This is how HDFC is harassing its customers through their Relationship Managers

Relationship Managers are ideally employed to improve customer relationships. But badly designed customer relationship initiatives and poor follow-up by their superiors result into these ornamental positions causing more annoyance and harassment to the customers than helping them. HDFC Bank has such RMs, who reduce value instead of adding to the customer’s experience. The only focus these RMs appear to have is to convince the Preferred Customers for buying some or the other product of HDFC Bank. This is more of customer exploitation than relationship building. Here is how they reduce value :
1) They unpleasantly surprise the customer
Modus operandi : First send the charged Credit/Debit card to the customer and then force the customer to ask why it came?

a) On 12 July 2014, I received an SMS which says that “Please keep information regarding your credit card no. ending with 2878 confidential.”
This surprised me because I did not have any card ending with that number.
b) Next day, on 13 July 2014, I received another SMS saying “Your credit card ending with 2878 is being sent you by xyz courier.”
c) I called the helpline number to find out what is this about and I was told “Your RM has requested an upgrade of the card.”
d) I complained with that Customer Care executive and I was told they will look into the matter. No update is received from HDFC Bank about this complaint till 20.07.2014.
e) I contacted the RM (Mr Rudolph) at HDFC, Malad-East and asked him about why I am being sent the new card. He said “It is automatically upgraded by the system for selected Preferred Customers.” He meant that only special customers are given this privilege. He did not mention anything about the charges.

2) They keep the customer in the dark
a) When the new card came by courier on 16.07.2014, no intimation was given about the status of the existing (old) card and how long it will remain valid. I had to ask the helpline number to find that it will be valid for two months from the date it is sent to you.

b) My current card is branded as “Signature” card. I could not find the details of that card on the , so I asked the customer care person who took 10 minutes to find out the annual charges amount (may be it is phased out). What is the point of giving a customer a card valid till 2016, if you are not able to provide basis information about the card through your web site or customer care as soon as new types of cards are introduced?

3) They hide the Credit/Debit Card charges from the customers
a) On checking the new Credit card charges, I found that it has an annual fee of Rs.2499 (unless I spend 3.5L in a year through that card). This is not communicated to me before sending the card by anybody.
On asking the helpline on 20.07.2014 (Ms Kavita, Conversation reference number : 14201872674) she told me :

“You have given the consent to the RM and we have confirmed the same by sending you the SMS on 22.06.2014 which reads ‘Dear Customer, Limit Increase & Upgrade on your HDFC Bank Credit Card will be done basis your consent given to RM. Sms NOLEUPG to 5676712 if you are not interested.’”

b) Same has happened with my Debit Card on my HUF account. That card also came without my consent or request and now I found that they have charged Rs.224.72 during 2013-14 as charges on the Debit Card which I have not used at all, neither did I ask for it.

4) They manipulate the customer

a) The above mentioned SMS is assuming consent if the customer does not respond. Whereas the default answer should be taken as No, if it seen from a customer-friendly view point.
b) It does not say anything about the additional charges the upgrade will entail. But still, it is being used as a proof of consent.
c) How can a customer know that the “Upgrade” is going to cost him more?
This is nothing short of manipulation and unfair trade practices.
5) They unnecessarily harass the customer
a) The card upgrade was not initiated by me. I have not consented for the upgrade. They have gone ahead and sought a self-confirmation. I had to ask the customer care twice to find out what is this all about. The second conversation took 35 minutes…!
b) On asking how can I cancel this card, I was told by Ms Kavita “You write a cover letter, cut the card and drop it in the box.”
Why should a customer go through all this, for something that he has not initiated at all?
Why this all harassment?

6) The Relationship Managers are only interested in asking new accounts from customers
When I met Mr Rudolph on 14.07.2014 at branch office, to convey my grievances, he was more interested in getting new accounts from me. He assured me about HUF Debit Card charges reversal, but no update from anybody since then.

Is this how they are supposed to manage and improve customer relationships?


हम कस्टमर के अनुभव को कैसे बरबाद करते है?

पर्यावरण को खराब होता बचाने के लिए Green Initiative के अनुसार हर बार Printed Statement न भेजना पडे इस लिए HDFC Bank ने हमारे बेन्क एकाउन्ट का पासबूक भेजा, ताकि जब जरुरत हो तब हम उसे Update करा सकें | इस से बैंक का स्टेशनरी और courier खर्चा कम होगा |

स्वीकार्य है |

लेकिन जब पासबूक नया छापा है, कस्टमर के नाम-अड्रेस छापे हैं, तो उस में अभी की current balance भी तो छप ही सकती थी ना? आज तक की बेलेन्स उसी कोम्प्युटर में से उसे छापना है जहां से यह पासबूक छपी है और उसका कोइ अलग खर्च भी नहीं होनेवाला है | फिर भी बैंक ने plain passbook भेज दिया है | अब पहली बार उस में entry कराने के लिए बैंक के लाखों ग्राहकोंको ब्रान्च में जाना पडेगा |

अगर HDFC Bank ने कस्टमर के Reference से सोचा होता, तो उसने पासबूक का पहला पेज current balance को छापकर ही भेजा होता | एक छोटी सी लापरवाही लाखों कस्टमर के लाखों घंटों का समय-शक्ति बरबाद कर देती है |

हमें हमेशा अपने कस्टमर की सुविधा का विचार करना चाहिए | अगर हमारा हर कर्मचारी, हमारा हर डीपार्टमेन्ट की सोच के केन्द्र में कस्टमर का खयाल करना स्थापित हो, तो ऐसी बिना सोच-समज के Decisions नहीं लिए जाएंगे |

अगर हम वैसा नहीं कर पाये तो कस्टमर की नाराज़गी स्वाभाविक है |

No, HDFC Bank, you don’t understand our World…

Here are some consumer insights which may help you to lend meaning to your tagline : “We understand your world”.

1) In our world, when we call up the branch (at given number in the passbook), we expect some human being to speak to us. Not a AVRS taking us through a range of meaningless options and then leading nowhere.

2) If you decide to send us the passbook and print it, we expected it to print the initial pages with the current balance also. Why do you expect us to go to the bank for getting it updated for the first time, when the data is already there in your system when you printed our passbook? Think logically, marketing guys…!

3) In our real world, we don’t carry HUF debit card (because we said we did not want it, in the first place), even if it comes FREE. You send us a FREE debit card and then you force us to enter Debit card and its PIN number in various transactions which could have been designed some other way.

4) In real world, we don’t carry following things, all together :

  • Bank Account Number
  • Your Customer ID (TWO in case of HUF)
  • Your NetBanking Password
  • Your TPIN (Phone Banking PIN)
  • Your Debit Card Number
  • Your Debit Card ATM PIN number

No we dont’t.

5) In our real world, when we go to our bank to deposit cash, the Receiving Cashier does not treat us as if we are the reason for her Bad Hair Day, and angrily ask us to provide “Source” for a deposit of few thousand rupees. It could be a formality, but your Cashiers could behave a little more friendly, if you really Understood Our World.

6) In our real world in our Credit Card statements, the name that we should write on cheques for Credit Card payment should be written in normal sized letters. Currently, you can’t read it with Magnifying glass also.

7) The space for writing name in your Deposit Slips is illogically less. In our real world, this space should be bigger.

8) When we are sold the Credit Card, the bank RM and some other sales people follow up a lot, but after that, for making payment for the same Credit Card, the branch does not have much support other than a drop box to drop cheques. Any grievance, concern regarding the Credit Card has to be handled by the customer himself/herself. In real world, the customer is same when you sold him the card and after that. You may turn your back towards him, but he does not forget that.

This is how HDFC Bank makes it impossible to work with them?

I have been a fan of HDFC Bank, but recently, the services and their operating processes are going from bad to worse.

Some examples of their illogical ways of working :

1) They changed Relationship Manager, without the customer knowing. It is only when the customer calls the old RM, he is told that now somebody else is your RM.

2) You are forced to use NetBanking. For activating NetBanking for my HUF account required me to go to Bank branch 3 times, every time RM telling new things (which he never told earlier). My experience with RM Abhishek Utekar has not been very good at Malad-East branch, he was never concerned about the customer’s problems.

3) The NetBanking password which comes in a very Private and Confidential does not have the word HUF written anywhere on the letter. It is common sense that an Individual account and an HUF account have rest of the things common. So, the word HUF is most important in the communication. But, common sense is not common in HDFC Bank.

4) You are given a CustomerID for accessing NetBanking. You try accessing it and you will be thrown back by the system citing invalid ID. You are told by RM that for HUF accounts, the CustomerID to be entered is the next sequential number coming after your CustomerID. (Now unless a customer dreams about this, this is never communicated by HDFC Bank, formally. I believe the think that the customer will dream their weird processes.)

5) Their new Passbook has the “Branch Tel No. : 022-61606161″. You call it up and it will take you through elaborate instructions, finally asking you your CustomerID, your TPIN number, etc. etc. You think you are calling up the branch, but you end up calling some Call Centre somewhere. How funny?

6) After somehow getting the correct CusomterID and password, you login but to discover that ‘Your NetBanking has been disabled.” There is a link to enable it, but does not work (I am not surprised now.)

7) I have understood that HDFC Bank believes that you carry your following things always with you (even when you are in some emergency), so that you can bank with them (SMOOTHLY…!!!) :

  • Bank Account Number
  • Your Customer ID
  • Your NetBanking Password
  • Your TPIN (Telephone Banking PIN)
  • Your Debit Card Number
  • Your Debit Card ATM PIN number

8) So much to support HDFC Bank’s tagline : “We understand your world.”

Do you, HDFC Bank?




Here is why HDFC Bank is doing better

Because they serve their customers very well. In contrast to that, the service at Nationalized banks is nothing to be proud of.

Last Monday, I had first hand experience of the indifferent and non-cooperative attitude of Bank Of India, a nationalized bank, and caring and helpful approach of HDFC Bank employees.

We had reached at Vidyanagari Branch (Pune)  of Bank Of India at 2.29 to make fees payment. The shutter was being closed and the person doing that violently told us to go away. On request, he had to say “Time is till 2.30. All have already left for lunch. Go to Swargate branch if you want to make the payment.”

The Swargate branch, two kilometers away, had lunch time from 2.30 to 3.00 pm. When reopened, they refused to accept DD, as they did not know how to process the DD payment of fees. Finally, after a lot of convincing, they relented. But, immediately, the lady at the counter discovered that my DD (issued by HDFC Bank, Malad-East branch) had no signature…! This could be happening in one of the million cases, but then it did happen with us…! She sent me back, rudely saying “Pehle DD pe sign lekar aao… Our bank closes at 4 pm”.

Shocked, I called up Mr Ronak Parekh, my relationship manager at HDFC Bank. He was also shocked to know that the DD had no sign. He assured me that it will be sorted out soon, and told me to go to any nearby HDFC Bank branch saying they will authorize and sign it. I reached HDFC Bank’s Sahkar Nagar branch at 3.35 pm and informed them about the DD without sign. The person told me to wait for 10 minutes till he gets e-mail confirmation from my RM. I told him I did not have that much time. He promptly got up and went to his manager, Mr Sunil Bagade. The manager called up the RM, took his employee number, instructed him to send the email and signed the cheque. I was out in 3 minutes, flat…! I could reach Bank Of India well before the closing time of 4 pm.

It was only due to the prompt service of the branch manager Mr Sunil Bagade, that saved one full day for us. As long as people like him are there, HDFC will keep its customers happy in spite of some human error of unsigned DDs slipping out of the system. Such positive gestures can turn the errors into an opportunity to delight the customers. This is why private banks are scoring over public ones.

We all should try to ensure that all our employees are empowered and motivated enough  to give such caring and prompt service to our customers.