The customer disservice department

India's service sector has been the engine of growth for its economy over the past several years and now constitutes over 50% of the GDP. Strange then, that actual service to the customer is so poor, so mismanaged and so far from what one would expect.



I had an amazingly weird experience with American express last year. They called up and offered me a credit card, assuring me that I was pre-approved and that the card would be free for the first year. I agreed, only to find myself jumping through hoops to provide all sorts of documentation proving my income level. On what basis were they pre-approving me then? Anyway, finally got a letter saying the application was approved (!) etc. and several letters informing me of all the advantages accruing from an amex card. Strangely enough, the card never arrived at my home. I kept getting letters from the customer service department asking me to transfer my balance, informing me of offers but never the card. I also got several calls from the department which seemed a bit dismayed at my lack of spending but every time I told them the problem, they would reply, "Ma'am, for that you have to call another department. I can give you the number." Never did the caller from their end take the initiative to actually patch me through or report the issue to the relevant department. And finally, after a year, the bank has sent me a letter saying that they are going to cancel my card due to lack of activity and charge me some fees for not using it!!!



HSBC has been my bank of choice for years, since my first salary account was there. However last year we had such a poor experience that it has really sunk in my estimation. The bank had been calling my husband and me to go in for investment counseling. We agreed and went across to meet the customer service person who had made the calls, and she told us we had to come back with a complete picture of all our investments etc, and fixed an appointment for the following saturday. We diligently did the needful and took the time out from a hectic saturday for our appointment. First shock - no one was there at the relevant office. Finally someone turned up, only to reveal that the customer service rep who had fixed up an appointment with us was out of office for some training and would not be back that day. Her colleague who was also supposed to meet us (as she had informed us) was also not in office. We got through to him on his mobile to be told that he was about an hour away. Not only that but he accusingly said, "You never told us you had fixed the appointment!"

I now have a UTI priority banking account, thanks to my salary account being at UTI bank. I forgot the PIN number to my debit card sometime back so I emailed the customer service representative assigned to me, from my official email ID, asking for a new Pin. Only to be informed that I needed to make the request through a fax or a written lettter ent to the bank which did not accept an email request. Why in this day and age would that be the case, especially since I was writing from my official ID and the new Pin would in any case be delivered to my mailing address, rather than thru' email? Never got an answer to that one so I sent them a fax, desperate to get my hands on my own money. It has now been 8 + weeks. I have repeatedly called and emailed. I have got our finance department to call the bank. And it shows no signs of wanting to release its pincer grip on my money. forcing me to expedients like drawing out money through self checks every week. And all this, when I'm supposedly a priority customer. Wonder what they do to less privileged souls!

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