BANK SHOCK: Alstonville resident John Reilly was shocked the Commonwealth Bank did not inform him his safe deposit parcel was damaged during the floods until he asked about its status.
BANK SHOCK: Alstonville resident John Reilly was shocked the Commonwealth Bank did not inform him his safe deposit parcel was damaged during the floods until he asked about its status. Alison Paterson

Customers in the deep end over flood-damaged deposit box

A CHANCE question by a customer about the status of his secure parcel stored at a Lismore bank after the floods has a Northern Rivers couple very worried about their precious documents.

John Reilly said he and his wife are upset and feeling concerned the Lismore branch of the Commonwealth Bank did not make contact them regarding their safe custody lodgement containing the deeds to their house, a will and other precious papers had been transferred after the floods.

The Alstonville pair have been banking with the same company for 60 years and said they are very disappointed the branch did not contact them until after Mr Reilly sent a letter dated April 27.

Mr Reilly said after five weeks he had not received a response, so sent another query on June 1 and the Commonwealth Bank sent a response date 26 June.

"The first we knew of it was when my wife Anne went into the bank to ask about the safe custody parcel," Mr Reilly said.

"Staff said it has been sent away for treatment and I understand it is in Melbourne being subject to gamma rays to kill biological contamination."

Mr Reilly said a further letter dated June 26 said he will be able to access the secure parcel on Monday July 31.

"I'm very concerned as we had to contact them and it took them weeks to get back to us," he said.

"Apparently we are one of 600 customer similarity affected and I think it's dreadful we had to chase them up.

He said he expects the bank to offer to pay for the procurement of replacement documents such as the house deeds is require.

Mr Reilly said Lismore is well-known as a flood-prone area and he could not believe they did not have a plan in place to safeguard valuable items.

"It seems unbelievable if they did not have a plan," he said.

A Commonwealth Bank* spokesperson said due to the extensive damage caused by the floods in Queensland and Northern NSW earlier this year, Commonwealth Bank's Lismore branch was closed for full refurbishment on 30 March 2017. 

"The Lismore branch safe facility was also flooded in the storm (and) Commonwealth Bank wrote to affected customers in June to notify them of the damage caused to their safe deposit boxes, and the required next steps. Contents will be available from 31 July," the spokesperson said.

"From 31 July, customers who had their safe deposit box contents insured will be able to start filing their insurance claims. Commonwealth Bank will also work with customers on a case-by-case basis through the process of recovering and replacing their safe deposit box belongings."

The spokesperson said, "we understand the devastating effect the tropical cyclone had on many communities in Queensland and Northern NSW. At the time, Commonwealth Bank activated emergency assistance to customers in the area which included fee waivers, loan restructuring, expediting insurance claims and providing emergency accommodation for CommInsure customers whose homes were damaged.

Commonwealth Bank also made a donation of $100,000 to the Red Cross disaster relief and recovery fund.

"Mr Reilly said he was was disappointed and outraged with this response.

"This is the first time I have ever heard of insurance," he said.

"This is quite extraordinary, if they had asked about it I would have thought I did not need it if i was lodging it with them. They say they will look after your package but that you had better insure it, this seems quite extraordinary."



WATCH AND ACT: Fires to merge in coming days

WATCH AND ACT: Fires to merge in coming days

Falling trees continue to be a hazard for firefighters

40C+ days: Region set to swelter through heatwave

premium_icon 40C+ days: Region set to swelter through heatwave

Expect very hot days and warm nights this week

‘Commitment to social change’: ADF pays out $2.8m in redress

premium_icon ‘Commitment to social change’: ADF pays out $2.8m in redress

Dying Northern Rivers man waiting for a decision on his application