The music/loan-sale/importance reminder routine came to an abrupt end. The sound of the phone ringing at the other end, the fruit of all my hard work, rudely shook me out of my reverie on how I would accomplish the second and more treacherous part of my mission. The machine had been won over, now it is the turn of the human. (To know how this was accomplished, read Part 1. Click)
Voice with a slight Bengali accent (VBA): Hello, welcome to Aisi-Waisi bank, this is <insert non-anglicised Indian name>, how can I help you?
Me: “Hi, my name is Vinod, and..
VBA: Hallo.. Yes sir, please tell me?
Me: “Hello, ya. my name is Vinod and there is a problem with an entry in my statement.”
VBA: Sure sir, please provide me your credit card number?
Me: But I have already entered it.
V: Sir, you need to repeat it again. (*Repeat it again* – #IndianEnglish Fail) It is for security purpose.”
Me: “Ok. it is 5432001982267819.”
V: “Thank you sir, can I have your date of birth for verification purposes?”
Me: (I know, I know. My security.) It is <Enter date of birth here>
V: Am I speaking to Binod Bada…k..aka..badakk..ada……????
Me: Yeah, you are. Vinod.
V: “Thank you for the verification, Mr… uh, may I call you Binod, Sir?
Me: Sure. Vinod. (Call me whatever you want, this is India. No surname fixation as in the west)
V: So how can I help you, Mr. Binod?”
Me: (*sigh*) “See, there is an entry for Rs.663 on my statement under “EMIs”. I had an installment scheme which got over last March. And you keep on adding that 663 to my total outstanding every month! Why? You should not be charging me monthly once the EMI is over, no?”
N: “See sir, you have to clear your entire outstanding every month. Otherwise interest will be charged. That is why you are being charged.”
Me: “???? Eh? Huh? What? I know that. But that is not the answer to what I asked. I am asking you adding 663 to my total outstanding every month?”
N: “No sir, as I told you, if you don’t clear the outstanding every month, all purchases including EMI will be added to the outstanding. Also, we will charge interest. But you are not being charge a single pie interest for EMI”
Me: *Threat level raised from yellow to orange* “No no, you are not getting it! It is NOT about interest! It is about… Ok. Let me put it this way. I had taken a purchase on EMI. The EMI was Rs.663 every month. Last installment was due in March, it appeared in the statement and was paid, right? So the EMI is done. Over. Finished. Fertig. Khatam. Kazhinju. Mudinju. But you are still charging me the EMI amount every month. Got it???
V: “Uh.. Well, yes, but…”
Me: “And the last installment amount is still reflecting in the column, and I am paying for it every month! You are adding it to the total amount every month! It is like you are still charging me for the EMI! If you look at last months closing balance and this month’s opening balance, there is a difference of Rs.663. Why is that??”
V: “Sir, you are not being charged single pie interest for that Rs.663 because it is on EMI. Only on the total amount interest was charged sir.”
Me: *Sees Red, alarm bells ringing* “Come on, It is NOT about any interest! Why are you so hung up on interest and talking like a recorded voice??! Please answer my question!!!”
V: *Sounding like Jack Nicholson* “Sir, getting angry will not solve anything.”
Me: *Steam blowing through ears* “Yes, yes, I know. But answer my damn question!!! I am being charged every month for an EMI scheme that had ended 6 months ago!!”
V: “Sir, may I put you on hold? I need to check this.”
Me: *Holding myself back with great restraint from throwing the phone at the wall* “Yeah! Sure!!”
More damn music plays. Mozart, I now hate you, only because of these… After a couple of minutes:
V: “Sorry for putting you on hold, but sir, unless you pay off your entire outstanding you will be charged interest, but for the amount of Rs.663 you are not being charged a single pie interest, sir. You need to pay the Rs.663 and then it will be removed.”
Me: “AAARRRGGHHHH!! What the??? What.. I..!!!” *Stomps around, flays arms, punches a wall, winces in pain* “Ok. I.. I.. You win. I can’t get anymore angry. What.. Can you explain that?
V: “No sir, see, the EMI will be added to the total outstanding every month, but only if you pay off the entire amount other than the EMI will the EMI amount be reduced and removed and we will charge interest for the purchases but we will not charge interest for the EMI amount, that is appearing there because you did not pay the total outstanding, sir. Did you pay all the outstanding amount sir?”
Me: *Feeling a little Dizzy* “Er, uh, what? Yes. No. Uh, I mean I dont know. Can you..???” (If you can’t convince them, confuse them!)
V: “Well, sir, you will be charged till you make the entire payment. But you will not be charged a single pie EMI on that Rs.663 because it is EMI sir. Yes Sir.”
Me: *Breaks down, almost in tears* Asks in a small voice: “But, but.. This is not fair.. I.. Why.. How.. Why am I.. Ok, I give up :( (To self, sounding like Jim Carrey “Why, oh God, why? Where are you? Show me a sign!“) #FML
V: “You have to pay the outstanding, sir.”
Me: “You mean to say you will continue to charge me for the EMI that ended six months ago till I make the outstanding payment? So instead of paying for 6 installments, I have paid for 12 installments and there is no damn thing I can do about it????”
V: “Yes.. But there is no interest charge on that sir. No a single pie.”
Me: “Say ‘single pie’ once more, and I will personally come over and shove that pie down your throat! Now, I want that on mail that you are charging me for an EMI that got over six months ago”
V: “Sorry sir, that option is not available, you will have to write an email to email@example.com”
Me: “Whatever. *helpless, defeated, destroyed and frustrated* Thanks for nothing!”
V: “Thank you for calli…”
I Disconnect the call and slam the phone on my desk. Panel comes off the mobile handset. This is why I prefer to make customer care calls from the landline, becuase of the slamming down part. Unfortunately, today I could not.
I failed in my mission. As I always do. Neither could I know why I was charged that EMI amount even after the scheme got over, nor could I get my money back. (I got an unconfirmed hint that I will be charged for the EMI till my outstanding is paid, but that does not make any sense, does it?) Lesson learnt: You *CANNOT* defeat all three together: the machine, the human drone attending the call and the bank and it’s ever chaging policies described by: ‘as we see fit’, ‘take it or get lost’, ‘we don’t give a shit’, ‘screw you, we want to make money’ and so on. It is a fact, accept it.
Customer support was originally meant to make life for the customer easier, but nowadays the entire process has become such a life-energy sucking mess that I believe for each minute you spend on these calls, you lose 5 minutes from your life-time.
Most of customer support systems today are just information systems dishing out info about my account that I already know, and I call customer support to get get my issue resolved, not pay money to telecom companies to hear what I already know! I would safely assume that 90% of people use the IVR just trying to find the number to press to talk to a representative. Companies tend to go overboard with all the innovation, trying to design that perfect system but tend to forget the basics: Customers do not want any of all this pointless innovation with menus and sub menus, they just want to get their problems resolved! This unending quest at designing the perfect ‘customer support’ system will only make the entire thing more complicated and messy until the day dawns when they realize that they should get people to talk to people. Unfortunately, that day will never dawn. Another question is, the people who ‘innovated’ these systems, do they ever use it? Guess no.
On another note, I think the next level of innovation should be something like this “To get support regarding our customer support system, press 3″. Yeah, support for customer-support. Wait for your life to be more messed up than it already is!
Disclaimer: Again, there is no such credit card number as shown, but the incident was vaguely similair to the one described here. However, no mentions on the bank name is to be taken.