Wednesday, 11 February 2009

To whom it may concern

This letter is long overdue:

Dear Ecobank,

I feel I have so much to write to you and I wonder how I'll fit it all in one letter. What has finally prompted me to write was my experience last week when I needed to cash a dollar cheque. I went into the Oxford Street branch and went to the foreign transactions counter. There, I met a sign that said foreign transactions will be handled upstairs. I went upstairs and waited in line for a few minutes. When it got to my turn, the usual foreign transaction lady shook her head and said "our system is down, oh". Since I had been waiting, I assumed it had just gone down and asked how long I'd have to wait. I was informed it had been down all morning (this was at 11:30) and she hadn't been able to handle any transactions. So why had I been made to wait. In fact, why had I been made to walk up the stairs in the first place???

In the end I had to drive to the Head Office branch at Ridge (as usual) to get the cheque cashed. Then on Saturday, I needed to cash a cedi cheque. Thinking I was being smart, I drove straight to Ridge which of course was closed. Drove back to Oxford Street and stood in a line of approximately 9 people. When the person who was two ahead of me was about to be served, a man came out of the blue and jumped in front and got served before her. Admittedly, she could have said something, but so could your staff member who agreed to serve the rude man. (At my own bank, HFC, the staff will always inform queue jumpers of where the queue actually starts).

By the time I was being attended to, I had waited 37 minutes. Do you consider that a reasonable waiting period? (to be honest, I was impressed as I have waited even longer in the past). This week, my husband was informed that the Letters of Credit he went to establish last week had not been processed, for no reason whatsoever. These L/Cs are based on his own money, not from any credit from your bank. Do you realise the consequences this has on business when we inform our international suppliers that we've established L/Cs only to find out a week later that it has not been done? Or how unprofessional your bank is perceived when transactions are not put through without any reason given?

I have long considered opening an account with Ecobank, but time and time again your bank and staff remind me of why I should not. The migration on to a new system sometime in the third quarter of last year took approximately two months instead of the one week we were told, and it seems to still be causing problems as the "system is down" at least every other time I visit your bank. I still need to find a bank as my current one is lacking in so many ways and I need a bank that will give me a VISA card, provide me with cash points (ATMs for you American bred folks) and internet banking, but it seems I'll have to consider Standard Chartered instead.

Don't get me wrong, you're not the worst bank in town, HFC is no better, but at least when I wait for twenty minutes in a queue there, I am greeted by a smile and a "sorry for keeping you waiting", which I have never heard uttered in any of your banks. I hope you take this letter seriously and use my complaints to improve your services. Why not aim to introduce first class banking services to customers in Ghana, instead of adding to the general frustrations we already face in everyday life.

Kind regards,

A former potential customer.

What do you think, should I send it?


Anonymous said...

O Maya, you have said my "heart matter" for me. I have abandoned my accounts at Ecobank for similar maltreatments. Just so they know I am not just bashing them, I will start like this.

First of all, I opened an account at Ecobank because they had a deal with my company then (Lowe Lintas) and I needed an auto loan so it was recommended I source it from there. It all went well. A few months into this deal, I got a new job with a company that had decided to pay off my loan or take over the servicing if my bankers preferred that so I called this "Personal Banker". This is the branch in the former Fidelity House, close to Nima Police Station. I called this personal banker and she was so rude to me on the phone so I just went in and gave her cash cheque. Whilst in the bank with my new employers, they tried selling us some services. That was when I concluded it was not the right bank for me. I had not enjoyed the few months I had been with them any way.

I sincerely thought and still think 90+% of their staff are incompetent, ignorant, stressed or downright lazy. I must quickly add that there was a Barbara or Baaba girl when they first opened the Osu branch. She was awesome. Then there was Eric (Osu) who used to help me with International Transfers. He's also very polite. Finally, there is the plus size woman teller at the Accra Mall branch. She has a deep soft voice. She rocks.

If I was to rate the banks based on my personal experience (these are banks I have saved with), I will say the best bank in Ghana by every standard is GT Bank (but they have to check their airport branch. My accounts were moved there without my consent and the staff there just don't cut it for me".

2. Stanchart. 3. Ecobank. 4. Barclays. As for Barclays I actually went out of my way to close the accounts. They stink. Stuck up. Arrogant. Ignorant. Snubbish. To think I used to work on their accounts.

Sijui said...

Absolutely! Luckily it appears this is for corporate banking not your personal account. I would have asked you why you have not closed it already. Anyway, may I recommend that you try Barclays? I can't believe I'm saying this since I detest the bank but let me clarify. Our business account used to be with Ecobank, it was closed a long time ago since as you know they suck.....then we moved to Amal Bank since they advertised that they were SME friendly.....turned out to be assholes as well. Finally my hubbie opened a corporate account with Barclays and they have been fantastic *especially the branch in Dansoman* that deserves special mention. They have consistently been very responsive and efficient.
My experiences with Barclays in Kenya as a personal account holder have been the reverse, and I have since moved my business to a locally owned bank. Whilst I give Barclays in Ghana kudos, I plan to maintain my personal account with ProCredit :) I support what they stand for and have heard they are very good albeit a much smaller institution.
Good luck!

Nana Yaw Asiedu said...

Of course, Maya, send it. Just take out the 'HFC is rubbish' part, for corporate bodies can be libelled too, though you may speak the truth.

Great letter, totally dispassionate about a very emotive issue.

Anonymous said...

I'm totally with you on this. My branch (Silver Star) has a sign on the door that says they are open at 8am. That measn the doors are open at 8am but if you need to actually undertake a transaction (or even use the ATM) you'll be there for a long long while. They need to do something about the system and the staff.
Seriously, we understand that systems go down but please let me know that it is down and that it'll be a while instead of just leaving me to wait for close to an hour and leave only after i have inquired and found out about the said system downage.
And the staff seriously need some Customer Service training seesions. A smile goes a long way. A 'sorry for keeping you waiting' goes a long way. Information goes a long way.
Maybe you should offer them your services Maya. Organise a training session for them and send them an inflated bill for all the times they have stressed us all......

posekyere said...

Furious heh!
These days what you write in cuberspace can be used against you in litigation by the very system that you wish to correct.
Customer care in Ghana sticks whereever one turns. It appears to me that most corporates in our dear land do not give a hoot about the customers.
Many of the staff consider the very people they are employed to serve as a nuisance.
That is one of the reasons why we don't have many successful enterpreneurs( a subject you raised in your earlier posting).
I will advise that you try to speak to a senior in that branch about your concerns.

Maya said...

Sijui, I'm amazed that we all have bad banking experiences to talk about. My problem with Barclays is that because of their below poor service in London, I vowed to myself never to patronise their business in anywhere. Glad their doing better in Ghana though.

Maya said...

Wow, Anon,
It seems you've had even worse experiences than me! It's sad that this is the state of banking service in Ghana and I think your ranking is spot on. As for barclays, I made a promise to myself never to open an account with them...ever.

Maya said...

Thanks for the advice Nana Yaw,
If I do send the letter I'll definitely take 'HFC' out, don't see why Ecobank should have the benefit of knowing they rank better than anyone else, lol!

Maya said...

Completely agree with you Anon, it's not the lack of available services, it is the fact that they don't inform you or apologise that is annoying.

I wonder who to speak to about offering my services... ;)

Maya said...

It's true they seem to consider us a nuisance, Posekyere, but how can they forget it's our money that ays the wages! I enjoy the fact that there is more competition in almost every commercial field as it will force corporations to invest in good customer services.

After all, it seems we've all had enough!

Adaeze said...

lol - I feel you!
Great letter - of course you should send it. That's what is needed everywhere in Africa, people speaking up, complaining and asking questions when things aren't functioning. I am also reminded about your last topic which we discussed - in spite of your negative experience, this is yet another example of how much further Ghana has gotten. WOW you can actually be greeted with a smile? And internet banking exists? And you can cash cheques?I'm envious o :-D

novisi said...

Maya, positive!

let it go to them and just don't forget Nana's flag... it's getting your back intact alright!

i remember receiving a mail from Ecobank calling that i subscribe for internet banking which should cost me about 30 Ghana cedis a year or so!

i wrote back telling them that that service did not merit such cost by no measure and that it ought to be free! online banking for Christ sake?

so it's not just the lack of curtsies, there's too much rip-off of the Ghanaian customer base by the banks!

i'm with you!

Anonymous said...

Hi Maya,
I work with HFC Bank. Could you kindly let me know why in your opinion you think HFC is a "rubbish bank"

Thank you

Maya said...

Oh Adaeze, I hope half of what you're writing is a joke. Can Nigerian banks be that bad? As mentioned before, come to Ghana! :)

Maya said...

Novisi, it's hard to understand half of the things (and charges) the banks impose on us. Here's hoping for improvement!

Maya said...

Oh Anon,
So many reasons, so little time! I'm glad to see that someone at HFC is interested in hearing what is wrong with the bank, unfortunately those I speak to when I want to make complaints do not seem interested at all.

To be honest, there are really too many reasons to put in a blog post and most of them are so simple that it just takes comparing your bank to other banks in terms of services available, e.g. ATMs available, uptime of ATMs, average waiting time for a new ATM card, efficiency in changing customer details, etc, etc.

But I am impressed by your interest so I may just soften my approach towards your bank.

Oluniyi David Ajao said...

Hmn. Sorry about your frustration but the sad truth is, there are very few banks in Ghana and Ecobank happens to be one of them. The rest are what I consider susu-houses and you might loose your mind should you get any close to the "susu-houses".

Kodjo said...

I think the much larger problem, as many of you have identified, is the complete lack of any sense of (customer) service.

Not to bash anyone, but I must say that SG-SSB is second only to GCB when it comes to customer unfriendly service (if such a thing can exist). Their branch in Tema deserves particular mention here. I must hasten to add that if all the staff at this branch, were to receive clients in the manner of their deputy branch manager, it would be a different story.

I get the impression that the place is swarming with disgruntled employees who don't pass a fleeting chance to take out their frustrations on unsuspecting (potential) clients.

This all has to end someday, the sooner it does, the better.


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