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.”

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

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.

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56 thoughts on “Customer ser-VICE: the ICICI way

  1. Oh dear! You seemes to have had the worst of experiences with them! I avoid bank customer care like the plague. Can’t stand them. But my Dad always has the same horrible experiences. I remember this one time, he got a credit card bill of Rs 13,130.35 and he wrote a cheque for Rs 13,130. Can you believe this, they sent us a reminder saying we had not paid the complete bill amount, becaue of the 35 paise he overlooked? And that’s not all. They kept harrassing my Dad with calls that he needs to make the payment of 35 paise.
    They can be real idiots at times!

  2. Eeeyikes!! Looks like you’ve had a particularly horrible time with them. I’ve heard some similar horror stories from some other friends of mine. I’m not sure why things were so difficult for you. Or was it that the particular branch is bad one??

    I have an account myself with them, never had any trouble with them so far. Nothing exemplary, but nothing to complain either. Although I have to say their customer service through phone banking is lousy.

    Anyway it’s a good thing you have shifted to a different bank. May you have a better experience with this one….!

  3. I had to open an account with ICICI thanks to my dear husband(still not ex legally) P!! He was adamant. Well, so I do have an account there and do understand totally what you go through!! The nationalised banks are definitely a lot better!! All the best with SBI. 🙂

  4. ooops not good experience ..
    I also had a NRI account but closed it ages ago and now i get so many emails .. Thay were very good when I started with them but then they started doing funny things charging for this and that and all..

    and Then when My dad passed away it was chaos getting the account sorted and the funny thing was my Mum was a nominee yet it took ages to get it all done .. and Te worst thing i hated was it seemed they did not give a damn .. Only when i threatened to Close the account and give us a cheque to leave .. did I find them running hither and thither …

    I hope you have beeter luck with some other bank Take care

  5. Hi,
    Came via some blog, but was pleasantly surprised to see a fellow sufferer of the said bank.
    That bank is not meant for salaried persons. It is only for fat cat business guys and corporates. They don’t care about anything of personal banking. It is more show less substance bank.

    Good you closed the account, we too did the same.

    • Welcome to AlphabetWorld! 🙂

      Rightly said — “They don’t care about anything of personal banking. It is more show less substance bank.”

      But I do indent to give them some trouble somehow. 😀
      For the many troubles tehy’ve given me. &$$%%()#$%&^*)_

  6. Sigh…sometimes you just have to make a statement by withdrawing from the service. It’s ridiculous what they put you through. I mean, banks over the world are not known for being nice (after all, they make money from our money) but they still have customer service standards despite ripping us all off. And I didn’t know you had to pay if you lost an ATM card for a replacement! I remember losing mine in the first couple of months that I was here (ended up not lost but hidden somewhere in a bag!) but they cancelled it quickly and sent another one in the mail a couple of days later without me having to pay for it. Anyway, good thing you blogged about it. Sometimes, people just have to know!

    • Yes, it’s such peace, knowing I dont bank with the horrid ICICI anymore!

      And s for your new “supposedly” free card, did you happen to check your bank statement for that or the next month? Because, they’ll rather die than give you a free card: what they do, is deduct the amount for your card from your account balance. We usually never notice that.

      Yea, if at least ONE person decides to stay away from stupid ICICI because of this post, then that’s my victory 😀

  7. Looks like someone is really angry 😦

    That reminds me, I need to encash my stipend cheque and also pay my college fees…and no points for guessing which bank account I have and who is waiting to serve me 😀

    So I might join your movement in a few days’ time 😉

  8. Grrrrrrrrrr arent they! I hv this huge fear even now to step into any bank.. all the running around n the ‘Sorry-U -Messed -it’ is their attitude! Make sure u fill in all the reasons why u closibng the acount… Let somebody face the music!

  9. Oh dear! I hv hd some such heights-of-irritation times with a few customer care services too! Almost feel like bashing them then and there 😦

  10. Heh I wish ICICI reads this!!
    I too had asked them to activate my net banking a year ago, filled up their form, and haven’t received any kind of response from them YET.

    I sympathise with you. I’ve had bad experiences with banks (though not as bad as your experiences) and I must say, HDFC is the best I’ve banked with! 🙂

  11. I have been using ICICI and HDFC, I am a priority bank customer with ICICI and I always had very good customer service.HDFC used to close at 5 makes it impossible for me to go after work, where as ICICI had till 8. I always get called with in few mins and I love their internet banking. When internet banking came, most of the other bank sites were so amateur where as ICICI had pretty decent UI and it was fast. I still use my ICICI account actively though I am outside India. Always had high regard to this bank. Its sad to hear you had some tough time. But one thing where were it is if we are last min person we always end up waiting for..I think we have to blame Murphy for that 🙂

    • I really don’t think it’s to do with “last minute” — coz when i went for activating internet banking, it was not a last minute thingy…neither was this time, when i went…

      and well, like i said…thr will be ppl who are happy with the bank — but i’m sure they’ll be happy with most banks 😉

      If you read comment No. 34 — tht of an ex-employee who is also a “Priority Customer”, you’d know what I mean.

      I’m glad you havent had a problem yet — and i hope that continues 🙂

    • HDFC has very good internet banking. But ICICI’s internet banking sucks big time. And when it comes to this bank I don’t think its Murphy who is to be blamed, but they squarely have to take the blame.

  12. Hey! Im not too fond of this bank either! But Hubby insists that we need to have accounts in different banks and so this one still stays. I had the same kinda experience with another branch to close a Chennai home branch account and I’ve just let that be!

    And lets not even talk about their Phone banking X-( They have messed up my name/account number/card number – just about everything! And I’ve had to call a million times to set that right! Sigh! They just dont care – nationalised banks are far far better!

  13. I can understand what you would have gone through…. ICICI is crappy in services. Use State Bank of India, I have found them balanced, approachable and at least willing to help (despite being a government bank)

  14. Oh God!! What a horrible experience!!

    I closed my ICICI account long back because they didn’t have withdrawal slips, and the customer service is pretty bad..
    I do have their credit card and it’s been alright – have had a few hiccups, but, somehow I have managed to hold on to the card…

    I think it’s m y first time here! 🙂 hi!

    • Completely horrid!

      I know I may sound mean — but i’m jumping with joy reading tht yu closed tht account! God bless you! 🙂

      And well, it’s not your first time here — i think you’ve come back after a looooooooong time 😀

  15. Hello,

    I have been reading your blog .. very interesting I should say.. never left a reply though.. Cant stop myself this time though 🙂

    To close my account or make the dormant account active, the only possible option available at this bank is for me to be present there physically.. Since I dont stay in India, they said “cant help you”… i am also done with them…

    Cheers and take care…

  16. this is surely very bad…thankfully I don’t bank with them so there…

    Had never heard any one talk about the Bank-i mean no good no bad…but now that I know from you I’ll remember and spread the word,sure !

    HUGS

  17. Priya, This is the first time I have visited your blog….. Neha showed me this story and I couldnt stop myself from responding…. I worked for 7 years with ICICI Bank upto 2007 and let me tell you we were proud partners in building the company from nowhere to the largest private bank in India… Today though the company has built size and scale, but somewhere has forgotten the principle that Customer is God…. It is a fact that the service standards have fallen really drastically. This is not a comment I am making, because I have left the organization, I have experienced some brunt myself and I was shocked at the way even I was treated inspite of being a Priority customer and also inspite of being an ex-employee of the bank….. Feel really sad when I hear such stories and when people narrate such experiences. this is not what we wanted the company to be known for…In most cases, the problem is not the process but the people – they have lost sight of customers thinking that they have grown too big to be ignored… i sincerely hope the staff and top management become outward looking and hear the customer voice. .. PS : i have had some nasty experiences with other banks incl foreign banks… so all the best in your new journey with the new bank.

    • Hey chetts — I can’t tell you how much I apreciate this comment you’ve put here. Backs up a lot of what I’ve said in the post! 🙂

      I’m really sorry YOU — as an ex-employee and a Priority Customer — had to go through crap from a bank you so passionately played a part building up. That itself speaks volumes about them.

      And yes, the problem is not the process, but the people — yet, it’s the people that make up the bank. they stand for the organization. like you say, they seem to think they’re over everything in this country.

  18. Well you already know I hate them and yet after reading your experience (the one earlier and this one) I am left fuming. Really, I too feel like starting a movement. I don’t think I have seen any bank behave so irresponsibly to customers. I am so angered reading your experiences. Grrr…..

  19. Pingback: Banking blues | Shail's Nest

  20. Wow, I’ve been away for long. You seem to have had a horrid time. My entire family works in SBI and for me it’s always SBI (for obvious reasons) but a piece of advice, don’t activate mobile banking with them. it’s bad. but everything else is good. And sorry about your experience with ICICI, my boyfriend just closed his account there too after a lot of trauma.

    • Yes, you’ve been! 😉

      And horrid is an understatement! Bah!

      Thanks for that tip — and if I thrs one lesson I’ve learnt, it’s to activate Internet banking even before activating your ATM card 🙄 !!

  21. Pingback: icici: customer scare « AlphabetWorld!

  22. Ok, as a customer, I think this is service at its very worst. The staff are clearly untrained/undertrained, they are simply not responsive enough to customer needs, and the bank is just too large to cater to customers to satisfaction!!!

  23. Sorry to hear about your bad experience. I have experienced some though not with bank but with ICICI prulife, their insurance arm. I suggest you write to bank ombudsman and raise this issue. You can also file a complaint in the consumer forum. That way you can ensure that others do not suffer like you and the said organisation learns its lesson.

    • Yes, everything realted to ICICI is equally bad: be it life insurance, gen insurance or banking! they’re the biggest morons and cheaters in th country!

      Yes, I will do that!

      and Welcome! to my blog 🙂

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