Ken Steeves decided to make his most recent mortgage payment in cash, hoping to speed up the transaction process.

But when he took the $3,200 to National Bank — the bank that holds his mortgage, but not his other accounts — the teller told him they couldn’t accept his money but could not give him a reason why.

“When I got there, the teller took the money to the back,” Steeves told CBC’s Daybreak Montreal. “They came back and they said they weren’t going to accept cash today.”

Steeves said he was told the bank had changed its policy and he would have to bring a cheque. Because he didn’t have his chequebook, he had to visit his home bank, the Bank of Montreal, and pay for a certified cheque.

“I just paid $7.50 to turn cash into a certified cheque that then the National Bank took,” said Steeves.

Mistake by bank?

Steeves said he had made a mortgage payment in cash to National Bank once before in 2013.

“They told me the policy had changed,” said Steeves. "But did they make a mistake? Was the management wrong but didn’t tell the tellers?"

A spokeswoman for National Bank said that, under most circumstances, cash payments should be accepted.

"We do accept cash deposits, as long as we meet the regulations and best practices in that regard," said Marie-Pierre Jodoin, a senior public affairs adviser for National Bank.  

"The only thing that I can tell you on this situation is that it is the result of an administrative mistake. We would like to get a chance to speak with the client as soon as possible."

Skeptical of response

When a CBC researcher contacted a bank branch inquiring as a customer, he was told he could not make a mortgage payment in cash.

Steeves said he is skeptical of the bank’s response regarding cash payments. 

“They were very adamant about not taking the cash. I don’t think it was administrative,” he said.

“I’d like to try again just to see what they will do.”

But Steeves said he likely will just pay by cheque from now on to avoid the hassle.

Service problems

Other banking clients are also reporting bad experiences with Canadian financial institutions.

John Lawford, the executive director of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre in Ottawa, says poor banking service is a huge problem.

"There are some complaints that reach the federal banking ombudsman, but there are many other complaints that people are putting up with or are just going to their bank and not going any further," said Lawford.

Lawford is urging Canadians to speak up about their banking experiences this week.

The federal government is seeking the public's comments for a consultation paper until Friday, Feb. 28, at 5 p.m.

Lawford said that input could lead to a new code of conduct for banks.