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.