Wednesday, October 14, 2009

first my cards, then my mind.

This is a telephone conversation I had last evening.

Me: Hello.

Extra chirpy lady voice, sounding like she’s just popped acid: Hello. Welcome to ShittyBank. To hear this message in English, please dial 1, to hear it in Hindi, please dial 2.

I press 1.

Acid lady: We have a new menu. Please listen carefully. If you have a savings account with us, please dial 1...

Me: yes, yes.

And I punch 1.

Acid lady: To payments dial 1, for loans dial 2, for blah blah dial 3 and 4, for loss of card dial 5...

I frantically punch 5.

Acid lady: For credit card loss, dial 1. For ATM card loss, dial 2.

I’m torn between 1 and 2. I’ve lost both. Finally I press 1.

First Kenny G plays into my ear. Then another voice tells me this call might be recorded, and then acid lady is back as she talks about home loans and credit cards.

In the mean time I’m having a seizure. Is she connecting me to another machine? Or a person? Or the crime branch?

Finally: Good evening, welcome to ShittyBank. How may I help you?

Me(hysterically relieved): hallelujah, it’s a person. Yes, please help me. I’ve lost my credit card and my ATM card.

Space Cadet: Sure, no problem ma’am. Can you tell me where you lost it?

Silence. What are you, the CID? If I could, would it still be lost?

Me: No, I don’t know where I lost it.

Space Cadet: Okay, can I have your ATM card number.

Me: But I’ve lost it you see.

Space Cadet: Can I have your T-Pin number?

Me: uuuu...I never remember those.

Space cadet: Can I have your thousand digit customer number?

Me: uuuu...not really, don’t remember it.

Space Cadet: Can I have your name?

Me: Yes, sure, it is .......

Space Cadet: Sorry ma’am, can you repeat that?

Me, cursing my parents for the long and complicated name: It is .......

Space Cadet: .......(making up his own version of my name)

Me: No, no, wait I’ll spell it.

I proceed to spell my name. Space Cadet, it dawns on me, is slightly deaf. Though why they would choose that as a qualification in a call centre candidate is beyond me. The only conclusion I reach after ten minutes of playing N for Nagpur and S for Simla is that someone who listens to these recorded conversations is selling them and making millions.

Finally after ten minutes of covering all the godforsaken cities in the country. By the way, I took way too long thinking of O for Ooty. Tip: Keep India map handy while talking to bank.

Space cadet: Thank you Miss.....Now can I have your surname.

Me: Oh no. It’s rather long. M for Manipur and so on and so forth.

Finally, after another ten minutes, we’re done with that.

Space cadet: Your card has been blocked. Anything else I can help you with?

Me: My ATM card.

Space Cadet: For that I’ll have to transfer you to another department.

And before I can protest, acid lady is back.

To cut a very long story short, I called ShittyBank five times that evening. Sometimes Acid Lady would trip me by asking me for T Pins. And when I didn’t punch them in, she would, in a acidic sort of way, say, “This call will be terminated.”

I spoke to four call centre executives. Answered the same questions over and over again. Spelt my name dozens of times. Got disconnected five times. Burst out in tears. Calmed myself by holding the dog and sobbing. Called again.

It took 45 minutes for my cards to be blocked. The confirmation email I was told could take ten minutes to two days to reach me. Why? Are they sending it through a pigeon that they just interned?

However, if you’re still reading this, here’s the icing on the cake:

Me(meekly and on the verge of fresh tears): And I would also like to change my address.

Marbles in her mouth Lady: For that you have to write a letter to our Chennai office or use internet banking.

Me: Letter? To Chennai? As in post? No, I’ll just use the internet banking.

Marbles Lady (gleefully): You should have done it earlier. I just blocked your card, now your internet account is deactivated.

Me (weakly): Which means?

Marble Lady: Letter to Chennai Ma’am.

Even Old Monk could not sooth my shot nerves.

picture @

The King, appropriately belts out All Shook Up for me.


Mohan said...

OMG! I can't imagine the kind of torture and trauma that you might have gone with those call center folks.

Believe me, it is easier to remember those 10 digit account number or 16 number card number rather than having to recall and recite all cities in India!

Sorry to know that you have lost them.. but the fact is, it is a good lesson that you will be more careful in remembering the numbers than losing the cards :) Experience teaches you see....

Atrisa said...

Customer is King? We still haven't come of age. Customer satisfaction is underrated. When I had lost my ATM card, it took me one whole month to get another, so I can totally empathize. Nice read!

The Cloudcutter said...

Poor doggie! Don't hold him and sob like that... it's traumatising!

ShittyBank is the correct name for those fuckers. Thankfully, I never had to bank with them. Aisa-waisa bank is slightly better in that respect.

And don't get me started on those call centre retards. I'm always abusing them and they are always warning me, "Ma'am, please control yourself, this conversation is being recorded."
That just makes me abuse them even more!

I'm sure karma is going to bite me on my ass and I will end up working in a call centre very soon!

slash\\ said...

When the robots are spurting out the dial numbers, i secretly wait for an option that says "To self-destruct this annoying voice, press 7"
And, whatever happened to the other card? you never blocked that one? Or is that another blog story?

Perakath said...

After experiencing this number nonsense with Hairtel customer care a few times, I saved my Account Number in a note on my phone, along with my PAN, bank a/c numbers, hospital card number, passport/dl number etc. It makes life much, much easier and isn't a security risk as long as you keep passwords and PINs away.

I have the same problem with spelling out my name too... Punjab, Elephant, Right, um... Alfred, K for... er... Kakinada, Apple, T for... Timbuktoo... Timbuktoo, it's a place... never mind; T for... tap! Yes, tap! And H for hospital.

Looks like we both need to learn that Air Force lingo: Alpha Bravo Charlie Delta Foxtrot. (Wonder what E is there?)

Ashley said...

Aaargh! So much for empathizing with customers who have lost their cards...

You can have your revenge you know.

I get mine by inquiring about the credit card payment dates, the way of calculating the same, the interest rates, etc etc...I am sorry..I do not understand...Could you repeat...What was that now??..I think I had pressed 03 for English...Now what language are you speaking??... Can I speak to your supervisor??... :D

Yes AGG. I had heard that they have such a thing as "time taken to solve the problem" based on which performance is calculated... ;)

agent green glass said...

@mohan: ha. this is the reason i've not told my mom this. after she calls me a cretin, she will tell me there is a lesson here.

but genuine problem, major dyslexia. for years i had my cell number taped at the back on my phone. when people asked me my number i used to do this flip flop thing with the phone, and give my number.

@atrisa: the customer is to be toyed with and reduced to a quivering wreck! a whole month??? shit, now i'm totally traumatised.

@cloudcutter: ha ha. thank god he didn't bite my nose off. but again, he's better than your karma i hope!

ma'am please control yourself - mmmphhhfff!

@slash: you'll be waiting forever. the swarmy bastards don't even have an option that says press 4 to fart into our ears.
And the other card. that's the one that blocked my internet banking.

but listen to this, this morning they tell me they'll charge me 250 bucks for a new card. so i'm like just forget it, i want to close my accounts. the woman on the other line, smoothly says, " But we can waive off the charges ma'am, since it doesn't suit you."

Doesn't suit you???? Doesn't suit you???????

perakath: you always make me laugh. K for kakinada and T for tap. I did I for Itanagar and the guy kept going, " pardon ma'am, pardon ma'am." Wanted to gift him a swift and hard geography lesson.

And E for Echo. - for people like us!

The knife said...

AAAAAAAAArgh i though I'll surf a bit to destress my mind after an interaction with someone who works in a bank. And then this.

We were abroad recently when we suddenly got updates from our cellphone co about a huge bill. We called them up and found the gestapo interrogation on till we figured out that we were paying ISD rates for it

Anonymous said...

Which reminds me, ShittyBank had better explain why they want me to collect card statements at my earlier residence when I clearly explained them in the most politest of tones that I do not live there anymore.


☥ ѕωαмι ηανєєη said...

Its like they are taking a revenge on all the crack calls people made when this thing started

there was this guy who called his customer care at 1 o clock in the morning and said "still awake? ...get some sleep dude"

Anita :) said... I dint have much work at office..and guess what...I sat and read all the posts you wrote in year 2008! and most of them in 2009! This one is absolutely hilarious way of expressing frustration, dealing with phone banking services. YOU ARE AN AMAZING WRITER and I am a big big big fan!!

oRange* said...

these guys irritate the shit outta u!

Arslan said...

This is like a deja vu! It's been less than two weeks since I lost mine.

Fortunately, I now have got my replacement cards, and that too in Sweden. No, not ShittyBank, it was Shimla Bangalore India (you seriously didn't say I for India?!)..

Divya said...

Reign of the automatons.

This is that said...

I know what you are talking about and sentiments exactly..

Shrinivas said...

he he.. be grateful AGG that he asked you- "where did u lose it?".. i once lost my college id card and when i went to report about it, i was asked- "WHY did YOU lose it???"..
by the way i love reading your posts.. awesome :)

Kaddu said...

That's why my Dad always notes down all this info somewhere for easy access... card nos., account nos., etc.

Btw, Chennai office sounds like it was HDFC ???

gkam said...

I can totally empathize with you. However when my purse was stolen my ATM card was quickly replaced thanks to Lena Bank :P The only efficient thing they have ever done so far.
(I continue to suffer the ATM shut downs, thats a different story altogether.)

Check a similar post here:

ani_aset said...

i'll take a guess..rather i am sure it is ICICI Bank :D