ICICI Bank is no better or worse when compared to any other Bank. But a 15+ year relationship and some element of loyalty made one continue with them.

The other account I had with Axis Bank – their supposed salary account, has now charged a lien of 900 bucks and want me to come in person to close etc, but this is about ICICI.

I have long been aware that it is always a numbers game, where if you do not watch your funds being deposited carefully, there is always another day tagged in. Given that you will forget it, but when you multiply this with lacs of customers, imagine the free fund floating around. (This by the way is true for all Banks). My three episodes during February 2016.

EPISODE 1

My primary account was opened in Nariman Point inspite of working in BKC with the assurance, with electronic it is all the same etc. Most times like everybody it did not make a difference to me, though once in a while like everybody else I would go thru the ranting, shouting and they would get somebody to call ‘Yes Sir, No Sir, Three Bags full sir’ whilst mentally writing me off as another statistic.

In the past two months, a respectably high value cheque (at least for me) was deposited the first time in Kalbadevi at around 1-2 pm. I received an sms the same night or early morning about the amount being credited. I was totally thrilled.

The next month ie February a similar cheque was deposited in Malad at 2.30 pm on Friday 12th February. Saturday was a non working day, and Sunday the banks are closed, so one would expect it to be cleared by Monday evening. Nope. It cleared on Tuesday evening 16th february and no sms received till date.

My debate with the ‘Quality Head/Department’ went all over the place, with them obviously trying to CYA, blaming everyone all over the place, without answering my basic questions:

  • In this electronic system and digital era where you claim to be leaders, why should there be such a difference within the same city.
  • How does the clearing actually take place these days?
  • If my account were in Andheri and cheque is deposited in Malad would it be faster?

Finally, they got the Malad branch manager (he claimed to be so) to call and explain. So, the conversation after ‘Yes Sir, No Sir…….’

  • Sir, You deposited after 2 pm. And the next two days were holidays, Monday there is always a backlog, so it became tuesday.
    • ME: I am aware of the time, holidays. My question is how does it matter to me as a customer, if you have a back log. Put more staff, use the famous technology you’re claiming. And even on Monday till evening, your staff had no clue where the funds were, by evening technically the cheque should have been logged in, so under clearing would have reflected.
  • Sir the system may have had a glitch.

So I asked him to explain in his words, as to how it works:-

Sir, when you deposit on Friday after 2.30 pm the morning clearing is gone (my Q of how many carriage happen during the day, given you operate the suburb banks from 8.30-4.30 or whatever and some of them for 12 hours also, went unanswered). So it goes the next day, but it was saturday and then sunday so it must have gone on Monday and since Monday is heavy rush, backlog must be there and our packets might have reached late, so evening or next day it must have been punched in taken and you got it on Tuesday

I said Fair enough, then how did Kalbadevi to Nariman point manage in less than a day.

Sir, Kalbadevi is actually closer to the clearing house (yes he actually shared this) and many a times there are two or three deliveries to the clearing house and hence it must have happened immediately. He also claimed to have been working in that position for some time.

Having had this problem two years ago and gone digging deep officially and unofficially, I shared the following with the branch manager.

Mumbai 400001/21 is where the clearing house is located. So amongst the bank locations which are high revenue, commercial, business branches clearing is instant or less than 24 hours. From the suburbs, priority is to business accounts and mostly as a cost control measure clearing is done once a day. So if you’re in commercial area it is 1 working day; If you’re in suburbs and manage to deposit on the counter in a large branch it is 2-3 working days. If you’re in suburbs and put it in the drop box, add on another day so it can be 3-4 days. I have had many a times measured and mapped this. Banks cover their backside by saying 3-4 working days in tiny font in their 100 page T&C.

When I said that I would be willing to prove this by doing so at his branch, he said it may be possible, I am sorry, but please take my number and call me next time when you are depositing and I will sort it out on priority. DUDE, you’re not doing me a favour, you charge me, make money off me without giving your committed service. Your back log, staff shortage, systems down all is your problem.

EPISODE 2

In urgent need of transaction statement for November 2002 to December 2004, opened App and chatted, was assured that it would be emailed. The email was prompt. Opened it just now. It is just a list of FD for the year 2007 and has some weird numbers.

Monday is gone, ruined.

EPISODE 3

Just when I thought that this was over, BOOM, they decided to ruin my family holiday.

We had gone away on 25th February and staying at a hotel, which was pre booked and the remaining money was to be paid on check out. Imagine my shock, first that no email had been received about statement, but it must have been generated, so I needed to transfer money to my credit card account.

Since, the past year I have been using iMobile the highly sophisticated app by ICICI which serves my purpose quite well, I must admit, for all verification, payment, transfers given the fact that my Account is linked to credit card and I do not bank elsewhere.

Transferred Rs. 25000/- saw it being debited from the account, went up to pay – card declined thrice. Opened the app and saw, No credit to the CC account. Opened the Chat and was told that, we have limited access so please call customer service. AND the troubles magnified.

After 19 minutes of waiting, Some Kajol came on the line and the conversation went something like this:

Me: I need to know why my CC is not reflecting the credit.

K: Sir, it will take a minimum of 1 working day.

Me: In the past it has never happened, please check my account.

K: Sorry sir, it says in out T&C that it will take one working day

Me: Young lady, my savings account is linked to CC and both are in the same bank.

K: Yes Sir, that is why it takes one day.

Me: Then what is the use of using your App

K: Sir, please understand that the platform of the App and ICICI Bank are different and so it takes one working day.

I lost it.

Ms. Do you even know what you’re talking about and how did you become an expert on technology and platform. Are you aware that ICICI claims lacs of seamless transactions are completed every minute and they want more customers to use technology…..blah blah

K: Sorry sir, would you like to speak to a supervisor, By that time I had given up hope. But decided to try it out.

Supervisor: ‘Sorry to keep you on hold, Yes Sir, Please tell me your problem. My colleague said you had a question about clearance of funds.

Me: Please get your colleague to brief you.

Supervisor: That’s OK sir (in that stupid patronising tone they adopt with that southie accent – yes go ahead judge me) you please tell me.

Me: I will tell you, first go and sack that colleague of yours who has no clue and then get your senior.

Click, phone disconnected. AND No call back.

I used my phone to go on the website, transfer money, which was credited in less than a second, paid the hotel.

I get a call from somebody called ‘Deepak Verma – Customer Quality Team’ and we play ringa ringa roses and I fall down like a sucker again. The standard template of ‘Escalation, Sorry sir, future it won’t happen and  I decide to wait’ I get a stupid mail giving a service transaction number and that I should wait till 2nd March 2016. Nothing about my money which has been withdrawn and where is it. All this is on 26/2. Even giving the benefit of doubt it has yet to be credited till date and I have taken screen shots. I also fail to understand how can the App credit not happen, whilst website credit be instant. Then why claim to be technologically advanced yada yada.

I tweeted about this, Template answer received and a call from Hyderabad…same ringa ringa roses, with no solution.

I have said this earlier also – Customers are used as Statistics in India because, there are many suckers – a billion or so. As long as 1% or less complaints are there, your appraisal does not get affected.

I seriously wonder if it is worth pursuing this, shifting banks or hoping for customer awareness to gain traction in India.

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Written by AD
ex waiter, angadia, travel agent, dotcomer, dukaandaar, marketeer, people watcher. appreciates single malt, food, friends