Monday, May 14, 2007

End of an era

Long time ago, my Dad opened my very own bank account at a small branch of a centralised bank near my house. The bank catered to the small village like township where I live, on the outskirts of Bangalore. My first deposits were money given on birthdays, my First Holy Communion, Confirmation, pocket money savings etc. I felt so proud the day I opened my account.

When I started working in ad agencies during weekend, my bank account started taking on a respectable look. The first time it touched 10 K I nearly swooned. I felt rich!!!! ( of course it took a year to save that) I was walking on air and showed by passbook to everyone and sundry.

Times have passed. Now I bank with a MNC Bank as my salary gets credited directly into my account. My bank pays my phone bills, insurance premium, credit cards bills automatically. I make direct money transfers instead of writing cheques and always getting my signature wrong (:p)

Today I went to my old bank to close my account. It’s been years since I stepped in here. The squalor of the place hit me first, then the crowd and then the noise. Most of the old staff had taken VRS and left. Strange faces looked at me bored.

I told the lady behind the counter that I wanted to close my account. She looked at me accusingly and I felt that old familiar feeling when I had gone to close my BSNL account...guilt. The staff at BSNL made me feel like a Capitalist that had endangered their jobs. The eyes looked at me accusingly and then she told me to give a letter requesting the Bank Manager to close the account. I had already taken the letter. She looked disappointed. She then told me to get it endorsed by the Bank Manager.

The Manager looked at me up and down like a school Principal and wanted to know why I wished to close the account. I told her that I already had another account and did not wish to keep this one. She checked my account and turned around and said that there was quite a decent sum in my account and I should make it a fixed deposit. I told her politely that I had already made investments for this year and would she please close my account. "I am against closing an account " she said as though it was her discretion to close my account or not. I felt like a student back in the Principals office as I stood next to her desk. She finally approved the closure in the PC on her desk and returned the letter to me.

I was back to the lady who now asked me if I had a cheque book. I replied in the affirmative. Seizing the chance, she immediately returned the letter to me asking me to come back with the cheque book. Pushing the letter back I told her evenly that the cheque book had no leaves left. She looked disappointed and irritated. She checked my account in her system and barked " There is too much money in here. I cant give you cash, It will have to be a DD. It will take time. Please wait!!!"
I told her I will be back as I stayed close by. The smug expression vanished as she realised that she would not get the satisfaction of seeing me sit and wait. Then a brainwave struck her. "Do you have a Credit Card?" she asked. I replied in the affirmative. "Well you will have to come with your credit and a letter stating that you are cancelling the same and then we will close the account. Please come on Monday" she said dismissively. I took out the Credit Card from my wallet and handed it over to her. She hid her disappointment well. She pointed to a man on the table next to her and asked me to surrender the card to him with a letter.

I walked upto the credit card cancelling man and handed over my Credit Card. Before he could say anything I asked him for a piece of paper. He gave me a computer printout sheet. I asked him for a pen. He looked at his pen and said that he cannot give me the pen so I can go home, write the letter and come back. I turned around and asked the man sitting on the table behind me if he could lend me a pen. He gave me one while credit card cancelling man looked at him daggers. I wrote a letter cancelling my Credit Card and gave it to Mr Credit Card Cancelling Man. If looks could kill then my last post would have been my last post. Mr Credit Card Cancelling Man picks up the phone and calls the Head Credit Card Cancelling Man and gets the disappointing news that I had no dues. He grumbles and cancels my card on the system.

I was back with the lady now who had by now lost the will to fight. She tells me that I could withdraw any amount of money I wanted. I clean out my account and walk out of the bank with a sigh of relief. I am glad I will never have to come in here again and feel like a third class citizen!

As I walk out I can hear the manager’s voice in my head "Why do you want to close your account?" If she doesn’t know why, then it is no point telling her is it?


Neihal said...

"If looks could kill then my last post would have been my last post."
" Mr Credit Card Cancelling Man"

My dad made me open an account when I turned 18, now I dont use it, it is a state bank, I dont live there, but I just cant get myself to close it, but the bank ppl are really nice, as in very effecient, so till date they have never given me any trouble, infact they have sent me all my statements as and when and where I asked them. I guess that is the difference.

shruti said...

hmm ...brought back memories of my first account in the bank next to my house - United bank of inda lake gardens branch .. the place where I spent 24 years of my life and which I can now faintly recollect !! Yes i always used to get my signature wrong too ... coincidence ? ... Its a viscious circle girl and the gap is widening each day . A thought that is appaling because extremes are always bad and according to me spell doom!

Alexis said...

I opened my first bank account when I got my first job. I used to clear the account on the day the salary was credited so that I didn't have to go there till the next month :-)

Before that, I never had anything to save so there was no need for a savings account. During my childhood, the concept of pocket money never existed :-(

Jeseem said...

sadly the service sucks in india. some of the service people are still stuck in the old age. and they blame the new generation of banks for their fall. wake up people.

getting your signature wrong, how can u ? i never get mine wrong. mine is 2 lines horizontal and 2 lines vertical. and then scribbles in middle. the scribbles can be anyway. so :)
only smtimes people mistake it for smone having scratching the pen to get the ink out instead of signature. :(

Jiby said...

lol...i share ur feelings...all that paper work wud drive anyone crazy! but my friends working in icici and hsbc are going crazy with working late hours thanks to the surge of young customers they are now picking up.

remembered the days in school and college when i used to be delegated a lot of the banking responsibility at home...i used to be courteous and stand in long lines, wait for staff, etc, etc and my dad wud fret and fume at me for not being pushy and not using his name to get preferential treatment.

your post reminds me i have an account to close down...will go nowhere near there now...need to find a bakra to do the dirty work!

mathew said...

aah..same here..
just like the concept of banking was in the beginning more like a service to consumers to keep their money safe..they still retain the same old style..somehow they forget that the consumer is the king these days....

well i dont have such high opinion about some private banks too...

alex said...

That indeed is a sad state of affairs!

On the lighter side, it appears funny.

Well, i empty the cash and leave the bank account hoping they will close it when it is kept in disuse without any money in it. :)

Annie said...

I had quite an ordeal too while returning my BSNL connection! SBI is improving in service but I prefer Citi anyday!

G said...


Reminds me of the time I turned 18 and I was marched to the bank by my Mum and opened the account with the then princely sum of 500 bucks! I think cable TV still hadn't made an appearance in this country, nor had computerised banking. Passbooks were upated by hand. Tokens used to be issued. It took anywhere from 10 minutes to a half hour to get cash. The Internet did not exist. Thats how far back we go!

The bank is 2 minutes away from my parents house. My Dad banks there, so does my Mum. So do my aunts and uncles. And my 2 brothers who live in the US still have operational accounts. I think I last peeped into that account 10 years ago. There was 1500 bucks still in there. It's still there, don't have the heart to shut it down. I go to the bank to get my parents banking sorted. Some of the clerks there have seen me grow up. I don't think I can close this account ever!