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A reader shares his EMI woes with Bajaj Consumer Finance and Citibank.
Two months back, when I purchased something, I opted to fund the purchase through a loan from Bajaj Consumer Finance. I asked for the ECS debits for the EMI to be done from my Citibank account. Previously, I had done the same for my LCD TV with the ECS debits for the EMI being done from my ICICI Bank account and I had no problem whatsoever.
This time however, in the very first month, I observed in my [Citi]bank statement that the ECS had been “Stopped by Drawer” and therefore the EMI was not paid. I immediately wrote to the Customer Care of both Bajaj Consumer Finance and Citibank. They take about four to five days to respond. Both Bajaj Consumer Finance and Citibank responded saying that the other party has some problem, but no one was clear on what the problem actually was. After a lot of queries, Citibank replied saying that “Multiple vendors can register for ECS under the same Utility Code.”
Now, Bajaj Consumer Finance had registered the ECS under the Utility Code XXX. Unfortunately, XXX also happened to be the same Utility Code that was used by another vendor and for which I had issued an ECS stop payment in 2007. Since the Utility Code was the same, the stop payment automatically applied to the ECS Debit for Bajaj Consumer Finance as well.
I replied back asking how on Earth would I know about who has which Utility Code and who assigns/chooses this Utility Code. Bajaj Consumer Finance levied Rs 350 as a late fee. I asked Citibank to bear this late fee but no one cares to answer. Now, as you say, WTF was the word in my mouth.
This incident created a lot of frustration and mental agony. Now, the second EMI was due on May 05th. I went ahead and closed the whole loan amount including the late fee on May 04th and immediately sent emails to the grievance team of Bajaj Consumer Finance along with the receipts. To my utter horror, the cycle repeated with the second EMI as well. Bajaj Consumer Finance is asking me to pay the EMI even though I have closed the loan. They say they will refund the excess payments later. I have told them I am ready to pay the EMI but only if they guarantee a refund and without deducting a late fee. There is no reply yet.
I’ve also written to the Head of Citibank Customer Care. I feel so helpless and frustrated. I have decided to never ever to take a loan in future. I’m also thinking of closing my 10-year relation with Citibank and filing a complaint with the Ombudsman.
A couple of days later, the reader had an update to share.
The Head of Citibank Customer Care replied 8-days after I’d escalated the issue and they’ve asked me to wait for a few more days till they investigate the issue. In the meanwhile, a Customer Care Executive also called and after I gave them a piece of my mind regarding their customer service, agreed to refund the Rs 350 within a couple of days.
Let’s see if I get the refund.
All I can says is “Ouch!” It definitely isn’t worth your time, money, and energy to get into such a mess. A few guidelines that I can think of:
- Never ever buy a luxury or a lifestyle item on credit. Instead, plan for it, save for it, and buy it. You’ll really appreciate its value that much more. You’ll also enjoy it that much more.
- When you can avoid credit (and hence an EMI), avoid it. There’s no point in buying something on credit when you already have the funds to pay for it. Don’t play the zero-percent interest game. There’s always a catch and you’ll always lose.
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