SBH ‘Explore’d

I hope you’ve read my earlier experiences with banks. I should be a tough customer for everyone; why else would I have a terrible experience with every bank? Or, may be my stay in ‘Customer Support’ arena for the last 8 years (all my career!) forces me to look at service in a different way.

You can access my earlier posts about Emotional banking, HDFC (here, here and here), UTI, ICICI, SBI and Credit card calls right on this blog.

This one is with State Bank of Hyderabad (SBH). This is the first bank I opened an account with, when in graduation. My dad and uncle wanted me to have an account of my own to start savings (I used to earn OK with tuitions and stuff back then) but the idea of showing off a cheque book was more appealing than savings, so I did open one.

I used it for a while, with not many issues. Until I got my first salary account (with all those free transactions, zero balance, ATM card and Internet banking), I thought standing in line for 20 minutes to withdraw Rs. 300/- was perfectly normal. Then I realized I didn’t have to keep track of the bank holidays and timings (10.00 am – 2.30 pm) anymore. So, I started using ICICI more than SBH. And then someday soon I had already forgotten I had an account with SBH. And then I discovered my ‘passbook’ in some old files.

I took it to the bank and inquired about the balance. By then, they had supposedly changed the account number format twice and it took 45 minutes in the line to get a new account number and passbook with dotmatrix print (It was pen and paper before). Yeah, everytime I asked to have my passbook updated with the transactions, they put the complete book in the printer. How kool?

Then I saw an advertisement on billboard or newspaper that SBH has come up with ATM cards. I had one from ICICI already but why not another one if I have an option? How kool would it be to flash two ATM cards when someone asks if I have a bank account, haan? So, I went to the bank and requested an ATM card for my account.

The first person I approached looked surprised and answered “We don’t have an ATM card for SBH! If you are so much into technology and advanced banking, you have to go to one of those corporate banks like ICICI, HDFC or GTB”. Yep, Global Trust Bank was one of the well known banks then, unfortunately no more now.

I wanted to talk to the manager. Not very surprised this time, I received the same answer from manager. I actually had to get the newspaper cutting and show him that SBH has an ATM card. I wonder how it happened that a branch manager had no information about it. He then inquired with some assistants and gave me an application form.

Six weeks later, I received the card and after another two weeks, and may be 5-6 visits to the branch, I got the ATM pin. All was well till April first week, 2006.

Two days before I left to US on a corporate trip, I lost my wallet. I lost all the ATM cards with some good amount of cash I saved to get new shoes and stuff. I managed to block the credit cards and ATM cards from other banks. Till today I didn’t even bother to visit SBH branch and/ or block the card, it’s almost 4 years now!

Today on my way to office, I saw a billboard that talked about “SBH Explore”. It’s a new face of SBH with all the corporate banking features. Wow, if the technology allows me to access my account without standing in line at the branch, I wanted to give it a try. I walked into office, opened a browser and searched for the URL. I didn’t have any luck at first but then I visited Wikipedia page to get the official site there. And guess what? I see this message below. Cheers SBH! 🙂

Com’on, they forgot to renew the domain name? Huh!

There’s competition out there!

When I first read the line “Everything is same except for the name”, I sincerely hoped it was not. Almost an year ago, I stopped operating my Savings Account with UTI for valid reasons. And when I learned that UTI is undergoing some transformation, was hoping that the change will pull me back to some extent, if not win my heart.

Read my earlier experiences with banks here.

It turns out that they are being very honest about the change. I did contact them after it became AXIS and didn’t find any reason to change my opinion. They have some policies (some of them as stupid as their competitors) and they abide by them.

I don’t term them as bad bankers to start with. It could just be me who is unfortunate. However, when I explained the story recently, they still wanted to stick to their word. This surprises me to some extent. Anyway, it’s true that ‘everything is same except for the name’!

A couple of suggestions to AXIS if they would want to stop inspiring bloggers like me:
  • This is 2007! Not 1985. Every small thing should not need the customer to visit your branch.
    In fact, my experience started with this policy of their’s. They come to us and provide the ‘starter kit’ and what not when opening the account. I don’t even know where the branch office is. For every question I ask, all I hear is: “Please visit your branch to sort this out”
  • Let customer’s access their accounts online! Providing a username and password should not be so difficult.
    I was asked for my Date of Birth, Mother’s Maiden Name and a few other details when I opened the account. They need those details for ‘verification’ in case I forget my password. When I did lose my Internet banking info, they said verification over the phone is not entrusting and they want me in person at their branch office!
  • Use a little bit of technology! Not very too much, a little bit!!
    After the name changed to AXIS, I was browsing through their site to obtain an email address for support. I needed this because they want me to visit the branch if I call. And visiting their branch for every small transaction is the last thing I expect from them. All their ‘Contact Us’ pages have physical addresses only! I could finally get hold of one email address they claim it to be of the chief complaince officer or something like that.
  • And this one is pretty common to all the banks I guess. “The communication has been sent to you and…” complete the story. They never care whether we received the so called ‘communication’ or not. And I wonder what form of communication that is. In fact, last year is when I contacted them for Internet banking information. I stopped using the account since then and my account was closed sometime ago, after a ‘communication’ was sent to me. I don’t remember any email or phone call in the recent past. Further, I did move to a different locality in the past year and didn’t update them as they would need me ‘in person’ to update the address.
  • Blind rule that everyone knows is ‘never lose a customer’.
    In fact when ICICI Bank Branch Manager asked me to close my account because I had a cheque with a mismatched name, I was shocked. This wasn’t much surprising after that. AXIS wanted me to open another account with them. Well, after experiencing their service in so many ways, I am no dumbo to go back to them. I know I don’t have a lot of choice as all banks ‘compete’ in these cheap tricks to make money, I just have to figure out who is less stupid and bank with them. Huh!

If anyone else has suggestions based on your experiences, feel free to comment on this post. I in fact promised to let AXIS know once I publish this post. Hope they will implement a few, if not all of them listed here!