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?