Learn the seven signs of a bad bank
If there is one thing that riles Australians more than the taxman, it's banks. Feisty forums, such as Whirlpool, Product Review and notgoodenough.org, document the resentment, with customers wasting no time making their feelings known.
Australia's banks, which research shows should ride out the end of the mining boom smoothly, offer renowned stability anchored in prudence, but they can be incredibly mean.
Here are seven tell-tale signs it is time for you to stop being a doormat and take your business elsewhere.
Predatory posture The most obvious reason to leave your bank is institutionalised rapacity - a refusal to cut you any slack when you stumble. Suppose that if you stray into the red for a day, you incur a $40 fee, as you well might. That seems a heavy price to pay for a slip-up, if your bank declines to negotiate, as it well might. Why stick with a bank that gouges you, whatever its chummy, emotionally intelligent slogan says?
Squelch tactics Should you try to complain, you can expect to be smoothly stonewalled, whatever medium you use.
If you phone, after taking pains to key in your account number correctly, you might enter a voice-prompt maze eventually leading to a remote-call-centre agent, who says something inane, such as, "How is your day so far?" then reads from a script.
Email dialogue can be equally frustrating - an apparent case of copy-and-paste. Through their roboticism, customer service agents employed by a drop-kick bank you should dump betray a wish to fob you off. Move on to the next stressed-out sap.
Internet angst Another potential deal-breaker is a bewilderingly cluttered online interface: a blizzard of tabs and personal loan advertisements that make internet banking a headache. Your online banking experience may be further complicated if you are forced to stuff around with a branded security gadget. Then, especially if you go abroad and your dongle malfunctions, you are in a right pickle.
In-your-face ads Your loyalty might also be taxed if your bank gives you the hard-sell treatment at a crucial place: the automated teller machine. As you key in your personal identification number - a uniquely personal fiscal rite - having a sales pitch pushed in your face seems plain rude. Worse, the distraction might lead to a miscue, fuelling annoyance and the suspicion that your bank has no shame.
ATM drought If one thing is more irksome than on-screen ATM advertising, it must be a lack of local ATMs belonging to your bank. The shortage can force you to use an ATM outside your network, which means niggling fees that stack up and erode your hard-earned cash.
Standing room only Given the profit your bank probably makes, you might think any physical branch you track down would be fitted with a ticketing system and chairs, but many banks still make you queue like a supermarket shopper or nightclub goer, which seems objectionably cheap.
Taunting tagline A final, conclusive sign that you have no future with your bank is that its slogan sounds unintentionally sarcastic. Read your bank's slogan. Does it seem sincere or like a joke at your expense?
If your bank treats you like a clown and you want to leave but are daunted by the thought of the administration, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) offers a three-step tutorial on changing tack.
Seek an account that boasts lower fees, easier access, better service or a higher interest rate, ASIC advises.
If you hold all your accounts with one bank, check whether you are getting its special package rate because, if you then switch one of your accounts, you might lose this rate, ASIC warns.
Still, ASIC insists that changing banks is easy. For an insight into which bank might be best for you, visit a website such as notgoodenough.org, which is brutally frank about organisational failings.