Nightmares from some banks in Uganda
Posted Sunday, October 6 2013 at 01:00
The worst bank customer relationships I have ever had the misfortune to encounter have been of a certain Kampala bank. Some years ago, a friend advised me to be a customer of that bank and I agreed. Initially, the then management and staff were extremely professional, welcoming and gave me considerable assistance.
In my opinion, Crane and Eco banks’ customer relations are the best I know. I have been a customer of Barclays Bank since the 1960s, and its customer relations are above average. I have witnessed one or two instances of unprofessionalism committed by junior staff in Barclays Bank but the bank always apologises in writing and I have never had any of my Barclays cheques dishonoured or rejected. In fact, at one time, Barclays staff stopped the payment of one of my cheques which their vigilance revealed had been forged.
Shortly after apartheid ended in South Africa, African scholars held a continental conference in Cape Town. We found great difficulties in exchanging a few dollars into the South African Rand. We queued and had our photographs and fingerprints taken. We were subjected to prolonged and thorough searches before we were eventually permitted to get a few rands. This was in Stanbic Bank and although I am told that its interaction with customers is good, because of the treatment we received during the era of apartheid, I have refrained from opening an account in that bank.
The worst bank customer relationships I have ever had the misfortune to encounter have been with a certain Kampala bank [name withheld – Ed]. Some years ago, a friend advised me to be a customer of that bank and I agreed. Initially, the then management and staff were extremely professional, welcoming and gave me considerable assistance.
The then non-Ugandan Executive Officer often invited me as he must have done with other customers to his office for charts and advice. He discovered that I had taught banking law in England and planned to persuade other banks to engage me as lecturer in banking rules, practices, ethics and integrity. He was then transferred. The Ugandan who replaced him never had time to see me again until his arrogant and incompetent staff forced me to seek an audience with him.
Although I wrote to him about his staff’s failures, he failed to respond. I wrote to him several letters of complaints, had them sent by recorded delivery. He still failed to answer any of them nor did any of his senior staff I had copied those letters to bother to respond, let alone correct the ghastly mistakes their poorly trained staff were making frequently.
I warned the management that I could not let this matter rest as I felt that I would have to warn other Ugandans about it. They kept silent. I wrote to him a third time since he had failed to discipline his staff and correct their gross errors. I enclosed evidence of their inefficiency and incompetence and suggested that I would transfer my money to another bank.
Few bankers will believe what happened next. The manager actually directed his staff to transfer my funds to the bank I had nominated, namely Ecobank. He utterly refused to interact with me anymore and directed his employees to eject my moneys from his bank. This may be contrasted with the attitudes of other banks. When a small problem of my own making arose in Crane Bank, the Managing Director personally called me for a discussion in his office which took half an hour. When a minor occurrence affected my account in Ecobank, the CEO himself accompanied by the head of the legal department actually made an appointment and came to see me in my law chambers.
When a young novice trainee at Barclays Bank made a mistake, the then Operations Manager of the Bank called me on a Saturday, and informed me that I needed not to bother going to the bank. Instead, his senior officers would drive and go to my residence and correct the mistakes his juniors had made. I remain a faithful customer of both banks. Crane Bank does it much more frequently and professionally to its customers than any other bank I know.
In the case of this bank (name withheld - Ed), it would appear that the bank employee is always right and the customer is always insignificant and wrong.
Prof Kanyeihamba is a retired Supreme Court judge. email@example.com