Is this how a bank should treat a customer?

NDTV Sports reported yesterday that squash player and Arjuna Award recipient Dipika Pallikal has “sued Axis Bank Limited seeking Rs. 1 million as compensation for the ‘humiliation’ and ‘loss of reputation’ she suffered during one of her overseas trips in 2011 after her debit card declined a transaction despite sufficient balance in her account.”

According to the report, ‘The bank had denied charges of having caused mental agony to the player, saying: “The very fact that the complainant is not able to take the slightest disturbance would prove that she lacks the requisite mental toughness of a world champion.

She is only making excuses for her non-performance and it is unfortunate and unethical to allege criminal acts on the bank for technical failure that took place in a foreign soil on which the bank has no control.”’

It would not be possible to comment on the matter without reading the entire correspondence between Dipika Pallikal and Axis Bank Limited. In any case, the matter is pending in the Chennai (South) District Consumer Redressal Forum, which has adjourned the hearing to October 4, 2013.

What is shocking is the bank’s statement that “The very fact that the complainant is not able to take the slightest disturbance would prove that she lacks the requisite mental toughness of a world champion.”

Axis Bank Limited is certainly entitled to defend itself against any charge that has been levelled against it by any customer. It is definitely entitled to contest the customer’s claim for compensation.

But is Axis Bank Limited entitled to indulge in mud-slinging, which is what their statement amounts to?

Would Axis Bank Limited have responded in the same way if the complaint had come from an international cricketer?

If this is how Axis Bank Limited treats an accomplished sportsperson, what kind of treatment can an ordinary citizen expect from Axis Bank Limited?

If the complainant had used inappropriate language or had made wild allegations, Axis Bank Limited could have responded strongly to the same. But, is it correct for Axis Bank Limited to indulge in mud-slinging?

The Brand Philosophy of Axis Bank Limited is

How does this mud-slinging fit into this Brand Philosophy?

It would not be fair to presume that the mud-slinging has been done with the knowledge and approval of the top management of Axis Bank Limited. It would have been done by the department that handles customer complaints with the intention of verbally intimidating the aggrieved customer into softening her stand.

However, given the wide media publicity, the top management of Axis Bank Limited would now be almost certainly aware of this matter. How will they react? How should they react?


11 thoughts on “Is this how a bank should treat a customer?

  1. Completely agree with your viewpoints on this post. I was shocked when you went on to say that the Axis Bank statement included things like “The very fact that the complainant is not able to take the slightest disturbance would prove that she lacks the requisite mental toughness of a world champion.”

    Nobody, not even her coach has the right to make a public statement like that.

    Like you say, when somebody who is an international level sportsperson gets treated like this, wonder what you and I will face at these organizations…

  2. The thing is, customer service is a thing of the past. If at all they respond, the core philosophy is to pass the buck or blame the victim. I was so sad to read this in the newspaper. It is wellknown that outstanding sportspeople do not always get the right encouragement/treatment, except in cricket, but this incident was disgusting.
    I am glad I don’t bank with Axis Bank!

  3. That any official of a Bank of the stature of Axis Bank should bow so low as to go to the extent of such extremely nasty comments should be brought to the notice of the highest in the bank and RBI as well.
    I’m not surprised at the ATM glitch – Two days bank an ATM at my private bank branch denied me the cash withdrawal,on re-entry it dispensed the cash, i collected a mini-statement and handed all the three to the Branch Head to investigate and let me know.
    Mud-slinging of any kind is unpardonable and needs to be put down, more particularly when the bank is at fault, prima facie. Accusing without due inquiry is a strict NO-NO.
    The victim needs to take it up by putting down all the facts in writing first at the Branch level, the next level then to the Bank Central Grievance Committee. The Bank Ombudsman is doubtful as this is a private Bank. The RBI Customer Services Department. The Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum is a shade better than Civil Courts, it should be a weapon of last resort. I speak from personal experience!

  4. This is the state of customer care dealing with complaints in almost all fields, nowadays. I have had a similar experience with Airtel. These customer care complaint departments or billing departments send such harsh mails, you already feel like YOU are the one on the wrong side of law. And, to top it, they have multiple e-mail IDs, which are mostly generic IDs and not one-on-one correspondence, so you’ve to explain the same problem to multiple people. In the end, most of us end up paying whatever they are asking for, and getting rid of the misery. No wonder the lady decided to move the court. I don’t think the fact that she is a sportsperson made any change to the bank’s behavior. The language used, itself should be another case of defamation.

  5. once caught in the web of organizations .. they do whatever because its a group vs you ! Concerned person here is a known personality and thats how the treatment is .. a commoner would have been taken for a task to sue !
    A company like Tata is making pay 1200 bucks uselessly for a connection which I have never used .. threatening to take me to the court of law .. I know its unjust .. still even if I take out time to fight it out in the court I doubt if I will win over Tata .
    Bottomline .. be it a govt office of India or the corporate unless you are big enough to sue them and make a headline .. like above .. forget it !!
    How can a Bank go personal to this level is a matter of astonishment !!

  6. You are absolutely correct. Axis bank’s mud slinging statement is wrong. However, the squash player’s suit asking for one million rupees because her debit card declined a transaction is ridiculous. I have traveled all over the world. If a debit card is declined (even though you have money in your bank account), 90% of the time it is the malfunction of the shop keeper’s (vendor) machine that took the debit card.

    While visiting India, I have had a few similar experience. I would give a card. The vendor will try a few times. He will then say: Sir, this card is not working. Can you give a different card. I would always say: Try in an another machine. They would try. Bingo, it will go through. I cannot be suing for million dollars every time this happens.

  7. Ah, indeed. The Bank most certainly can defend itself, but has absolutely no business questioning the quality of the ‘world champion’! All they needed to do was provide a service, for which they are paid, handsomely too; not to mention the kind of points they earn on their ‘valued’ customers. And yes, if it had been a Cricketer? Therein lies the answer of our partisan mentality. It can still salvage a modicum of decency with a statement, of decent notions. But, will it?

  8. Pingback: Axis Bank apologises | Proactive Indian

  9. Pingback: Handling customer grievances | Proactive Indian

  10. Pingback: Axis Bank pays Dipika Pallikal compensation of Rs. 500,000 for deficiency in service! | Proactive Indian

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