(This post was originally published on June 18, 2013.)
At about 10.00 am one day, I submitted a requisition for a Demand Draft at a branch of a leading private sector bank. The person at the counter told me that the DD couldn’t be issued because the printer was not working. She assured me that the DD would be delivered to me at my residence by 3.00 pm that day. I replied, “OK. But, please also pay me Rs. 300.00 Late Payment Fee and interest for one day @ 40% per annum. That’s what your bank charges me if I pay my credit card dues after the due date.” She looked totally puzzled, then spoke on the intercom to somebody and requested me to meet the Manager in his room. I politely stated that I wanted my DD immediately and I had no desire to meet the Manager.
Within a few seconds, the Manager came to meet me. I told him:
a. According to his bank’s norms, Demand Drafts should be issued within 10 minutes. There is no disclaimer about printer breakdown, etc..
b. His bank charges all customers Rs. 300.00 Late Payment Fee and interest @ 40% per annum if credit card dues are paid after the due date, irrespective of the reason for delay. In all fairness, the same system should apply when his bank issues a DD after 10 minutes.
When the Manager replied that there is no provision for Late Payment Fee and interest for delays in issuing DDs, I told him I would make my demand by a letter to him with a copy to the Banking Ombudsman. He requested me to wait for a few minutes and went to his room.
About 10 minutes later, he came out, gave me a handwritten DD and explained that he could do this only after taking permission from his senior. I thanked him and told him that, if he had done this in the very first instance, he would have saved himself the embarrassment of being spoken to by me in the presence of his other customers!
I had observed that other customers, including a few elderly persons, were being asked to come back to the bank at 4.00 pm to collect their DDs. All of them agreed without a murmur of protest. I wondered:
1. Were these persons not aware of their rights as customers?
2. While all others were being asked to come back to the bank to collect their DDs, I was told that the DD would be delivered to me at my residence. Why this discrimination? Had the person at the counter been instructed to handle potential ‘tough customers’ with care?
There are time norms for various services available at bank branches in India. For example, one bank’s norms are:
Cash payment: Within 8 minutes
Issuance of Demand Draft: Within 10 minutes
Collection of local cheques: Within 2 working days
Collection of outstation cheques: Within 14 working days
I’m not sure if all banks have the same norms, and if these norms are expected to be adhered to very strictly.
As far as I’m concerned, these norms are indicative, and slight deviations are acceptable because of unforeseen situations like power cut, slow system, etc.
If the service in any organisation is below the stated norms or below my reasonable expectations, I demand better service and, in most cases, I get better service.
Unfortunately, most persons in India are extremely undemanding customers. They patiently put up with poor service. Some are not even aware of their rights as customers.
If more customers demand good service, poor service will become the exception rather than the rule.