Jac recently wrote to share a success story — he managed to get a bank to drop some fees simply by asking!

I’m currently on a six month exchange in France. I opened a new account with Westpac (Australia) before I left because they offered free international ATM withdrawals with a set of banks. Recently I went through my online statements adding up all the fees I’d been charged, and it came to ~$45 in three months. This included accountkeeping fees, ‘transaction’ fees since the beginning of November, and two ATM fees at the Norwegian branch of a bank that turned out to include free withdrawals only in France. I emailed them to get the student reduction they advertise, and got a couple of unhelpful replies telling me I had to go to a branch and show ID.

So today I rang them, hoping to at least save $5/month for the next three months. When I said I was calling from France, the woman I was talking to immediately offered to transfer me to a superior who could actually deal with the fees for me, to save me expensive chat time. I told the second woman that I wanted the student deal, and was surprised by all the new fees I had been charged, and that there were two unexpected ATM fees. She explained that a new fee had been introduced in November, but she would refund all that I had paid as I didn’t know about it, refunded the two ATM fees, refunded the account fees I had paid and adjusted my status to student so that I don’t have to pay them anymore.

I never really believed all the stories about people getting fees waived just by asking. I told myself that it probably only happened in America. Here is evidence that it works at least in Australia as well, and if Westpac is reading this, I am no longer planning to close my account as soon as I arrive home.

Remember, folks: It never hurts to ask. And it’s always possible that you can save a bundle. Later today I’ll share a final article about asking to save money.

This article is about Hints and Tips, Real-Life