Recently I had cause to send some money to a friend of mine in the UK. It was not a lot – $150 reimbursement for a few pairs of trousers he’d had made for me in Vietnam. I wanted to make it easy for him, since he’d done me a big favour, so I thought I’d transfer it directly into his bank account and make sure I covered all his costs.

Off I went to my bank – one of Australia’s biggest and oldest establishments – gave them the details and asked them to do the deed.

Teller: It will cost you $28

Me: Oh well, I guess I expected it to be overly expensive, go ahead then.

Teller: What do you mean?

Me: Well, $28 for you to punch in a few numbers and do a transfer directly from my account into another account seems pretty excessive, but I expect that’s how you make your money. Go ahead.

Teller: That’s what it costs – the bank doesn’t make anything out of it.

Me: Oh, right. You’re telling me that this $28 doesn’t go to the bank, but is the cost of digital bits flitting across the internet to the UK?

Teller: Do you want to see the manager?

Me [sigh]: No, I’ll pay it, just go ahead.

She punches away at the terminal keyboard.

Teller: There’s a $250 minimum.

Me [incredulous]: What?

Teller: I can’t send $150. It’s $250 minimum.

Me: What? You’re telling me that right now, at the end of the first decade of the 21st Century, you, a major bank, can’t send $150 from my account to my friend’s bank account in the UK?

Teller: I can, but there’s a $250 minimum.

Me: And it will cost me $28 on top of that?

Teller: Yes

Me: So, let me get this straight: to send my friend $150 using my own banking service – the bank where I have had an account for over 30 years – I actually have to fork out $278 or you can’t do it?

Teller: Do you want to see the manager?

Me: Yes, I want to see the manager.

The teller goes and talks to a bald headed guy in another office (I can see them through a big glass window). He looks at me and goes back to some paperwork. He sees me see him look at me. The teller returns.

Teller: He’ll be with you in five minutes.

Me: What? I’m supposed to wait five minutes so I can make a complaint? In five minutes, I’m pretty sure I’ll have worked out another way to do this and you’ll have lost a customer. Does that concern you at all?

Teller: [Shrugs]

I leave. I drive home. I find that my friend has a PayPal account. I facepalm myself for not having thought of that in the first place. I transfer the money. It costs me nothing.

Later that day, when I’m doing some net banking, I log out of my account and am farewelled with this message:

Astonished? I think I can say that they completely fulfilled their service promise!