CommonWealth Bank: Not So Helpful

I recently realised that I had been paying fees on my CommonWealth Bank Account that I shouldn’t have. When enquiring about why I hadn’t been informed about this, and left paying them, I was told that the information had been given to me through advertisements (Why not a personal message? I wonder…). Additionaly, my consent was needed for the fees to be waived, though it surfaced that my consent wasn’t so needed for the fees to be applied in the first place. In light of this extensive information and due process (not!), the bank refused to refund these undue fees.

After discussing with a friend who recently openned an account with the CommonWealth Bank, I realised that I was eligible to have bank fees waived on my account. So I wondered why they hadn’t been waived.


Going through your offers, I notice at 0 that account fees are waived for CompleteAccess accounts ‘with a minimum monthly deposit’. Going through my statements, you will notice that I have been depositing my salary (more than the threshold) in this account since October 2011 (I was a student before than, and still depositing more than the minimum).

I am therefore a bit annoyed that I have been paying this $6 fee for all that long, despite being well over the minimum monthly deposit for it to be waived.

Could this be corrected, and the overpaid fees refunded? Thanks in advance.


I got a somewhat unhelpful answer letting me know that my consent would have been needed to waive the fees. (They also reimbursed a token $18).

Hi O.,


O., as you can see at the web address below, this offer was automatically applied to all new accounts opened after the 1st of June 2010. Your account was opened in 2008.

We did need customers consent before changing the fee structure on existing accounts which is why your account did not have this offer available. Any customers who were interested in having this offer would have needed to contact us, just as you have now.


As a gesture of goodwill O. I have also refunded the last three account fees charged.


Kind regards,

At this stage, I couldn’t quite work out why, if my consent was needed, it had never been asked for. (The formatting is mine, as the online message editor is ery limited in the characters it accepts in replies, and mashes everything into a giant, unreadable line; I feel for the support team having to read them all day…).

Hi D.,

> We did need customers consent before changing the fee structure on existing accounts which is why your account did not have this offer available.

I did not receive any clear notice about this change in the fee structure, and was not made aware that I needed to give consent. It’s only seredipitously that I noticed this change. I guess you can understand that I am not entirely happy about this.

> I have also refunded the last three account fees charged.

I was hoping to get the entire overcharged fees since October 2011, which by my count amounts to 21 times 6, that is 126 dollars. An 18 dollars refund, though appreciated, feels a bit meagre as compared to what has been overcharged, considering I wasn’t properly informed to start with.

The reason why my consent was never asked for appears to be twofold. First, I should have known, and second, the fees were only applied to my account later.

Hi O.,


There was an extensive promotional campaign notifying customers of the Fee free for life campaign. This was advertised on TV, online, newspapers, radio and billboards. At the time your account would have been exempt from the monthly fee which may be why you did not notice this.

Unfortunately as no bank error has occurred I am unable to refund further fees charged. I am sorry I was unable to assist.


Kind regards,

Why wasn’t a personal message through the bank’s online system sent to me to let me know about the offer, rather than hoping for the best with unreliable channels? I don’t know.

Why was my consent not needed to apply the fees to my account? I am not sure.

I asked for more details on the former (I just realised about the latter right when writing this post).

Hi D.,

I do not have a television nor listen to free-to-air radio, use an ad blocker to remain sane online, and had at the time a 5 minutes comute from home to work, with no bilboards.

I still believe that this should have been the object of a personal message, like those I receive letting me know that I have been pre-approved for credit cards I don’t want.

I’m a bit upset to see that CBA makes it much easier for us to give it money and incur fees, rather than the other way round when such mistakes happen.

I’ll therefore start looking into moving all my accounts over to another banking institution.

This one is left unanswered, with no further explanation and, of course, no refund.

I’d expect from a decent bank to keep me informed of potential changes to the conditions of my accounts, rather than just pointless offers to get more fee-inducing services that I mostly don’t need.

I’d also expect that, with such a nice online banking system as CBA’s, they would actually use the internal messages to inform customers of these changes, rather that use unreliable broadcast channels and hope for the best.

Finally, I would expect that, if my consent is needed for fees to be waived, it should also be needed for fees to be added. I recall no communications about these fees being re-instated.

Anybody knows a good bank? I need to change my accounts over to something hopefully more honest, or at least practical…

Update: I eventually moved to WestPac. So long, CommBank…

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