The new breed of private banks is a welcome relief from the state-owned ones we were all made to suffer in the not-too-distant past. However, old habits die hard and sloppy service isn't something too rare.
The worst of the new-age breed is undoubtedly UTI Bank. In fact, it's a nightmare. Whether it's Pune, Kolkata or Bangalore, my experiences with the bank has always been very unsatisfying. Today, my opinion took a further Southward dip and hit rock-bottom. Let me recall the harrowing experience.
I had deposited a cheque worth Rs.30,000 in favour of my sister's account at an offsite UTI ATM located at JP Nagar, Bangalore. Though I had mentioned her account number in the deposit slip, I forgot to do so on the flip-side of the cheque. It was a slip on my part and I own up to it. Days went by and when the cheque amount wasn't credited, I sent an email to the bank pointing to the anomaly. I was pleasantly surprised when someone from the bank called me up to say that since I had failed to mention the account number, the cheque had been sent to the Main Branch located at MG Road. I was asked to visit it and do the needful to help clear it.
I visited the said branch today and after wading my way through the crowded lobby, managed to reach the clearance section. It was manned by four people. When I asked if it was the clearance section, no one bothered to reply at first. Only after being more persistent was I told that it was. Not a trace of politeness could I catch in the tone. I then recited what had brought me there, to which one of the personnel listened with a look of immense irritation writ large on his face. Halfway through, he cut me short and refuted my claim saying that the cheque must have been sent to the JP Nagar Branch and not the Main Branch. I protested saying that I was directed to the Main Branch since that's what the records apparently show to the one who had called me up upon receiving my email.
Our rowdy man simply refused to do anything about the matter. He could have cross-checked, but didn't. Now what is someone supposed to do when two people from the same bank say contradictory things about the same cheque's location? In desperation, I called up the person who had contacted me. He ostensibly rechecked the records and reaffirmed that the cheque was indeed in the Main Branch. I told him what had happened. In return, he redirected me to someone named Smita. I approached her, got her up to date, only to be redirected back to the clearance section! When I protested, she flatly refused to be of any further assistance. Back to Square One!
I was desperate by now and dialled the first guy once again, only this time someone else answered. He was apparently aware of my situation and asked me to hand over my phone to the clearance personnel. I tried to do so. The personnel gave me a look of such supreme indignation that I began cursing the moment I had to deal with the blessed bank in the first place. He took my phone and immediately launched a flurry of verbal abuses at the other person. In effect, he tried to refute the claim that my cheque was at that branch and that consequently he had anything to do with it. I knew by then that my cheque was history. I took my phone, spoke over it for some time before being put on hold...and that was the last I ever heard from him. I waited for my phone to ring. Nothing happened.
I knew fighting would be futile. My past experiences with the bank hadn't been much better. I beat a hasty retreat to HDFC Bank and issued a Stop Payment of Cheque request. The job was promptly done in no time.
What makes UTI Bank so thick-skinned? Why is it manned by personnel who don't even know the basics of etiquettes and manners? Why do these folks don't feel the heat from far more professionally managed private banks? I guess it's the faulty work culture and lack of accountability that has made the bank the mess that it is today.
And I'm not the only one to be so disposed towards UTI Bank. Many of my colleagues, friends and relatives have similar plights to recall. If things are to get any better, the first thing the bank must do is to make its employees go through compulsory courtesy schooling. That way, at least they'll stop behaving like hooligans and be a bit more professional and responsible.