when life throws lemons at you…

I haven’t been blogging for quite a while now; life got on to a roller coaster (which has happened before) but got derailed this time (which has never happened before) :D No major casualties, but definitely left a few bruises will stay for quite a while.

Too many changes happened. Some were planned, some were expected (but hoped not to happen) and some just took me by utter surprise.

I don’t take too kindly to that kind of utter surprise. Sudden changes in decisions, plans, dreams, life, so on and so forth, do not really fall in my list of “I love”s. I am the kind that actually needs time to accept a change and adapt to it well. Even an unplanned movie plan can put me in turmoil. I’m not kidding, it really can. Ask Suraj, if you need evidence :D As someone who absolutely LOVES giving surprises, the poor thing has to think a million times before he can give me one (and finally, he always decides not to). :D

I always need time to prepare myself to major changes: like job changes, relocations, letting people come into and go from my life…

So, when life suddenly throws lemons at me, my first instinct is to duck under the table, rather than make some lemonade out of them.

To start with, I had to quit a job I liked because of certain people and reasons. Then a relocation was briefly considered, which I finally decided will NOT happen. Then my parents relocated back to Trivandrum (and took Pumbaa with them for a while). And then we decided to move houses, which further depressed me, for I’m quite comfortable in the house we live in, and is totally in love with Koramangala (I now totally understand what she meant when she wrote this. And then a few other things happened, which I really do not want to talk about here. So basically, life’s not been too good so far. I don’t think I like 2012 too much :D 2011 was fun and generally stress-free.

The good things: I’m still in the same house; I’ve got myself a new job (which also gave me a laptop, though I still miss my T410…but well, it serves the purpose well enough); I’m still in my ‘initial days’ at work, making me generally jobless and helping me get back to my blog; I participated in a Blogstar competition at work, and both my posts got featured in the top 15 of a total of 56 posts (yay!!) :D; I’m back to my travel-by-volvo days, and enjoying it much; I am back in charge of the kitchen, since the senior chef ran off to Trivandrum forever…and I’ve held on for a month and half now, without eating out most days like we used to before the parents came to B’lore (makes me pretty proud of myself ;) ); I’m back to gardening and talking to my plants and making sure they’re happy—which is actually because of Pumbaa’s absence (he used to make sure he got all my time and attention).

So yes, there are a few good things that make me happy; but the bad ones are quite phenomenal, and damn depressing. I try to push them to the bottom of the pile, but well, they keep coming up for air every now and then. Basically, am not very good company now :D So, be happy none of you are we-talk-daily friends with me :D

I’ve been reading all your posts, ‘liked’ some of them and just quietly left without making my presence known on some others. While it makes me happy to know happiness is happening to many of you out there, I’m also quite frustrated that I’m not in the frame of mind/life to be able to be blissfully happy that way.

While we are at it, I’d like to thank my brother, Hobbes, and Vimmuuu (without knowing at all that I’m in no mood to tolerate his nonsense), for making me laugh like mad in some of my down-in-the-dumps moments and making me momentarily forget that I’m dodging lemons. :D

Life, I tell you! Sigh.

icici: customer scare

I know I’ve bored you all with too much icici tales — but ALAS. I’ve closed the darned account. I can never crib about them again. Yay! Freedom, and peace of mind! So just this once more :)

Gee! I’m on a roll! :)  ICICI seems to be bent up on giving me fodder to rant on. After this and this, here’s some more :) Wow, ICICI sure knows how to make fools out of themselves!

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FODDER 1:

After all that drama, since we were in need to take out at least some of my money from my account (I have no cheque leave, and no ATM card, and they have no withdrawal slip, and I refuse to pay them even a single penny for their precious “instant” cheque leaves/cards), Suraj calls up ICICI Customer Care. He explains the situation and asks if its possible to transfer money from my account to his. He also says neither of us have Internet banking. “Of course Sir, it’s possible. You have to go to your home branch, and she also has to come there and give a written statement to the  Manager, saying fund has to be transferred.” Suraj is overjoyed, but clarifies “My home branch or hers? And is there a limit, or can any amount be transferred?” “YOUR home branch, Sir. And you can transfer any amount, Sir. No limits.”

Suraj’s joy knew no bounds. He took an hour’s off from work, so did I. I knew some screw up would happen, but I kept quiet. At the Jayanagar 9th block branch (his home branch), of course, the first polite, all-smiles response to the query, in typical ICICI-style is “No, Sir…that’s not possible.” We had to tell her about 5 times that the Customer Care employee had confirmed it was possible.

“Ma’am, you can use your cheque leaf no?” I had sworn to myself I would be polite, so I said “I don’t have it; if I did, we wouldn’t be asking for this, right? (sweet smile)”

“How about your ATM card?” Before I lose my cool, Suraj says “I already told you she lost it, and we’ve blocked it.”

She: “Ma’am, in that case, you can buy loose cheque leaves from us.”
Suraj: “But that’ll be charged, right?”
She: “Yes, Sir. It’s Rs 28 a leaf, but we’ll give you 5 leaves together.”
Me: “Hmmm…so Rs 140 for 5 cheque leaves. It’s a lot cheaper here, Suraj. It was Rs 220 at Koramangala, remember?” (sweeter smile)

She gives us both a weird look before continuing, “Or if you go to the Jayanagar 3rd Block branch, you’ll get an instant card. Instantly, they’ll give it.”
Suraj: “But that’ll be charged, right?”
She: “Yes, Sir. It’s 221 a card.”
Me: “Wow. That’s so uncool. Koramangala was cheaper for this one…they had said Rs 150.” (much more sweeter smile)

The lady now is so bewildered, Suraj politely asks her to talk to the Manager. She’s gone a while and returns to tell us “You can transfer a maximum of Rs 5000. For more, you’ll have to go to her home branch.””I clarified and the Customer Care person said I’ve to come to MY home branch, and there was NO LIMIT.” “No Sir, sorry. We can’t do anything. We don’t have the authority. Go to her home branch. Or you can even request her home branch to be transferred to this branch, so it’ll be easier for you both.”

Before indescribable expletives come out of my mouth, Suraj ushers me out, looks at me, sighs and says, “Yes, pannnna stupid horrible ICICI.”

But in this case, I must admit, the lady was DAMN POLITE, and was quite apologetic when she said she can’t do anything to help. And I held on to my temper, since she had no clue what I’d gone through a couple of days back. But well, there’s NO COORDINATION BETWEEN WHAT THE EMPLOYEES AND THE CUSTOMER CARE SAYS!

Where ICICI is concerned, the customer is forever on a merry-go-round, which isn’t quite all that merry!

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FODDER 2:

For a change, this happened to Suraj, and not me! So, I think his “good spell” is waning too. I’m  — not secretly at all — THRILLED!

He, after hearing all my stories and rants, decided that Internet banking HAS to be activated. So he goes to the bank and enquires how he must go about it. The officer there said that though they do have a form he can fill up there, it’ll be a quicker process if he can go about it via Customer Care. (When I tried for this once through Customer Care, they’d explicitly told me I HAVE to go to the bank and fill the form up, there was no other go :) :) :) Different people get different options. Nice!) He also said that the mobile number needs to be registered first in their server.

So Suraj registers the mobile number, and also gives a request to update his address to our current one. The officer said it’ll take a day for the mobile number to be registered, and that Suraj’d get a letter via post confirming the new address.

As promised, the next day dawns with an SMS from the bank stating that his mobile number has been registered. Suraj waits further, and on Day 4, a letter comes via post, stating the address has been changed to the current one, and registered in their server as well.

Suraj then calls Customer Care and requests to activate Internet Banking. So they say they’ll send him a new id and password through post. Recalling how, in my case, without even confirming the address they SENT an id and password to an old address, Suraj says he had changed his address two days back, and asks the Customer Care person to confirm it. But voila! After 6 days — and even AFTER getting a letter by post to the new address — the “server” still hangs on to the old address. “How’s that!? I changed it, and I even got a letter confirming it. If it’s still showing the old one, how did the letter reach me?” “I don’t know, Sir. It’s still showing the old one. We can send the password and id to that address only, unless you change it. If you change it, it’ll take 4 days, and you’ll get a letter. You can then call again and activate Internet banking.”

Dende kedakkunnu! There! So, singing “here we go round the mulberry bush”, Suraj starts all over again, requesting an address change. The guy says Suraj’d get a letter via post confirming the new address. On Day 4, the exact same letter arrives all over again, stating in the exact same words the exact same “new” address” has been  registered in their server as well.

EDITED TO ADD (after the latest address change letter):
     Letter 1 said:    Old address: ABC…     New address: DEF…  (which is exactly what Suraj wanted)
     Letter 2 says:   Old address: DEF…     New address: XYZ…   (ROFL is all i can do!!)
The funniest part is, Suraj DID NOT give XYZ as his address at all! So, I wonder where they go it from. I wouldn’t be surpised if tomorrow they change his dad’s name, or even his very own name — and then shift all his funds to another account saying “That’s your real account number, SIR”! :D

From the looks of it, the next time he calls, a third Customer Care employee will again say it’s still the old address they have, Suraj will again give the new address, they’ll again send the letter. I wonder how many Customer Care employees they have — just so I know how many calls Suraj will make :D  And I wonder if there’ll be enough trees left in the world — considering how many letters they send via post for the same ****ing thing.

So much for getting his Internet baking activated “much more quickly” :)

I think they need a new server that’s willing to accept new addresses and make sense of existing names and stuff. Especially after reading this experience of another customer unfortunate enough to have an ICICI account, I don’t just think, I’m SURE they need one.

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What I just can’t accept is the fact that they’re never inclide to “help”. No matter what the situation is, on whose side the fault lies and how simple it may be solve it, they JUST DONT SEEM INCLINED TO HELP. The first response I always get is a “No”, before they give options, that too, ONLY if we ask! THAT is what pisses me out. I seriously hope they fall out of business. Soooooon!

Customer ser-VICE: the ICICI way

LONG-POST-AHEAD alert!

Ok…I’m honestly ashamed at myself for even letting the nasty “ICICI” be allowed any space in my blog, but well…I have to! For their own UNwell-being!

Their initial tagline was “hum hai na“, translating to “We’re there (for you)“. Probably they realized they’re never there, or maybe they thought just “being there” wasn’t enough. So they changed it to “khayaal aapka“. Well, they have zero knowledge of Hindi. They’ve absolutely no clue what “hum hi na” and “khayaal aapka” means. I think they actually mean “kya haal appka (tch tch)“.

Yes, that HAS to be it. They’re actually mocking, sneering and smirking at their customers, saying “kya haal aapa…poor you!” and then rolling around laughing teir *&%^*& asses out!

For the stupid ICICI Bank, Customer Service just means giving customers a tough time — especially when they’re really in need! I may be prejudiced here, but I must say: I’ve banked with State Bank of Travancore, Axis Bank (which was UTI Bank), Standard Chartered Bank and the horrible ICICI. I’ve never been hesitant to walk into any of the other banks ever — but with ICICI, every single — e.v.e.r.y. s.i.n.g.l.e — time there has been traumatic for me. I’m sure if someone checked my blood pressure before I decide to go to ICICI, and after it, there would be a huge difference, the latter bordering on dangerous!!

Here’s one such incident I wrote about. This is ICICI Customer SerVICE.

Of course, that incident happened over 2 years ago, and I forgot about their “policies”.

Recently, about 6 months back, I needed some money very urgently. I, in fact, had to borrow 30k from a friend. I took her ATM card (in the hopes of withdrawing in 2 days if the limit was 15k) and went to the ICICI Koramangala Branch to withdraw the maximum I could with the card. They have 5 ATM machines in that office — but none worked! So, along with a few other annoyed customers who were there, I walked into the branch, and asked the “very eager to HELP” officer that I needed money, and that their machines were out-of-order. We began on a polite conversation.

“Do you have a cheque leaf ma’am?”  “No, I don’t.”  “Then I’m sorry. You can’t withdraw cash.”  “What? Give me a withdrawal slip, please. This is an emergency.”  “We don’t have withdrawal slips, ma’am. It’s not per our policies.”  “Then what do I do?  “You can go home and get your cheque leaf, ma’am.”  “I told you, I don’t HAVE a cheque leaf. And I need cash immediately. I need about 30k. There’s no other way I can get it?”  “No, ma’am. You can place an order for fresh cheque leaves, and you’ll get it in a week’s time.”  “Do you know what an “emergency” is?”

And I walk out of the bank in a huff, all patience lost, back to my friend’s home. She writes me a cheque for 30k, stating pay “Cash”. Duly signed, filled in well. Ensuring there’ll be no further problems. I go all the way back to the bank and present the cheque. I begin on a polite conversation with the teller lady.

“I need Rs 30,000 in cash. Here’s a cheque.”  “Ma’am, we can’t process this cheque.” (no further explanations, just a blank look. Of course, per their policy, the customer needs to entertain them with the questions!)  “And, why, may I please ask?” I’m beginning to lose it.  “It’s written “Cash”. You’ve to write pay “Self…”  “Listen, lady. This is NOT my cheque. It’s a friend’s.”  “Whatever ma’am. We can’t accept cheque written “Cash”.  “So, my friend must write pay “Self”…and I must bring it to you?”  “Yes, ma’am.”  “So, then you can say “This is someone else’s cheque and it’s written “self”, so that person will have to come”, right?”  No response. That’s when I lose it. I scream at the top of my voice, ensuring all customers hear me: “This is a medical emergency. Your fucking bank has already delayed me by 30 minutes. Because of you, someone could lose his life. If that happens, have no doubt that I’ll sue you as a person, and as a company. I need the money right now. Do something about it.” The lady is irritated now, and tells me:  “Then go upstairs and get an emergency cheque if you want.”  “I’ll sit right here and give YOU 5 minutes to go get a cheque by yourself, and get me 30k in cash. Else, I’ll definitely make sure all you people get in trouble.” And I sit down, fuming, shaking with anger.  There’s a flurry of movement. People running up and down — and I have the cash in hand in 5 minutes.

This is ICICI Customer SerVICE.

Fed up of going to the bank for any more such “services”, I decided to enable internet banking. Once again, after a month or so, I go to the same darned ICICI Koramangala Branch, to enable internet banking. They direct me to the 1st floor, to get it done. I take a token ticket, fill up a form for enabling internet banking and wait for over half an hour, for my token number to be called. Finally, a girl comes around asking people “What’s your query?” I tell her, and she says “Wait, you’ll be called.” After another 15 minutes, she comes, takes the form from me and tells me, “You can leave ma’am. All the employees are busy. We’ll send you your username and password to your mobile in 4 working days.”   I’m surprised. “To my mobile? Is that a safe thing to do?”   “Yes, of course. that’s how we do it.”  “Are you very sure?” “With extreme confidence, she says “Of course, ma’am.”

Eight working days later, I’ve still not heard from them. So, I call Customer Care. “See, I’d requested for my internet banking to be enabled, and I was told I’d get the username and password to my mobile in 4 working…” I barely finish when he interrupts me with a smirk “To your mobile? We don’t do it. We send it to your communication address via post. And from your account details, I can see that it has been sent already.”  “Do you know my communication address?   “It’s…” and he reads out an address I stayed at 3 years ago. I’ve shifted house twice after that.  “But that’s not my address anymore.”   “Then I can’t help you ma’am. You need to block the password immediately.”   I was seething, and I told him “It was a person at the bank who told me it’d come to my mobile — and if she wasnt sure, she should at least have asked me to confirm my address — even the form didn’t have a section asking for the current address!”  “I’m sorry ma’am. Maybe she was new. I’ve blocked your password. You can re-apply at the bank.”

This is ICICI Customer SerVICE.

I swore never to go to ICICI for any damn thing — and I was adamant I wanted to close the bloody account. But Suraj said we’d already given that account number for the housing loan purpose, to show bank balance and statements — and he didn’t want anything delaying the loan.  So I didn’t close it.

A few days back, I lost my ATM card, and I’d to block it. Well, it wasn’t really lost: it was hidden in my bro’s jeans, and after hunting for it over 3 hours, we presumed it was gone, and blocked it. So, now, no ATM card, no cheque leaves. I knew my money was stuck in the bank — of course, they have no withdrawal slip!

I went to the ICICI Koramangala Branch and asked yet another “eager to HELP” official what my options for a withdrawal were. “You can pay Rs 220 and get a cheque book right now, or you can pay Rs 150 and get an instant ATM card.”   I was adamant I wouldn’t part with even 5 paise for this ****ing bank. So, I tell him “So, to withdraw MY money from MY account, I need to PAY your bank. Interesting. Ok. I have another question. I’d like to close my account. How much do I pay for that?” He gives me a weird look and directs me to 1st floor. Oh no, not the first floor again. Aaaarghhh! I tread up the stairs.

I go up to see about 10 people already waiting to be “taken care of”. I take a token ticket, and sit down at exactly 1.05 pm. As soon as a guy comes around asking “What’s your query?”, I tell him my need and ask him how long it will take.   “I can’t tell you ma’am. They’ll call your token number.”  Flabbergasted, I ask “Listen, can;t you just ask them how long an account closing will take?”   “No, ma’am. Sorry.” And he moves on to the next person sitting.  Time slowly ticks away. It’s 1.35 pm and not one person has been called. All the counters have employees, but they’re all “training” new recruits learn the work. How nice. Finally, one of those guys come around asking again “What’s your query ma’am?” I say, very patiently still, that I need to close my account, and when asked why, I say “This is why. I’ve been here multiple times, and your bank and your people have ALWAYS given me a tough time.”  “Ummm…shush ma’am. They’ll all hear you. Ummm…you’ll be called soon.” At 1.50 pm, the guy looks at me, and quickly turns away. So I get up, and call him loudly, asking if someone even plans to call the token numbers. He says “Ma’am, there are people waiting who came before you.”   “Really? So, is that a good thing? I’ve been here for 45 minutes!” “They’ll call you. Please wait.”   “Listen, do you need an account closing form to be filled, or a letter written? Then let me know, so I can do that now instead of wasting time for that later. And how long will this whole thing take?”  “No madam, I can;t tell you till they verify your account.”

At 2.10, I’m called. After repeating for the 4th time WHY EXACTLY I need to close the darned account, she tells me “This is your salary account. We can’t close it without getting a letter from your employer. Otherwise where will your salary go next month?”  Rather pissed, I tell her “There are other banks, in case you don’t know. And, to close MY account, you need MY permission, not my employers. I’ll deal with my company. You just deal with your company policies.” And then she comes up with “We need 10 days to close your account, since from your account number it is evident that your home branch is Chennai”.  I’m quite loud by now. And, I have to tell her it’s not Chennai, but “Kumara Park, BANGALORE”.  “Oh, whatever. It’s not this branch, so we need 10 days.”  “You made me wait for over an hour to tell me this!? Have you NO REGARD for a person’s time!?”  “Well, you never asked.”  “WHAT!? Ask your over-eager-to-help people how many times I asked!”  “Well, they’re all new. They don’t know these things.”  “If they don’t know, they should’ve asked someone who knows, and then told me, right?”   “Whatever. That’s not my fault.’

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is ICICI Customer SerVICE.”

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I really, truly, honestly wish I could ask all you readers, with ICICI accounts to go close them, saying “A friend had too many bad experiences with your bank. So, to support her, I’m closing my account.” or something. I wish I could start a movement like this. Such closures — stating this as a reason — around the country will probably make them re-consider the meaning of “customer service”. But well, I know there might be those of you who’ve had no issues with this bank, and love it. Why say more: my own husband refuses to close his ***ing ICICI account since he’s had no issues so far. So much for “support” :(  When he said he wouldn’t, I was near tears: but I know it’s not fair to pressurise him into doing that. I’m NOT kidding when I tell you that the very sight of an ICICI ATM / board / ad gets me seething. I’ve had too many bad experiences with them.

I’m closing the ICICI one on Monday. I feel on top of the world now! I usually stay away from profanities, but….

ICICI — FUCK YOU! I’ll make sure however and whenever possible, I’ll do ALL I CAN, to ensure I can stop someone from being a bloody ICICI scapegoat. I swear.

I opened a new SBI account yesterday (THEY HAVE WITHDRAWAL SLIPS!), and I explicitly told them I want to shift my salary account from there to here because they’re the MOST HORRIBLE BANK I’VE EVER BANKED WITH.