From The Ground Up

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By June Ramli

I thought this build was going to be drama free but boy was I wrong! This week, I went to a bank branch in Sydney to see a home lending specialist. 
I went there to meet a banker because we wanted to inform him on a face to face basis that we had decided on going with another builder and had wanted to up the loan amount.
The appointment was supposed to be at 11 am and while we arrived there early the banker came in 13 minutes late to a meeting at his own office.
Before this meeting, our interaction with this banker had been solely based through telephone, SMS and also via video calls. The pandemic was to be blamed for this.
The first mistake he made was to not invite us inside a room for a confidential discussion. Other banks in Australia have special rooms when clients visit their branches but he sat us at a desk near the reception area which is an open space and those coming in and out of the bank could see us speaking. 
I had already told him why we wanted the face to face meeting but despite that, I had to explain to him all over again what we wanted and because we were there to switch builders, I even had the builder on the phone and on speaker.
There were some things said in that four-way conversation that he felt he was not privy to and asked us outright if we would want to walk away then and there.
I was both perplexed and shocked. Why would we want to walk away? And then he proceeded to call us ‘criminals’ and by then I had to terminate the call with the builder who was still on the line from Perth so that I could deal with the banker’s meltdown. 
He was also asking us to apologise and when I did not apologise to him he turned around to me and said “June?,” indicating that I should apologise too.
First and foremost, I am an educated girl and I know what apologies are for, it is to say sorry when one does something wrong, I just didn’t understand what we did wrong and why he was acting so rudely and screaming at the top of his voice. I could see other customers in the bank giving us the look and wondering what the commotion was all about. He was embarrassing us and was still seeking an apology from me?
He then abruptly left the meeting leaving us there hanging and wondering what we did wrong. 
After five minutes, we left the bank in shock. I was utterly upset because of how rudely he spoke to us and I came back home that day enraged and did the only thing I could do which was to close all my bank accounts with the bank as a show of discontent. By then the builder from Perth had rang me back and asked me “why did he (the banker) lose his marbles?”
I have since launched a formal complaint against this particular banker only because he had challenged me to do so during the face-to-face meeting.
A few hours after that incident, I received an email from the banker – with his boss cced in the conversation – informing us that he would no longer be helping us with our banking needs and sent us a list of other banks that we could work with.
Wow, such arrogance! While I was walking out the bank, I had a sudden flash back of the time when former Indian prime minister Mahatma Gandhi was thrown out of the train in South Africa as young Indian lawyer all because he was not white. I saw that scene in a movie and that particular scene played in my head as we walked out of the bank that day.
After two days, the branch manager calls and tells us that she will get another banker to replace him. We have no idea who the new replacement would be and guess what the manager goes on leave next week. No apology has been offered by the branch manager for the banker’s shoddy behaviour to date. So, why am I telling you this? It is because I am still mad at that banker and secondly to inform you that this journey of building a house here in Australia is not an easy one. I am so glad I started this column cause it has now become my place to rant all things home building. Till my next update. Be good.

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