Kiwibank using Aust-based call centre

Billed as a "little Kiwi-owned bank taking on the Aussie banks", Kiwibank is using an Australian-based call centre to deal with its thousands of KiwiSaver members.

The New Zealand-owned bank opted to use Mercer, one of six default scheme providers chosen by the Government, as it was "not in a position" to offer its own scheme when KiwiSaver was launched in 2007, spokesman Bruce Thompson said.

"Mercer is an international company that has operated in New Zealand for more than 40 years," he said.

However, a call by the Otago Daily Times to Kiwibank's toll-free Mercer KiwiSaver number was answered by a Mercer customer services representative in Melbourne, who asked how Dunedin was spelt so the requested investment statement could be sent.

"Kiwibank works hard to provide better banking, delivered in a straight-talking Kiwi way," the investment statement says.

Asked if having an Australian-based call centre was a good look for its customers who were urged through the bank's advertising campaign to "join the movement" away from Australian-owned banks, Mr Thompson declined to comment.

He confirmed the call centre was based in Melbourne and would "either provide answers to the customer's inquiries or redirect the call to the Auckland or Wellington offices".

Consumer New Zealand chief executive Sue Chetwin said Kiwibank might "want to have a little look" at its advertising campaigns, which encourages New Zealanders to "join the resistance" and join the bank.

"They are being hypocritical," she said.

A Mercer spokeswoman said almost 70,000 New Zealanders had enrolled in its KiwiSaver schemes.

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