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?


Author: Sanjay Shah

Sanjay is the author of "Business Management Simplified" which provides Practical, Actionable Solutions for Entrepreneurs. It is an all-in-one guidebook to start, run and grow a small and mid-size business to the next level. He is also an SME Business Coach, Seminar Leader and Motivational/Keynote speaker, Sanjay is based in Mumbai (India). He advises many businesses on Strategy, Leadership, Marketing, Branding, Customer Experience Management and Organization Development. He conducts various self-help seminars and workshops for companies and groups in English, Hindi and Gujarati. For more info, visit :

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