Westpac - they are a bit like Bonus Bonds really. Once in a lifetime you might get an unexpected windfall.

Another banking error by Westpac Bank has seen an Auckland man double his bank balance without doing anything.

After withdrawing his savings to pay a deposit on a house, he ended up rebanking it again when the deal fell through. Checking his balance a few days later he found it was $15,000 more than he should have had.

Unlike Leo Gao and Kara Hurring, who fled to China last year after Westpac mistakenly placed a $10 million overdraft into their back account, the unidentified Auckland man went to the bank and reported the incorrect balance. The manager confirmed that the deposit had been entered twice.

A Westpac spokesman said there had been a processing error at the bank’s Viaduct branch.

Dave Griffith’s Comment
In employment terms while publicly the bank refers to such incidents as ‘errors’ in reality behind the scenes it is a case of procedures not being followed.

Employee’s can find themselves valued employee’s one day and under threat of losing their job the next.

When employee’s are in breech of procedures it is possible that disciplinary action may result. Whether a breech is classified as misconduct or serious misconduct depends on the facts of the incident and the degree of negligence involved.

In the case of the $10 million that was paid incorrectly the staff member concerned was disciplined but not dismissed. She had made the error and her supervisor had not picked it up until it was too late. Her 30 years service would have been taken into account.

She would most likely have been given a final written warning for misconduct. This came back to haunt her a few months later when she made another mistake keying an incorrect amount.

Even though in this instance no money was lost by the bank the employee was dismissed. She was offered another role with the bank on the same pay but declined it.

If we are employees involved in banking or finance transactions we need to be careful that supervisors involved in checking our work and signing it off are actually doing it. There are relatively few mistakes made. Often supervisors get rushed and sign the check sheet without checking much.

In the event of a serious error it is most likely the person who made the initial error who will receive the worst sanction rather than the person monitoring their work.

Banks survive on a facade of safety and security. Any serious error made public damages the perception of trustworthyness and competency.

Banks do not discipline everyone who makes a mistake, but they do make an example of a few every now and then as a reminder to the other workers that they had better be on their toes or else it might happen to them.

The Army has done this well over the years. A few cautionary examples provided as an incentive for the rest to model the required behaviour on an ongoing basis.