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Sunday, April 5, 2009

Finding peace of mind can cost you peace of mind...

Couple of months back - on one fine Saturday. It was 11.30am but Hyderabad was HOT! I was riding my bike after very long time. I wanted to go inside the building to park my bike but guard refused. He said - I couldn’t take my bike in. Alright. All I wanted to know was – where could I park my bike? I asked multiple times but every time he gave me same answer: I couldn’t take my bike in. DAMN! I was sure I was not speaking in Spanish that the guard couldn’t understand. The deadly combination of HOT SUN and repetitive irritating answers brought THE BAD LEO out of me and I SCREAMED at him. WTF. Why can’t he give a proper answer?

That makes me wonder why all my experiences are around peak noon hours :-)

Anyways, I parked bike outside the building and went in. The building was Cyber Tower.

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Well… now we need to take a flashback.

Sometime last year, financial market went south. Lehman brothers sank. ICICI bank was hit a little bit [around 500 crore :-)] and that was the first time I realized that I was banking with ICICI and only with ICICI. Now I needed one more account in a nationalized bank to distribute my liquid cash. When I thought of a nationalized bank, first name came to my mind was the mother of all Indian bank – State Bank of India (SBI). I was sure having my money in SBI would give me peace of mind.

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So now I am going to share how I lost peace of mind while trying to find peace of mind :-)

Opening New Account
Never thought it would be so easy! A representative from the bank came to my office, collected documents and opened account on the spot! I received welcome kit, checkbook, debit card, debit card PIN number, internet user id and password and all done in less than 30 minutes. WOW! Yeah that was really WOW from a nationalized bank!

Internet banking
I was asked to wait for 24 hours before logging in. I waited. I logged in and it worked! Sometimes though certain things are suppose to work, it surprises when it works! Like a city bus coming on time, like my bike which starts even if not used for 6 months, like a politician keeping a promise..!

So once you login to you SBI account, you are asked to change your user id and password which I did happily. (Well, I didn’t know something screwed up. I came to know after few days…)

First Bitter Pill
Now first thing I wanted to check was - if I could transfer money from ICICI to SBI. I logged in to ICICI and searched for all SBI branches where I could transfer money. BUMMER – my SBI branch was not listed L. (Let me confess – I love net banking. I just love everything that I can do online while sitting on my bean bag. I do so many things online - pay phone bill, pay credit card bill, do online shopping, open online recurring account, open online FD, find online driving direction and much more). So for my lazy bums, it was such a shock to know that I couldn’t transfer money online to SBI account L Hmmm.. What to do? The simplest solution is - I need to transfer SBI account to another SBI branch where I could transfer money from ICICI.

I called up customer care hoping I will get some help. I was told I need to visit the SBI branch to get account transferred. I could do that only on Saturday.

Second Bitter Pill
Meanwhile, after couple of days I tried logging in. BUMMER - I was greeted with an error message: Invalid user id or password :-(

Do you hate this message as much as I do?
A minute before, you want to login and do something important and a minute later, you realize you have a long battle ahead - To retrieve your forgotten password. Oh it’s such a painstaking experience… GRRRRRRRR.

Once again I called up customer care hoping I will get some help. Only help I got was the suggestion – I need to visit the branch.

So to transfer my account and to get internet account working, I was visiting the branch when I had that heated exchange with the security guard.

1st Branch Visit

Account Transfer
Enter the office. Appears like a government – those typical tables, chairs and scattered arrangement. Only difference is - nice sofa set for visitors. I ask what I need to do and I am told to surrender my old checkbook and fill in a form to transfer account. I did. How long will it take to transfer account? 2 weeks. How will I know it’s completed? Will I get SMS or an email? NOPE! I am told that I need to come to branch and check it. How silly. Why we don’t use technology when we have it available? They ask customer to provide email id and telephone number while opening an account but don’t use it to notify them. Why O Why?

Internet Banking
I am told I can’t get internet account problem solved till account is transferred. Why O why? No answer.


2nd Branch Visit

Account Transfer
To my surprise, account was transferred! YIPPPI! So where is my new checkbook? Bummer – I need to provide address proof once again. Now this certainly defies logic. I opened an account with SBI just a month back and I provided address proof at that time. Neither I am a cat or a criminal who keep on changing their whereabouts every now and then. So why I need to provide address proof once again? Why O why? Again, no answer. I am told that’s the process. Sucks.

Internet Banking
Interestingly (and annoyingly) my bank account is transferred but my internet account is still not linked with the new branch. What should I do? Something which I haven’t done for ages and something which happens every minute at a nationalized institute – Write an application! Is there a form to fill up? I ask. Answer is – No. Take a blank paper and write an application. Same way as you used to write absent note in school.

3rd Branch Visit

Checkbook
So I obtained address proof from my office. On official letterhead. I went to the bank. Went to the lady who had asked for the address proof as part of account transfer process. She asked me to go to another person to submit.

I went and told that chap about story of account transfer and checkbook. I gave him address proof. He looked at me with a question mark on his face and asked – why am I submitting address proof? Now that was a shock! I was asked by one employee to submit address proof as part of process and another employee is asking me why am I submitting? Another shock – he verified with other employee too that NO ADDRESS PROOF IS NEEDED TO TRANSFER ACCOUNT.

Fine.

Question: So where is the checkbook? Answer: I need to request for it. Question: How? Answer: Hehe... I need to write one more application on a blank paper :-) I did so and submitted the application. Now I need to meet another guy for internet banking.

Internet Banking
Hurray! Account is configured correctly! I am given a new user id and password to start with. I am determined not to screw up account details this time. I don’t have any more stamina left to visit branch on every single Saturday.

I came home. Logged in. It worked! First thing I did was to add ICICI account information as a payee. I added account information. Now I was asked to enter mobile number for verification. Generally mobile verification is simple. You enter your mobile number, they SMS you with a code. You enter the code and BINGO! You are done! Simple?

Nah. It’s not so simple with SBI :-) I couldn’t complete payee registration as my mobile number was not verified. So how verification should happen? Did you say online thru SMS? LOL! You need to visit branch – once again! This time an online form was provided which I needed to print, fill in and submit to the bank.

4th Branch Visit

Mobile Verification
So once again on Saturday, I went to the bank. Submitted the form. Someone from the bank completed registration process in their software. I was told it’s done. But how? I was told I would receive SMS. Fine. If I can receive SMS, why I had to visit the branch? Why couldn’t I use SMS code to complete the verification process? Why O Why? Again, no answer :-)

I came home. Very happy! At last, all set and done! I logged into SBI. Wanted to check if I could transfer money to ICICI. Here comes last bummer – ICICI account registration process was incomplete because when I registered ICICI account information, my mobile number verification was not completed and without that, I couldn’t add a payee.

But now? I do have mobile number verification completed. But…well..huh.. I have to visit the branch to have this payee information confirmed and registration process completed :-( Do you see me pulling my hair? BOY. This really sucks. I am tired of visiting SBI every Saturday with one issue or another.

5th Branch Visit

Verify Payee Details
It’s been pending for a while. Last weekend I had sprained my ankle and hence couldn’t move. So didn’t go to the bank and this Saturday, I forgot.

Now I sincerely, honestly hope that this will be my last visit to SBI in near future. I rarely visited ICICI bank as I could do almost everything online. In two months, I have visited SBI more number of times then I visited ICICI in a year!

But, I still love this bank. Simply because of the trust, size and being a nationalized bank. Though I may have to visit branch more times, may have to fill in application forms, I still feel my money is lot more secured with SBI then any other private bank.

Pray for me that next visit will be my last visit!

Happy Banking!

© Except image in this post, all rights reserved with Mihir Rawal. To re-print or re-use, prior permission is required from the author.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting. Good luck for the next time.

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