Awful banks

Awful banks
By Walter Ang
October 7, 2002
Philippine Daily Inquirer

When I got pick-pocketed earlier this year, I had to call two banks to have my ATM cards blocked. I was hoping I wouldn't have too much trouble doing so, but I guess I didn't hope hard enough. I called up Equitable-PCIBank first. The lady (I failed to get her name) who helped me was receptive and very quick. In less than five minutes, my card was blocked. I even asked her if she had the hotline number for another bank and she graciously looked for it, even if she didn't have to. I was very impressed and started feeling better already.

But when I applied for a replacement card at the Soler branch in Binondo, five days had already gone by and it still wasn't ready. I raised my voice and told them I wouldn't leave until they found out what was going on. As the guy in charge was making phone calls to the head office, one of the tellers started scowling (even though she wasn't handling my situation) and banged the phone receiver down in front of me when she also couldn't get through. Then she kept asking me in an acid tone, "Do you need to withdraw? You can withdraw over the counter!" I replied, "That's not the point!"

I waited another week to claim my card. By then, I was sure word had already gotten around the small branch and every single employee was waiting to catch a glimpse of the irrational, demanding client--me. A teller took one look at me, smiled with a knowing look and smugly asked, "Bakit ngayon ka lang? One week na kaming naghihintay." (What took you so long? We've been waiting a week.)

I kept quiet, claimed my replacement card and left. All banks in the Binondo area are notorious for having awful customer service. They have no queues and people just come in, flop their documents down on the counter and rely on the "I'll come back for it later" system. It's horrible.

Red tape
Metrobank gave me the most trouble. I couldn't find the hotline number so I tried my luck with any number I could get from the directory. I explained that I knew I hadn't called the correct department and asked if they could at least give me a number I could call. The guy on the other end of the line wanted me to call the branch (Roosevelt) where the account was opened. He explained that only the Roosevelt branch had the authority to block my ATM card. It was already 5:30pm and I was sure no one would answer my call.

I refused to call the Roosevelt branch and asked if there was any other way. As he was explaining my concerns to his officemates, I overheard a lady saying, "Ay, ayaw ko ng ganyan." In the end, they were finally able to block my card after all. God only knows why they couldn't just block my card from the beginning instead of telling me to do all sorts of other things.

If you've never been stolen from, you have no idea how terrible feels. No one reports a stolen card for the fun of it. I was already feeling horrible and then I have to get that kind of (non) help from the bank? Even if the employees weren't in charge of blocking cards, basic human decency dictates a certain amount of courtesy if you're going to talk to someone who's just been a victim of a crime.

When I called Metrobank Roosevelt branch manager Flor Kwan to confirm the blocking of my card and to relate my experience and all she uttered was a disinterested, "Okay." No explanations on why they don't have a centralized card blocking system. Not a smidgen of sympathy nor an offer to rectify the situation.

Due all the trouble they gave me, I decided to close my account. Imagine if I were unfortunate enough to lose my ATM card again! I certainly wouldn't need the grief they'd certainly give me.

The officer at the bank who entertained me didn't even ask why I was closing my account. The Metrobank Roosevelt branch doesn't care about their depositors enough to try and keep them. I don't care to keep my money with them. In fairness to the bank however, I have to say their Call Center's assistant manager Lucy Jorayeb was receptive to my complaints and was very apologetic.

I think banks everywhere should hire people who've worked in fastfood outlets. At least they'd be nicer, more courteous, faster and more efficient. They should just hire Human Resource trainers who've worked in the fastfood industry to give better training to their employees. If fastfood employees have to say good morning and smile and be quick on their feet, why can't bank employees? We certainly give them more money!