How our research was conducted
SOUTH AFRICA’S BIG FOUR banks will criticise our research. They will question its methodology. They’ll challenge the assumptions. They’ll argue their average client doesn’t bank in the way our ill-informed fictional family does. Besides, who actually uses cheques nowadays? Some may even take out advertising campaigns to try to mitigate any damage our findings cause. We know that because it’s what they’ve done following our previous published research over the years.
Each one of us banks differently. We have different needs and requirements. How many of us actually know what we pay our bank for its services? Unless you pay a monthly flat fee to your bank, you probably don’t have an accurate idea of what the numerous charges on your bank statement represent.
Even if you do pay a flat fee, you have no idea what each transaction costs and whether you in fact get value for money. In one month you may use all the transactions in the bundle you pay for and the next you may use only half of them. You’ll only notice extra charges if you carry out transactions outside the regular ambit of what you do in a normal month.
You certainly don’t know what makes up any one of the myriad of charges and how the banks get to the figure levied on you.
In order to be consistent we’ve maintained the same methodol- ogy employed in our first research project in 2005. We want to ensure we’re able to provide comparable statistics. We relied on the professional ability of one of Johannesburg’s most respected audit and forensics firms to conduct the work, using only the information that we, as clients, can access. If they made an error, we suspect many of us would also have made at least the same mistake.
We stipulated that our family should operate: • Two current accounts, with one debit card on each account, each with an overdraft facility of R10 000, with an annual card protection fee. • Each account should also have
a chequebook. • Two garage cards, with
card protection fees. • Two credit cards, with
card protection fees. • One Internet banking
account. • Mortgage debt of
R500 000. • Two car loans of R150 000 each. All cards and accounts were to be held at the same bank.
We then assumed a series of transactions a typical family might carry out each month and instructed Deloitte to price the activities across the banks.