Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Worst Bank in the World

When my dad worked at the erstwhile IDBI before it became IDBI Bank, their rival ICICI was always looked up on with awe and grudging admiration. They cut through the bureaucratic red tape so prevalent back in the day and seemed to have the moxie to make commercial banking work. Then they morphed into a retail bank and so did IDBI. ICICI Bank managed the transitioned well, much better than IDBI- and it came as no surprise. IDBI, once the giant among development banks had to learn humbly how to begin anew in the new world of competitive retail banking.

Early in the noughts my dad urged me to get an account with the new IDBI Bank. I got one with ICICI Bank instead simply due to its proximity to where I was in India at the time. I had just come to India for a short visit, and though I could not go wrong with my choice.

Suffice it to say, that was the last time I had any respect for ICICI Bank. Forget the rumors (which may have a ring of truth to them) about burly collection agents arm twisting people to pay their dues.

I've had people lie to me about investment products, and deny me pay-out, which I needed to escalate to their CEO to get it resolved.

Their most annoying problem for Non-Resident Indians is the fact that they let you do 'internet banking' only if your ATM Card 'grid number' on its back is used for authentication. The ATM Card is invalid if it is not used in 3 months which most non-residents will not use in countries where they live.

And now, no service that should be transacted online is open to me. Given that the Indian government has decreed that PAN numbers should be updated (or Form 60s in lieu of them) before one could use banking services, people are scrambling to update these. And sure enough ICICI will not let you do this without the authentication 'Grid Card' number, which in my case is useless. To top it off, they have frozen my account which can only be opened if I update the Form 60! Classic Catch 22.

By far, the worst banking experience I have come across, even counting the nationalized banks of my youth.

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