Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Travails of Banking

I had to go to the bank today to withdraw some money. Now I really hate going to the bank. Perhaps "hate" is a strong word to describe my feelings. Maybe "detest intensely" might work better.

Alright, so I intensely detest having to go to the bank for anything. When I first moved back home, my first choice of bank to open an account with was GTB. However, as I considered the lack of parking spaces in most of the GTB branches on the island, I decided to look around for a bank that had ample parking spaces. I would not recommend using this as a criteria for selecting a bank, by the way, but it worked for me back then. Or so I thought.

I chose Standard Trust, which was near my home and had a lovely wide open space in front of its premises. It also had very few customers (either a very bad sign or an indication that the staff were deathly efficient), a fact attested to by the near-empty banking hall. Great! A bank where I won't have to hover around looking for somewhere to park and where I will be attended to quickly. What more could one ask for in a bank?

Well, unfortunately for me, Standard Trust became subsumed into United Bank for Africa (UBA), a behemoth of a bank that lumbers along in much the same fashion that you would expect of such a big (and old) organisation. Efficiency does not appear to be a watchword of the bank with simple processes taking forever (I just received my e-banking log-on details after first signing-up for it a year ago).

I've since opened an account with a much newer and efficient bank, but still retain my UBA account. So I still have cause to go to UBA from time to time - albeit as infrequently as I can manage it. So I got there this morning at 8AM so that I could do my business as quickly as possible and leave. I met some fellow customers waiting for the opening of the iron grill. Minutes passed but yet we continued to wait. More customers arrived and hissed loudly on seeing the still shut bank. Some more came and decided to wait outside in the early morning sunshine or in their cars.

"Ah, but it's past 8 now!" one woman exclaimed in dismay.

FINALLY, the UBA staff deigned to open their doors. We heard the keys jingling in the lock and the grill was pulled up. As we trooped in, one of the customers muttered "This is the WRONG bank!". At times like this, I could not agree more. When I asked one of the ladies behind the counter why it took so long for the bank to open, she just smiled in that coy way that people will do when they have absolutely no excuses. I told her that the street was filled with banks and we could just as easily go off to one of their competitors.

"We are very sorry. We will attend to you shortly. We are just getting the money." She gestured to a corner table from where the cashiers fork-lifting arm-loads of tightly-bound wads of cash.

And would you believe that after all that, as another cashier attended to me he looked up at me and apologised that my withdrawal was taking a little while. "Our system is slow."

Lord have mercy! This is truly the WRONG bank.


Anonymous said...

My Goodness, I pity your plight, one thing in general I have noticed is that we seem not to grasp or understand this concept of good customer service. This filters through from management to foot soldiers. Somebody somewhere needs to wake people up and explain the repercussions of the apathy which which we treat clients. We do not need to reinvent the wheel, just plain simple copying what works as is practised in more mordern nations. Our orientation about a lot of things need to change- one could write an encyclopaedia.


laspapi said...

Standard Trust seemed to function properly before merging with UBA. UBA still carries all those cashiers whom you'd find eating rice and trading behind the counters in the "old days". They just gave them new offices. I've been unfortunate enough to attempt deposits there and I think the members of staff are a horrible lot.

uknaija said...

Ah UBA, my bank of before...of the long sweaty queues and nonchalant gum-chewing cashiers permanently sneering at the customers. It's good to know that there are some things even Soludonomics and recapitalization cannot change :-)

naijacutie said...

only in online banking safe out there?

Ore said...

naijacutie, I check my balances online. There aren't too many services offered online though and customers still need to go to their bank to complete certain transactions.

laspapi, lol! I know what you mean.

uknaija, oh how I wish there were some things that would change.