CRM Horrors: A PIN is Just to Prick You

by Vinaya HS on June 25, 2009

in Finance

It’s no secret that I find HSBC quite lame. In spite of these, I still have a credit card from HSBC — simply because it’s the only credit card and credit card history that I have. Yesterday, I used my Telephone Banking PIN to check up on the outstanding balance. Normally, the call is fully automated, but yesterday, it was redirected to a human. Here’s a summary of our conversation. My thoughts/responses in [ ].

  • Apparently, the call was redirected in spite of my using my PIN just because HSBC had some “offers” to make. [WTF, mate.]

  • The first offer was some insurance scam from Tata-AIG. Seems I should take it even if I already have insurance. [I hate Tata-AIG. Thanks.]

  • The second offer was some EMI option for paying the outstanding balance. [I'm on the way to drop a check for the full amount. Thanks.]

  • The third offer was some Card Protection Plan. [I don't think my card needs any protection (pun intended). Thanks.]

  • Disappointment in voice. Hang-up.

What a totally lame bank.

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At the Cafe Coffee Day outlet at the Bangalore International Airport, I asked for an empty cup (paper or plastic; any size) so that I could share my coffee (an expensive one bought a few seconds back) with someone who I was with. Seems they can’t give one. I offered to pay. Seems an empty cup costs as much as a full cup of coffee. Management for management’s sake. True CRM horror.

What has your experience been?


Quite some time since I posted a CRM horror story. This time it was at The Shoppers Stop at The Garuda Mall, Bangalore.

On the 2nd floor, D and I are looking around, when we’re approached by an in-store staff who asks, “Would you like to avail a First Citizen membership?” I wanted to scream, “WTF! $#@!*^%.” D simply said, “We already have a First Citizen membership.”

At the ground floor billing counter, another in-store staff starts, “Would you like to avail a First Citizen membership? There’s a Rs 200 charge. But unlike before, you now get blah blah discounts for some blah blah products at some blah blah stores. Here are the blah blah coupons for the blah blah discounts.” Pause. “NO. We don’t have time.” Resume. “It will only take 2 minutes. Here are the blah blah coupons for the blah blah discounts.” Pause. I wanted to scream, “WTF! $#@!*^%.” Resume. “You can get 50% off on cosmetics blah blah…”

Message to Shoppers Stop: If you desperately need money to run your stores, just keep a donation box at each entry/exit point. Stop harassing your customers. Thank your lucky stars that they’re still walking into your stores.


The Reserve Bank of India time and again issues various instructions/guidelines in the area of customer service to bring about improvements in the quality of customer service in banks and their branches. But whether banks actually implement these guidelines is a different matter altogether. As bank customers, however, it’s prudent on our part to know and understand what these guidelines are in order that we can stand up for our rights. In order to have all current instructions on this subject at one place, the Reserve Bank of India has compiled many of the important instructions in the form of a Master Circular.

This circular is 92-pages long, but is packed with information that you, as the customer of a bank, should know.

Take some time off this weekend and assimilate its contents. You’ll be glad that you did.

Awareness Fridays is my new initiative to spread awareness on topics relevant to personal finance — every Friday. I urge you to take some time off and absorb this information — it’s pretty useful. And, as always, do spread the word if you find this useful.


That’s what a security guard at the Reebok store on 100 ft. Ring Road, Banashankari 3rd Stage said when I visited the store at 11:00 AM last Saturday.

I desperately needed a cap and I had committed to buy one then and there. Instead I was not allowed to step inside the store because — to quote the security guard — “the owners are already in the store, but you have to wait outside for five minutes because the salesperson has gone outside.”

WTF mate? Who am I? A committed-to-a-purchase customer or a criminal who wants to walk away with the store in broad daylight? You might have read, heard, and seen these fancy reports written by fancy experts projecting India to be “the thing” in retail. Ground reality is different. This experience at the Reebok store is not an isolated incident. Most retail outlets treat customers worse than criminals, with salespeople and security guards watching — with eyes that would rival a hawk’s — your every move.

And my response to the security guard was, “If that’s the way the owners want to run their business, no one’s going to step foot inside this store.” I actually wanted to say this to the owners, but hey, remember, I can’t go inside and talk to them because “though the owners are already in the store, I have to wait outside for five minutes because the salesperson has gone outside.”

What’s your “retail” experience been this far?

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We are delighted to present you a pre-approved My Terms Credit™ Personal Loan up to Rs 325,000 at a Special Relationship Benefit rate of 17.45%…So, whether it’s the home renovation your wife wants, the feature-packed computer your child desires, or the vacation you want to take your family on, you can make your family smile with joy!

So what’s the CRM (Customer Relationship Management) problem here? I don’t know where HSBC got this information from, but

  • I don’t have a wife. Specifically, I don’t have a wife who wants to renovate my home.

  • I don’t have a child. Specifically, I don’t have a child who desires a feature-packed computer.

  • My family isn’t too keen on taking a vacation now.

Even if one or more of the above were true, I honestly wouldn’t take a personal loan at 17.45% to solve those problems. Seriously, why will your family smile with joy when you have a personal loan at 17.45% on your head?

What do you think?