It is with disgust that I write about the customer service of financial institutes of Sri Lanka. Customer service is an illusion that is limited to alluring words for media publicity for these institutes. When I read of achievements, records and awards some of these institutes claim to boast of, I am made to laugh and cry at the same time. Who judges these institutes in their performance? Do they ever conduct surveys on their valuable customers to assess their performance excellence?
I present my below experience for the ‘elite appraisal bodies’ to give a thought before they adjudge any awards and merits for these organisations
My husband passed away at a relatively young age where we had not dreamt of a separation. Hence there were many gaps that needed to be filled by us in an adverse atmosphere. When I contacted these institutes to cease my husband’s accounts, little did I know that I was exposing myself for a series of nightmares. My misery still continues though it is six months now. I have listed the following common issues I faced.
When opening accounts the institutes rarely gather information about the next of kin or nominees, but when it comes to funds of a deceased, it is a different atmosphere.
None of these institutes had a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to handle a deceased case. Hence they failed in clarity on what documents they needed. I had to submit documents in instalments over the last five months as they kept adding each time I called. It added more burden to me as I had to get each of these documents attested by a JP, GN and at times the DS.
The customer service staff had very little knowledge on the procedures. They were limited in their vocabulary. They may be well versed on the FAQs, and nothing beyond.
Communication with the client never existed. It was I who had to call them to check on the progress and the result was that I had to make another visit to gather information for my next step. The worst was it is only when I call that they gave me news about a new document I had to submit. As such for me to provide the entire set of required legal documents I had to waste over 16 weeks. Having given them my contact details including my street address, mobile/landline number and email address, they failed to contact me to instruct.
Inter-department communication was nil. I was made to feel that the head office, branch offices, the Legal Department and Recoveries Departments worked in isolation. In some instances I did not even know in which department my documents were lying dormant. I was pushed from one department to another to trace my documents. But the Recoveries Departments kept calling me frequently to remind me of the payments of credit cards.
Networking between the branches was a farce. I had to submit documents to each of the branches my husband had accounts. Some banks blocked credits to the accounts but the debits were honoured. I even had an insurance company inventing a mystery car which led to a controversial trail of communication.
All in all I was made to feel that my husband’s demise was a pilot project for these institutes. I still have questions about the credibility of the information they have provided regarding funds.
I was fortunate to have soul-binding friends who ventured out on my behalf to solve mysteries and controversies that these institutes created for hapless me. They were on call 24X7 and compassionate and professional help me in my need. I being subjected to untold hardships, at one point I thought of giving up on my struggle (I am a woman literate and trilingual. If I could be treated in this manner, I fear to fathom the plight of a widow otherwise?)
In my understanding it would have been easier for to clear my name from the Panama Papers (if I were that rich) than get information deleted from the SL databases.
Even at this moment before me are two renewed credit cards for my husband which I received this week. This means his accounts are still active in some banks. I will leave it as it as I do not want to waste time on mundane acts. If I should be prosecuted for violating a monetary regulation, so be it!
Dear professionals, I may have narrated my woes to your good offices a hundred times or more for service. My voice may have been mere syllables to you. But remember it was my wounded soul that you chose to torture for no crime of mine.