Banks continue to treat customers shabbily!
Anil Agashe 05 June 2012

This is a story of HDFC Bank. Other banks are not any better

My wife has an auto loan with HDFC Bank. We decided to part pay the loan. I called my personal banker to ask him the minimum amount I need to pay. He told me the loan department has not yet opened for work as yet and that he would let me know in one hour! This is core banking for you. He called back within one hour as promised only to tell me that he can't access the information and I should call their call centre and ask them! So much for a personal banker, who you are supposed to contact for your 'Banking Needs".

I did not have my loan account number with me and requested him to trace the loan from my Customer ID which I thought was enough for all my transactions. They could only trace my loan through my car number and not from Customer ID-even though the EMI (equated monthly instalment) is debited to our savings account with HDFC itself. I later found out that my savings account reflects the loan account number as well.

I then got a call from loan department saying that I will have to pay 3% pre-payment charges on the amount that I wished to pre-pay. I protested saying RBI had asked banks to do away with these charges. I was told, "We have no such information and your request for waiver has been forwarded to higher authorities."

A couple of days back I got a mail saying that for making the pre-payment I would have to travel to their "loan branch" and I couldn't make the payment at the branch where my account was! I would also need to carry an authority letter from my wife to make the payment along with my wife's and my photo ID.! I asked why do they need all this when I am their client and paying money from my savings account with them? The answer was as usual "Sir this is our procedure and I can't do anything about this! Our system is like this."

Finally I went to my branch where two officials came to my rescue and accepted my cheque for pre-payment. So at the branch I do get personalized treatment, may be because I keep causing trouble to them! But what about other customers?

When liquidity is tight and banks are offering high rates on deposits should they not be welcoming pre-payments and actually offer incentives rather than asking for penal charges? Or are they saying that we have increased our cost of funds but don't know what to do with the money? If that is the case then they should reduce interest rates on deposits!

I also learnt that no charges are applicable on your at par cheques only up to a limit of Rs2 lakh per month; anything above that is chargeable. I have no idea why this is so. Banks with complete automation are expected to become customer friendly. When I was a banker, without computers we delivered better service to our customers! This also reinforces my belief that IT companies lack domain knowledge and banks themselves do not provide all information to them when they are writing the software. So the customer will be at the mercy of the banks and their systems, developed by great Indian IT companies! 

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