This is a major rant about a Shittybank. But before I go to the most recent ridiculous incident, I should disclose that I have had a colorful history of service complaints against this bank before. And in case you’re wondering where I am coming from, I spent almost my entire professional career in management consulting working with many of the Top 20 banks around the world, tackling the most strategic of Board level issues all the way down to how to make a bank teller more productive. I also worked as a commercial banker for a couple of years prior to that; so let’s just say I am pretty sure I know exactly what I am talking about, banking wise; this isn’t a random jab at a hapless corporate giant. But first let me give you a rundown of the first two incidents with this bank:
Strike 1 : Many years ago, I was using a Shittybank credit card at a local store and they denied a charge I was trying to make. When I called in to ask why, they denied that I had been denied and so on and so forth until what should have been a mole hill turned into Mount Everest. There were no apologies extended and instead there was a patently condescending, somewhat insulting and certainly pedantic tone to their communications with me. In the end, I fired off a highly pointed and probably spot on letter not only to the Indian head of Credit Cards in Manila, but also to the Head of Retail Banking globally at their Head Office. I also furnished a copy of the letter to an old friend (a previous boss), who just so happened to be one of the few executives privileged enough to sit a few short meters from that bank’s CEO’s office in a wonderful American city. I then cut up my Shittybank credit cards and moved my charge business to a rival bank. Not once did they apologize and admit any fault; the letter they wrote eventually was wholly inadequate, in my opinion.
Strike 2: A few years after the card incident (we still maintained a checking account with the bank), the same bank suddenly deposited an obscene, nearly EIGHT figure sum into our checking account one day. I called to tell them they had made a mistake but they insisted that it was our money. I faxed them and called them again, and again they confirmed it was a valid transaction, and several days later they still hadn’t corrected their mistake. I knew they had screwed up, but I wanted to make a very clear and embarrassing point, so I personally went to the bank, walked up to the counter and withdrew the entire amount in cash and deposited it at another bank. I even waved at the security cameras knowing all hell was about to break loose. A few days later, the bank realized they had made a HUGE error by crediting my account and suddenly put a whole phalanx of lawyers to basically threaten/intimidate us to give the money back. You should know that a similar case had occurred two decades before where a foreign bank added several zeros to a deposit of a local client. The client took the money. The bank sued the client. The client won and the bank moved out of the country, down several zeros and legal fees. So I knew that I had a pretty interesting legal footing, especially since I had called the bank twice and faxed them as well to tell them they had made a mistake but they insisted it was not a mistake and that it was my money. Let’s just say that I figuratively had them by the short hairs; to see so many attorneys and account officers alternately being so sugary sweet (first sending food and wine baskets that I refused) and then nasty corporate flunkies afraid their jobs were on the line for this incredible lapse of judgment/systems/controls, etc. was something I should have filmed for a documentary or at least youtube…
Meantime, some friends had told me that this Shittybank was so concerned about liability, litigation, etc. and that all of their officers were basically told never to admit a mistake or guilt or say “sorry” as it could result in a negative legal position. I am not sure if that is true, but it was certainly true that in my previous dealings with them, not a single “sorry” was every offered. So to settle this issue, I asked them to detail how such a massive error could have occurred, lambasted their teller manager for allowing such a huge withdrawal without asking me if anything was amiss, and insisted that their letter of apology include at least several sorry’s in BLACK INK before I would return the money. A bigger bunch of twerps squirming in their own caca I have never experienced before; it was fun, in a warped kind of way. I understand that they fired at least one person over the incident, unfortunately a lower down victim instead of the bosses who were ultimately responsible. I hope I have saved that letter of contrition, apology and multiple sorry’s just in case I finally decide to write a book on how to complain when you get bad service.
Fast Forward to the Present…
A couple of years ago, I needed to get some credit cards for some of my employees, and I agreed to finally, after many, many years, to get another Shittybank Mastercard as they would accommodate several supplementary cards with specified spending limits. So Employee A and B were given a modest limit and in two years they have managed their use brilliantly and safely. A few months ago, one card maxed out and it was rightfully rejected. I was thrilled the limits set in place actually worked. Then yesterday, as I was reviewing last month’s spending, I noticed that employee A had surpassed his credit limit by almost 100% and while the charges were all real, I was surprised Shittybank allowed the limits to be breached by so much.
My first call to them took over 20 minutes in dialing to even get through. Then after explaining to the officer what had happened and asking him to clarify how the limit had been breached, I was put on hold for roughly 15-20 more minutes. Finally, the phone officer, “Ralph” told me that I had never placed lower limits on the card and that Employees A and B were authorized to sign up to 400% or 4x my originally stated limits!!! I countered that I had documentary proof of the lower limits and they better straighten out their story or I would make a stink, and after a few more minutes, they admitted that I had indeed set lower limits and they NOW COULD NOT EXPLAIN how this had happened. Can you imagine if their cards were stolen and a thief charged them up? I would now have a liability that I NEVER authorized to begin with! I told them to call me back within the hour with an explanation.
Within the hour, a more senior credit card officer, called and basically admitted they were at fault, describing it as it was our LAPSE, Sir, we don’t know how this could have happened. When I asked if this could have happened to lots of other unsuspecting card holders, they didn’t know, but if I were you guys, I would check your limits now. At any rate, they admitted that their “maintenance unit” was going to have to explain how this fairly innocuous seeming, but in reality damning glitch, could have occurred. Given their lack of understanding, I insisted that I be patched through to more senior mangers instead of dealing with the folks at the front line. Now, if anything really fires my rear, it is a stupid refusal to give me the contact numbers of the person in charge. I asked for the fax number of the expat manager of the credit cards division and they refused; I eventually got it from a different source and wrote a complaint letter.
Meanwhile, several calls started coming my way, first from “Carl”, a supervisor, apologizing, admitting the mistake (all of this on recorded tape of Shittybank) and then the first attempt to mollify me and put an end to this situation — an offer to waive my annual fees worth PHP2,400 next year. I told them considering that the card was now several times over that amount above the approved limit they would have to get more inventive about their solutions. I didn’t take the PHP2,400 offer and instead I am writing this post, why? Because if I can help even just 100 of my readers to avoid a potentially dangerous and costly situation due to the carelessness, stupidity or LAPSES of this Shittybank then I know my personal good karma account will increase by at least a lot more than that measly amount.
Shittybank has promised me a written apology which has not yet arrived; presumably under the auspices of “Dona”, the customer service head. It has promised me a written explanation of how this glitch occurred. Trust me, I know how some bank operations work and they are ALL sweating bricks now coming up with a credible story of how a specific credit limit could have mysteriously quadrupled without the client’s approval. Could this be another situation like that where the same bank apparently invested high net worth customer money in corporate bonds that WERE NOT approved by the clients that then went bankrupt a few years ago? And that Shittybank lost a related court case???
Moral of the story. Set low limits to your credit cards because if they get stolen, the banks hold YOU liable (see previous post). But then, when you set low limits, remain vigilant that the bank hasn’t WILLY NILLY increased your limits by 400% so that the original limits are useless and if your cards are stolen then you will be liable for more than 4x what you had already bargained for! This is crap. Total crap. If I were Supreme Dictator, I would come up with several appropriate punishments for this outlandish and unacceptable corporate behavior. Frankly, I would start by frying a few folks in gurgling lard. As for being so honest and returning the nearly EIGHT FIGURE AMOUNT several years ago, maybe I should have hung onto it for twenty years while a court case progressed (and I could have possibly won it!) if only to give this Shittybank a fraction of the irritation they are currently causing Marketman!
P.S. If you happen to work for Shittybank Manila, kindly forward this post to the head of Credit Cards, as no one seems able to give me his email address… Thanks.