Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Penalized for not maintaining minimum balance

    236, Desu Colony
    New Delhi – 110046

    The Customer Care Officer
    Montak Shivendra Bank

Sub: A document that explains why Minimum Balance (AQB) was not maintained in my account.

Dear sir/ madam,

My account (A/c No: 090909090909) was opened in Feb 2006 as a Corporate Edge Salary Account when I was an employee of JOSHI EDUCTION PVT. LTD. (Debt Card No: 8693-8976-0956-1866). Opening of this account happened at an inappropriate time during my stint in JOSHI, I should say. In a few weeks since the account was opened, I left JOSHI. I was (un)lucky to receive only a month’s salary (Rs. 8,800/-) in this newly opened account. Unfortunately, this amount, as we all know, was not enough to maintain a bank account.

Life was as hard as ever when all these things took place. At that time I was also a novice in the domain of banking (You won’t believe, when I learned to use the debit card, I considered it one of the greatest achievements in my life.) And thus life went along after my failed career in JOSHI, with long periods of unemployment interspersed with meagerly paid or even unpaid assignments in a few other organizations in the city. Though there has never been enough money in my Montak account (just recently I got the right word for this: AQB – it sounds so stubborn!), Montak ATMs/Partner ATMs came to my rescue when I had urgent cash requirements – meager requirements indeed they were.

Two years eight months down the line, I learn that the bank with whom I had always looked forward to maintaining a long-term relationship has penalized me for reasons I am not fully convinced about. The questions that immediately came to my mind were:

1. As far as I can remember, at no point in time was I informed by the bank that if salary stops being credited to an account, it automatically converts to a Savings Account. And more importantly, that all rules applicable to a Savings Account are applicable to the converted account too. And even today, if you look at the “Profile” of my account in my net banking web page, it’s written “Corporate Edge Salary Account.” (Refer the image below.) Isn’t this information misleading to an account holder? I received a communiqué from the bank in July/Aug 2008 titled “General Schedule of Charges for Savings Account – effective August 1, 2008.” Following this I called up a customer care executive of Montak phone banking (I wish you were able to access our conversation if it’s recorded). The executive assured me that there is no minimum balance requirement for an account opened as Salary Account and to which salary ceased crediting. It sounded logical to me too!

2. In order to maintain minimum balance I need to either submit a cheque at Montak ATM/Branch or do a money transfer online from one of my other accounts. Montak does not have many branches/ATMs in the city. Many a time journey to a branch/ATM cannot be clubbed with my other travel plans within the city. Though I did take pains to deposit a cheque at a branch (for Rs. 13,960/- credited on 10/01/2007), the idea didn’t appear feasible to me. As regards net banking, till recently net banking was all Greek and Latin to me. Nevertheless, I didn’t cherish the idea of withdrawing all amount from my account using the ATM facility, thereby making it a virtually dead account.

3. After updating my mailing address with the bank in March 2006 the next service request I made to the bank is in Sept/Oct 2008. That was for Net & Phone Banking passwords. Several quarters had already elapsed without Minimum Balance in my account. No deduction was done during this period. This, coupled with the reassurance given by the Phone Banking Executive in July/Aug 2008, gave me ample reasons to think that I need not give high priority to reviving this Salary Account of mine. However, as a first step towards getting easy access to my account, I activated Net and Phone Banking facilities (Please note that I have never used this facility anytime in the past.). I also updated my mobile number with the Account. It’s unfortunate that before I could transfer cash from one of my other accounts, Montak chose to take this harsh step: Non-Maintenance Charges of Rs. 750/- were cut in Oct 2008.

Here I would like to have clear answers to the following queries:

1. How can an account holder be penalized for not maintaining minimum balance for an account opened as Salary Account?

2. How would the bank account for the lack of communication (as it was never communicated to me that my account has been converted to Savings Account and all rules apply to this too.) and mis-communication (as has been done by the phone banking executive mentioned earlier)?

3. How logical it is if a bank like Montak Shivendra charges the same amount (Rs. 750/-) as charged by banks with wide network of branches/ATMs like the ICICI or SBI? Non-maintenance of minimum balance, in my opinion has cause-effect relationship with insufficient network of branches/ATMs.

I have transferred an amount of Rs. 25,000 in two installments to my Montak in the last week. I believe in long-term relationships. I request the bank to kindly refund the non-maintenance charges cut from my account, so that we can work out some mutually beneficial investment schemes for the future. Even otherwise it’s all hard-earned money!!

With respectful regards,
    New Delhi,
    16th Nov 2008.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Explosive mail to my boss and HR

Here is how I responded when the organization I worked with tried to put me under an inefficient reporting officer, who had proven her worthlessness in the academic year 2007-08.

The mail content and attachment below:

Hi all,

With the merging of junk-content-with-maps.com (well, it's a fake name) with shit-content-with-maps.com, it seems a new organizational structure has come into play at MapWW. As you all are aware, I was working for junk-content-with-maps.com for the last few months. With the new arrangement I will, probably, be deployed under Pasha, who was my reporting officer till March 2008.

The gist of the text below is this: "I simply cannot accept the authority of Pasha anymore in anything pertaining to my work and life at Jumpcare."

I started preparing a document recalling what I've learnt from this lady till date. Please find attached the document in its initial form. If am allowed one more day in Compare, I am sure I will be able to add hundred more things to it.

Moreover, after the organization's debacle in the financial year 2007-08, I have lost faith in leadership in general and Pasha in particular. She is simply inefficient to lead a group of content writers or editors. This was evident if we look at the mass resignation of people in Pune, including the highly qualified Team Leader, in the last few months. Now, do I need to start from scratch, being a sub-ordinate of this lady? Does anyone know why I remain to be a Subeditor even after one year nine months of my service in the organization? Pasha knows the answer.

To sum up, to go back under the supervision of Pasha again is suicidal for me. There are many other alternatives, to use my skills to the benefit of the company. If HR has not completely reduced to a bunch of clerks and sycophants of senior management, I request them to step in and offer some practical solutions to the problem.

The Attachment:

Her boastful, hollow-talk:

In a meeting on 22nd Aug, which was attended by Mona and me, Pasha boasted on how she trained Pune writers to a level to which they are now able to write on their own. She regretted they being relocated to client projects at this stage of training. But look at a blog post by Maharshi on 28th Aug, a week after Pasha's boastful talk:


No sensible person will ever come back to the blog, or to the site after reading this post. This is like making a mockery of poor Indians (at one place the write-up says poverty has reduced and it contradicts the statement at another instance.) Is this how Pasha trained the writers to be sensible and self-sufficient?

Her ignorance about work flow:

I was asked by Pasha once to proofread a brochure for Shit-content-with-maps -YP project (of Brahman and Parekh). This was in the month of August 2008. Pasha knew it for certain that I had dissociated myself from the YP project and is solely responsible for Maps of World for the last three-four months. To proofread a brochure means to make the final corrections. The person who proofreads assumes that the content is already finalized. In this case, unfortunately, the content was not finalized by the Shit-content-with-maps -YP team. I did my job perfectly and sent the brochure for printing. As a final step, the printer sent us the final Printer's Proof. I had a doubt about a word or two in the final print-out (“W3C Content Certificate”, I guess was the phrase about which I had doubt). I approached Pasha to clarify this. She went to Parekh and got to know that the whole content needs drastic changes. Can anyone think of such a situation where drastic changes are suggested in final Printer's Proof? NO. Then, why did this happen? It's because the planning and implementation of the brochure didn't follow the proper route. Before making the design, the content for the brochure should have got the approval of the YP team, which Pasha didn't ensure. She came directly to me and asked me to proofread. I had to sit several times with the Graphic Designer to get the brochure proofread. Now everything will be re-designed. How many manhours have been lost? No one is bothered. I doubt whether Pasha understands the difference between content writing and proofreading. Had I signed the final copy, I would have been in great trouble. (Something funny happened at this time: the proof from the printer looked pale. I knew that it is not because the printer is using a bad machine, but this is the way the proof from the printer looks. But Pasha, as if she's seeing a printer's copy for the first time, astonishes at the fact that the brochure looks pale. She asked me whether I had also noticed the same. I was surprised to listen to this comment. An Operations Manager is not even acquainted with a printer's proof of a brochure !! Is she seeing a proof for the first time?)

Her inability to make logical conclusions

After “Ahmedabad Blasts Update” post of Shit-content-with-maps blog appeared in Google ranking, Pasha was touted as the messiah of blogging. Lamy, President MapWW, was all in praise for her and asked me to learn from her the basics of blogging. I told him at that time that it is one thing you end up to be successful once and it's another to derive principles of your success, or to theorise how you became a success. Naturally, I expected a document from this successful blogger with general principles about successful blogging. The document she produced was neither comprehensive nor helpful to the writers. After that I produced a document with my basic knowledge on blogging, only to invoke a stony silence from all those who are concerned. Why there has never been a discussion on successful blogging? Can anyone in Jumpcare demonstrate the workability of the methods explained in Pasha's document?

Friday, August 08, 2008

Phone banking complications in India

I wrote to the customer care center of a certain bank in India after passing through a harrowing time with regard to my Debit Card.

Dear sir /madam,

This is an account of the complications I faced with Phone Banking of XYZ bank. This account does not have an intention of taking anyone to task. On the contrary, this should give both of us an opportunity to understand what has gone wrong and where. We must be aiming at plugging loopholes rather than penalizing anyone for it.

I'm a XYZ bank account holder since July 2007. (Savings A/c no: 111-4-232323-8) This is in fact my salary account and was opened for me by the organization I'm working with.

I went on a week-long vacation to Kerala, my native place. From the ATM of ABC bank in Irinjalakuda town (Thrissur District), I tried to withdraw money from my XYZ account. By mistake I entered wrong PIN thrice (I should have canceled the process mid way through, and have recalled the PIN properly before making further attempts. I was a bit hesitant to do this, since by doing this, I thought, I will be wasting one of the four insertions allowed by the bank in one month in other ATMs). After three wrong PIN entries, my card was blocked from doing further transactions. However, I received back my card from the machine.

If you believe me, I have been using debit cards of different banks since 2003. Currently I hold four debit cards of different banks and I have never been an absentminded person. The event mentioned above was the first in my life, an error that occurred once-in-five-years.

I rang up the hotline number in Ernakulam / Kochi and explained the matter to the Phone Banking Executive. ID verification was done in a few seconds' time. I might have said something like: “My debit card PIN has been blocked” or “My debit card has been blocked” to the executive. She answered something like: “We'll be able to permanently block (or lock) your card, not temporarily”. I was a bit confused at this. I wanted my card / PIN to be unblocked / unlocked and nothing more. I don't know how much clear I was in conveying this idea to her.

When I asked her whether there is any fee for PIN unlocking she said that the cost of a new normal Debt Card is Rs.---/-. Hearing this I told her that I didn't want a new Debt Card, but just wanted to unblock the PIN. The executive argued with me saying that she had confirmed with me twice whether my card was CAPTURED by ATM or not. I told her that I had not uttered the word 'captured' in the conversation till that time. I was ready to correct any miscommunication that might have inadvertently happened in the conversation. We were still online and the call was not even disconnected. But nothing was of any avail. The executive had already blocked my card permanently by that time. All these happened on 10th April 2008.

The second part of the story is very simple. I told her that I should not be charged for the new card. She agreed. I said I will be back in Delhi on 16th April and requested her to send me the new Debt Card in my Delhi address only after that. She said she would call me on 16th April.

On 16th April I waited for her call till noon. In the afternoon I rang up Delhi hotline number and narrated the whole story. No official request was found recorded. I recalled that no official request number was given to me for the request I made on 10th April. Hence, my story appeared fabricated to the new executive who attended my call on 16th April. Somehow I could convince the new executive what had actually transpired on 10th April. She gave me a formal request number (Preeti/BT/23988/112) and assured me that the new card will be sent to me free of cost. I'm awaiting the new Debit Card now.

The third part of the story is, from 10th April to till date I have no Debt Card to do any kind of transaction with XYZ bank. When I registered the request for a Debt Card on 16th April, I was told that the card will be sent to me in 4-5 working days. I registered a follow up request on 29th April (Prem/KP/8987/898). I had already received new internet banking username (16 digit number) and Debit Card password. But not the Debit Card.

(I am unable to login to my internet banking is the forth part of the story. This is probably because I'm not entering the correct password. Or, because the internet banking is not (re)activated after the new debit card/ number was allotted to me. I checked this by again calling up an executive: “Is there a connection between internet banking and ATM, because even though I try with the new 16 digit user name, my internet banking is not working. Is it going to be active only after my first insertion of Debit Card in an ATM machine?” I asked her. She was not very sure. However, I have not yet made a formal request for a new internet banking password.)

I don't know for how long I again have to wait for the new debit card. All because of the executive who unnecessarily deactivated my Debit Card forever. I curse the moment. She should have simply unlocked my PIN allowing me to do transaction with the same card. I could not withdraw money from the ATM in my home town and hence, I could not give any amount to my family during this vacation. I curse the moment I entered the wrong PIN.

Phone banking executives should not deal with customers mechanically, instead they should try to put themselves in the shoes of the customers while addressing the grievances of the former. If someone says his card has been blocked or locked because of wrong entry of PIN, the executive should clearly verify from the customer what exactly is the situation. S/he should be able to explain the two possibilities that might have happened with wrong entry of PIN: First, the user makes three wrong entry of PIN and is blocked from doing further transactions. The user however gets back her/his card. Second, after three wrong entries the card is captured by the ATM machine. PERIOD.

How things got so complicated, I'm asking myself. Why such a simple process is so much delayed, I'm asking the bank.

Best regards,