Savings and Loans - I just got to this blog while looking for a new credit card offer. Yours stacks up reasonably well I think - this is probably just a "change management" issue for you.
As far as I am concerned in the age we live in now it is unreasonable to expect long term loyalty from customers, companies or employers - you need to look out for yourself and choose the best offer available for you at the time.
You will lose some members by changing the fees - but you will get more new ones in Melbourne through your other activities - life goes on.
I used to be with CPS which came from the Commonwealth Public Service - but it's past is really meaningless now. Along with Unions I think closed bond organisations are long past their use by date.
I won't be taking your card right now because I found a better one - but I like your organisation and you will be on my shopping list next time I am looking.

Thanks for having this blog - it's a great idea and a credit to your organisation.

You must be dissappointed with your performance. You have provoked a wave of critism about the $2 fee per month for your customers holding a visa card. I am amazed. S&L was my financial institute of choice based on your past slogans of 'no fees', low fees etc. look what you've done....listen to the voice of your customer. I too like many others have been a loyal customer, for many years, turning away offers from others and too recommending S&L to many. We have worked together to make this institute what it is today, and you have the gaul to add to my woes.. petrol, mortgage rates, food motor regos are all rising dramatically costing Mr Joe Blo in his hip pocket, The fat cats are creaming off the top, and it is in this climate that you have deemed it necessary to put your customers into 'classifications' and now add this outrages additional fee to both me and my wife. As I say, you must be dissappointed with your performance, how long have you been doing this job? Looks like you've lost touch and ought to try again somewhere else.

I would also like to know how I can view your transparent system and see my classification that you have deemed, without having to ask your team. Is this possible?

Also some competitors are broadcasting where their nearest ATM is via SMS. Does S&L have any similar tools, so I can find the nearest ATM and avoid some of the other charges.

NOT HAPPY, like sooooo many others
Your sincerely faithful customers [one of those who pay your profits] Bernie & Sue

We've been with savings and loans for just over a year, having been recommended by several people. We have 3 accounts, 4 cards, a mortgage, and all our insurances and direct debits through S&L. After 2 -3 rate rises in 2 months above other rates we were already considering moving our mortgage. We held off for a few weeks even though we found better rates elsewhere. The recent charges are obviously not the only disappointment but is the object that pushed us over the edge. Unfortunately, as many people have already stated on this blog, S&L is no longer competitive. And although we expected that they would keep up with inflation we didn't think they would become less competitive than other institutions.
As a low income family, we have to consider who would serve us best financially, because like everyone else these days, we are already being hit hard by everything else. Sorry to say we have been left with no choice but to move all our business.
How can you justify giving a choice of either paying $8 for platinum, when I used to pay $0 -$2 for the odd transaction, and then tell me I have to pay that, or cancel my direct debits to avoid paying the new fee. In addition We'll have to pay $8/mth for our cards.Toatalling $16 more than we used to pay per month. That's not a choice.
Truly disappointed.

thanks greg for makingn the decision for me. If you want to charge a fee on visa cards you need to provide something back to the member. I have been a member for 26 continous years and my three children are now members also. The credit union is not rewarding me for being loyal and having ins, house loans, credit and debit cards and accounts with them. I am in the process of closing my visa accounts and opening them with another institution that charges the same $24 fee a year but I get rewards. I will now be reviewing all banking with you. As I am no longer anything more than a bank customer of the credit union I might as well look for better benefits for myself and family. This would have to be the worse decision the board and CEO have made. You should never take your members for granted and treat them with such disdain and contempt.

I was unaware of the blog facility on this web site when we were advised by letter of the dramatic increase in fees. I wrote to S&L by email advising of my concerns hoping that I would be contacted with possible methods of reducing the impact in operating our account. The absence of any reply must indicate that there will be no review for pensioners like us.With our fees to be increased from nil to over $100 dollars per year we will be reluctantly leaving S&L. This is so disappointing.

There’s a few points I’d like to pick up on from recent posts.

Firstly, for Bernie and anyone else who is interested, you can jump on to the transaction fee calculator http://www.savingsloans.com.au/calculator/TransactionFees.aspx?p=942
to work out which category you belong to. Tick the products or services you have with Savings & Loans, and once you have done this, scroll down and it will show which category you are in, and the fees for each transaction.

It’s hard to comment on individual circumstances without looking at what products each of you has with us, but I really urge you to speak to one of our staff members to get clarification on your own situation. I’m certain there are ways you could significantly reduce your transaction fees by modifying your transaction habits. There’s a couple of other points I’d like to highlight:

Visa card fee – this $2 fee only applies to Visa cards. In other words, either a Savings & Loans Visa Credit or Visa Debit card. If you have numerous credit or Visa debit cards with us, perhaps there is a way you could consolidate a number of them to reduce the fees you will pay. A Visa Credit card can be structured to access both the credit account (the account with up to 62 days interest free) and an ‘at call’ transaction account. Likewise, a Visa Debit card can also access more than one transaction account. Many of our members find that they only need one Visa card. Alternatively, you could look at taking our Platinum option which means you won’t have to pay the $2 fee on any of your Visa cards.

Platinum category – If you qualify for MemberPlus or Member23 and take this option and pay the $8 monthly fee, you do not pay the monthly Visa card fee. You also pay nothing for transactions at a branch or agency, transactions at the 1250 Reditellers nationally (including S&L ATMs), EFTPOS transactions, Visa card ‘credit’ purchases, direct debits, BPAY, Internet Banking, Phone Banking and SMS Banking. This category is very competitive in the marketplace, and as I’ve said before, it applies across your membership, not just one account. Banks who offer similar ‘all you can transact’ options charge a monthly fee per account so if a customer wanted, for example, to split their pay to different accounts (have some of their pay go to a “weekly expenses” account, some to a “regular bills” account) then they will pay the monthly fee for each account they open with that bank.

MemberPlus – If Platinum isn’t for you, remember that you are under no obligation to take this, it’s optional. Those who qualify can stay on MemberPlus and you receive a $6 monthly allowance, with free transactions at any S&L branch or agency, transactions at the 1250 Reditellers nationally (including S&L ATMs), Visa card ‘credit’ purchases, BPAY, Internet Banking or Phone Banking . So with some smart transacting, you could still pay very low fees. You do have to pay the Visa card fee with this option and it is not included in the $6 monthly allowance – so you could be paying as little as $2 a month, depending on how many EFTPOS and direct debit transactions you perform.

Joint accounts –If you have a joint account, you may find that this could reduce the amount of fees you pay. Again, ask one of our staff to get all the details on how this works.

What I’m saying is there are ways and means of reducing your transaction fees with this new structure. There are options for every circumstance. But what you will need to do is have a look at your transaction habits, and chat to our staff about how you can get the most out of the fee category you belong to.

As I’ve said in my previous posts, I’m not going to argue the merits of every offering out there. There are advantages to our transaction fee structure, but other financial institutions may have an offering that better suits your transaction habits. The Community CPS structure highlighted by Russell may suit some of you, but it also has its drawbacks - $2 for Rediteller transactions (ours are $1 for Member and Member23 and free for MemberPlus), and 40 cents per Visa debit transaction (ours are free but you pay a $2 monthly fee). Community CPS also charges for other transaction types that are free at Savings & Loans. For example, BPAY is 20 cents per transaction at Community CPS. It doesn’t sound like much but if you take note of all the bills you pay every month or quarter it adds up quickly - plus add the higher fees for Rediteller transactions and Visa debit transactions and the situation may well look less positive. Now i am not bagging Community CPS, but as Russell brought it up I am just highlighting that each financial institution structures its fees in a different way, and people need to choose what is best for them. But like health funds and insurance you need to look at the full picture to make a decision.

We make no apologies for the fact that these changes have been designed to reward members who have a range of products and services with us. What we’ve put on the table is an offering that all members can benefit from, but you may need to review your transaction habits. Ask yourself some questions – do I need both a Visa Credit card and a Visa Debit card? As discussed above, a Visa Credit card can be structured to access both your interest free days account and an At Call account. Do I use Visa a lot to make purchases, or buy over the phone or online (in other words, is it worth paying the $2 for the freedom of access)? Can I reduce my direct debits and use BPAY instead? How can I utilise Internet Banking and Phone Banking more? We still offer you the opportunity to bank with us for no or very little fees, you may just have to modify the way you transact. Our staff are more than happy to help you with this.

In regards to an SMS service to find your nearest ATM, we do offer a SMS Banking service but it doesn’t have the functionality to give you the location of you nearest ATM (although we hope to introduce this at some point). Our current SMS banking services enables you to check account balances or recent transactions or alerts you when there is a low balance in the account or it is overdrawn. This is a great way to avoid overdrawn or dishonour fees and is free for Platinum members (20c a text for other members).

You can find your closest Savings & Loans or Rediteller ATM here http://www.savingsloans.com.au/Rediteller/SearchRediteller.aspx?p=309

One more thing I’d like to add is that we take our membership structure very seriously and endeavour to be as open and transparent as possible with our members. What other financial institution would put their complaints out in the open and encourage debate about things so you not only have a voice, but your thoughts are seen by others, as well as allowing discussion (and links) to competitors products on their website. I think it says a lot about the type of transparent and honest organisation we strive to be.

After referring literally dozens of family and friends to S & L I now feel responsible for them having to pay fees! I always raved about the no or very low fees and the quality of staff service.
Now the fees have started...how long before you start cutting back on staff therefore, making more profit?
I waited in line at the Modbury store last Friday for almost 22 minutes. Do you think that kind of wait is fair when you are hiking up the fees?

Not happy at all! Whatever happened to the S & L we all knew and loved! I know for a fact the staff are not overly happy with the changes and some of them can't even explain it! If they are having trouble how do you think we the customer are going to?
PLEASE bring back the old easy way!

For approximately the past five years I have been a member of Savings and Loans Credit Union.
I have been extremely happy with the level of service and features that have been offered through my account/membership.
The new fee structure at Savings & Loans goes totally against the reason I joined up in the first place!Put simply, I joined Savings & Loans credit Union as it provided the opportunity to operate my everyday banking with virtually NO FEES!
I feel that I now must look else where to find what Savings & Loans previously offered.
Greg I hope that you can see that the decision to make these new changes has been an extremely bad one from a loyal members point-a-view.

Greg, your comments are appreciated and I do take your point about openness of the blog. CPS is another credit union that's gone to the dogs, at 40 cents per Visa transaction it is outrageous. But back to S&L. To date, you still have not addressed my issue of social justice/equity for pensioner members aged under 60 years. Did the Board of S&L just "forget" this category of member, or is their intention that such members (eg disability pensioners or unemployed) deserve to be further disadvantaged economically by higher fees and charges, due to their inability to purchase many "products"?

Greg - you say "We make no apologies for the fact that these changes have been designed to reward members who have a range of products and services with us".

I believe that S&L have a program to reward premium high net worth members (a colleague of mine is in this program). Are you being open and transparent about that - I can't find it on your website and I wonder if there are any special deals these people get that you are not telling us about.

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