How banking works here....

November 6, 2012

I’ve returned from a memorable trip to the north of Karnataka and then Pune, and part of Maharashtra….but that’s not what I want to write about.

I have to move my banking from the ICICI Bank account that we’ve held so far, to my account at Vijaya Bank, Sarakki Branch. It’s close to my home, I have a locker there, the bank works half-day on Sundays…these are the pluses.

But the minuses? We have three savings accounts there, and it took me the better part of 3 months to get the accounts online…and then, the system blocked me out as I had not changed the password in 180 days (this was not intimated to me at the beginning.) Getting the accounts activated again took another month of repeated visits and phone calls to the call center.

Then I realized that for many transactions, I will need an ATM (debit) card. So last week I went and got the forms (forms are SO beloved of bureaucracy everywhere) and filled them up carefully…and today, I went to the bank. I left late as if I go for “extra” work (that’s what the clerical staff call any work that does not involve direct transactions), I am told that it’s better to come “after working hours”.

I go to Vijaya Bank, Sarakki Branch, at 2.20pm. (Working hours, 9am to 1pm, 1.30pm to 2.30pm.) I make the mistake of approaching the Branch Manager first, to ask why a cheque has not been accepted on e-banking, and to give my ATM card applications.

Meanwhile, I have given our (3) account passbooks for updating. I then go to the concerned Clerical Person (CP1)to hand over the ATM applications.

Then I go to present my self-cheque. “Service is closed,” proudly announces the teller, who’s seen me at the bank for the past 20 minutes. I go to get my passbooks, updating not yet done. I go to CP1 again, as before, to request for another cheque book. “Come back tomorrow,” she says. Why? “I have a big backlog of pending work.” Maybe she won’t have it if she does her work NOW instead of postponing it?

I go to the Branch Manager and ask that I be given the cheque book now. I check on the pass book…updating not yet done. (I’ve had very few transactions in the past few days.). I come back and get the cheque book from a sour-faced CP1.

Then, as I cannot withdraw cash from my account through the teller, I go to the ATM, and try to use my ICICI Bank debit card. Doesn’t work, I try thrice, go back into the bank, and report it to Clerical Person 2 (CP2) who points me to another one (CP3), who is talking on the phone. I finally resort to the Branch Manager again, and tell him the ATM is not working. He asks the CP2, who whines, “I don’t know why, the ATM is not accepting other bank cards.” Why could he not have told me this before? The Branch Manager shrugs. I walk out (er, the passbooks have FINALLY been updated.)

Is Vijaya Bank, Sarakki Branch, the worst bank I’ve known? No. That distinction belongs to State Bank of Mysore, J P Nagar Branch, where, after months of torture,trying to get our accounts online, I had great pleasure in closing my account. I don’t have the energy to relate that horror story….!