Thursday, May 5, 2011

The SBI customer experience

Since I would be starting my career next month, I thought I might as well do some financial planning. The first step was to open a PPF (Public Provident Fund) account. One can open a PPF account at the Post Office (you can do it through an agent as well) and at an SBI Branch.
I decided to open one through the SBI since it provides the facility of electronic transfer through my savings bank account.
The branch below my building does not conduct this business and hence I had to go to a fairly distant SBI to open an account. This is my experience with the "Banker to every Indian"
There is one lady who is only responsible for the PPF business. She was very kind and helped me fill the form (not that it is a difficult one). I filled it up and gave it to her with proof of identity and proof of residence (Hail Weber's bureaucracy). Surprisingly, she cannot check the documents. For that one has to go to the "operations" manager. Now this guy goes through the documents at his own pace. In the meantime, he has all the officers coming to him for permissions regarding allowances for certain deviations. HE is the BOSS. He also finds time to call up customers and ask them if they have indeed sent some person (a domestic help) with a cheque. He checks my documents and then logs on to my SB account. Surprisingly, he doesnt find my signature in their records! He asks me whether I had faced cases of cheques being dishonoured. I say a yes only to find him asking me the reason given by my Branch. A bit shocked, I said that the reason given was "signature does not match with original". The fact was that they had never scanned my signature. For the past two years, they have dishonoured three of four high value cheques. I decided to go to my branch once this PPF business was over.
After verifying my documents, he tells me to go back to the lady and fill up a pay in slip. I do the needful and before I could submit the documents to the lady for opening up the account, I find that she has gone for lunch. After half an hour, I go to her and she opens up an account. I thought that was it. But she tells me to go back to the operations manager and take an account number. I go back to the manager and he tells me to come back next week as the branch manager is not there!! I protest and he asks me to give a cheque ( I had intended to give cash)! I give him the cheque and he tells me to come back next week. Resigned to my fate, I give back the documents to the lady and ask her whether the PPF account would be automatically linked to my online profile. She answers in the negative and points to another person in the bank. Tired of documention, I tell her I will do that next week and head back to my SB account branch to resolve the signature issue.
At my branch, the operations manager checks my account, and with an indifference attitude, tells me to fill one more form. I enquire as to whether my PPF account cheque would bounce and he answers in the affirmative. A bit angry, I tell him to hasten the process of getting my signature on their records.
Today, I downloaded the Bank Code of Conduct and was planning to write a complaint. While the document was downloading, I logged into my SBI account and I see that a PPF account has been opened. They have transferred the amount to the account (so the cheque did not bounce) and the PPF account has been linked to my account.
Do these guys at the branch do this purposefully so that I can be delighted later and probably sign off a blog post, not as an irate customer but as a delighted one? I dont know!!

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