Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Thursday, Feb 27, 2003
Money & Banking
Speedy growth, indifferent service
ICICI Bank is growing its retail accounts fast - and - as some of its advertisements proclaim, you can open an account with them, before your tea goes cold.
But there is a problem with speed the customer service thereafter seems to be struggling to cope with the increasing volume and leaves much to be desired. As one annoyed ICICI Bank customer mentioned "I have been banking with them for around two years. Initially they used to send us a monthly statement of account (the bank does not give a pass book). This was stopped sometime last year and we get only a quarterly statement. The bank informed us that if we wanted any statement in between the quarterly statements, we would have to pay them Rs 25 per statement. The alternative was to get a mini-statement from the automated teller machines (ATMs). But these gave only the last few balances without details of the transactions. Of course one could register for the free e-mail intimation of monthly statements. But there are glitches here too. This worked for a month and then stopped. We reminded them and they resumed it for another month, but have again forgotten the month thereafter!
"Bank customers may forgive a lukewarm tea but not a forgotten monthly statement."
Learning at customer expense
Here is another experience - this time with a State Bank of India branch. A customer who had just completed repaying a loan requested that the monthly transfers from the savings account be stopped.
One day, to his horror, he discovered that the balance in the savings bank account fell below the minimum required. Unexpected as this was, he went to check where the debit had come from.
He discovered that once again his account had been debited with the loan repayment amount even after his written request that the transfer be stopped. He approached the lady in charge.
With a smile, she said, "At the time you gave your request, I had not learnt how to operate the system to stop the transfer. Now I do." There was neither embarrassment nor apology for the inconvenience caused. Just smug satisfaction that the procedure had been mastered, even if it was at customer expense.
A CUSTOMER who has had an unpleasant experience with SBI with regard to the housing loan pre-payment finds that the bank simply refuses to acknowledge reality.
It continues to harp on the fact that there is no provision for pre-payment in the loan documents and that it was allowed only because of a representation made as a "special case".
The customer points out that he did not ask to be treated as a special case, but only wanted the bank to honour its commitment mentioned in the advertisements and reiterated by the branch manager.
A communication from the bank takes cover under the line that "the advertisement covers only prospective cases and clearly mentions that the branch manager should be contacted for further details as it is not possible to cover the entire scheme in a small advertisement". But the defence seems weak.
The customer provides the documents in support of his contention including advertisements released by SBI before he took up the loan, which clearly back his point.
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