Dear Mr. Tan,
I had a foreign currency account in NZ dollars with X Bank. On 16/04/10, I went to the X Bank to withdraw the foreign currency time deposit account. I was attended to by a Relationship Manager Ms Y. I had specifically asked her to quote how much would I get back in Sing dollars should I wish to withdraw the foreign currency account. She did some calculations and said the amount was $31,326.07. She did not at any time informed me that the amount she quoted was in NZ dollars. I assumed that the amount quoted was in Sing dollars. I did a quick mental calculation and I would gain $1,326.07 over my original investment of S$30,000. I then agreed to the withdrawal.
I was then asked to sign a foreign currency withdrawal form. Upon signing, I noticed that amount of $31,326.07 was not written on the form. She said the amount quoted was only an indicative price and therefore cannot be written down. I trusted her and X Bank wholeheartedly. That was my biggest mistake.
True enough, I was shocked to receive only $30,257.85 when I went back to X Bank to collect the cashier order on 22/04/10. I approached Ms Y for the shortfall of $1,068.22. She said that the amount she quoted on 16/04/10 was in NZ dollars and after conversion to Sing dollars, would be $30,257.85. I remembered vividly that she did not at any time on 16/04/10 informed me that the amount quoted was in NZ dollars. She insisted that she did. It was her words against my words. She then showed me a document with the word NZD written in blue beside the amount of $31,326.07. I told her that the word NZD was not written in my presence on 16/04/10. If it was written in my presence, I would have realised that the amount she quoted to me was in NZ dollars. My natural instinct would ask what would that amount be in Sing dollars.
I was naturally not happy and requested to see her Manager. The Manager listened to my explanation attentively. However, he insisted that Ms Y was absolutely correct to give the quote in NZ dollars. He further explained that it was the Bank's practice to quote their clients in the currency they invested in and not in Sing dollars. I re-emphasised to him that I specially told Ms Y that I wanted the money back in Sing dollars. I would have assumed that the amount she quoted was in Sing dollars. Moreover, she wrote the amount on a piece of paper as $31,326.07 without the NZD in front of the quoted amount. I therefore assumed that the amount quoted was in Sing dollars. On hind sight, I should have asked to make 100% sure. He could not help or advise me further. I left the bank with a heavy heart having lost $1,068.22.
I was inexperienced and had learnt a lesson, albeit any expensive one for a retired person . It would be my first and last time that I would do foreign currency investment. It was a case of poor communication or rather miscommunication. I requested the Bank Manager to advise all their Relationship Managers to inform their clients clearly on which currency the amount was quoted, especially to elderly clients who are not so financial savvy. The exchange rate would make a big difference.
I just want to share this unpleasant experience with your readers. Please remember to ask the Relationship Manager clearly on which currency the amount was quoted.
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