Bank matters

I’ll be going up to Abisko and Kiruna over the weekend so there won’t be any posts for some time. Before leaving it’s time to complain about POSB.

Like most sg kids, I’ve had a POSB account for don’t know how many donkey years. Some time ago they were taken over by DBS, so it’s basically one and the same now. Sometimes I’m confused since the webpages point to each other.

Anyway, for some reason I couldn’t withdraw any cash from ATMs. Maybe I didn’t key in the PIN correctly or something, but having tried a few times at a few ATMs it didn’t seem likely. I decided to email them about the matter.

A few days later, there was still no reply, but the exchange rate had become really favourable so I was anxious to get some cash changed. It still wouldn’t work so I called their customer service number, the one printed on the back of the card.

After trying very long without any success to get pass the automatic machines, I finally got to speak to a real person, who transferred me to the debit card department. Thus I was put on hold. I didn’t have to wait too long. The call was cut off after a few seconds. I checked my phone balance and realised that the 90+ SEK I had started with had just become 9 SEK. Plus I had just topped up the card and it was supposed to last me a month. So after 90 SEK I still hadn’t spoken to anyone who could even make an attempt at solving my problem.

My brother was online so I asked him to call the toll free number in Singapore. After some time, he told me that DBS would not divulge any information to a third party and suggested that I call the overseas number myself. They even helpfully provided the number which I had just spent 90SEK on. When asked if they accept reverse charge calls, the customer service guy could only sound apologetic and say no. If you’re wondering how I could know how he sounded, it was because my brother told me.

Ok, now for the engineering solution. Skype can actually be used to call overseas numbers for some low cost, but I hadn’t bought their credits because I didn’t think I would need them. So I decided to Skype home and get my family to call POSB and put it on speakerphone. After my brother woke up everyone in the house, they managed to connect some speakers and get the volume levels right. My mom then dialled the number and chose the Chinese option as she is more comfortable speaking in Chinese.

As if having to pay a hefty charge because they don’t accept reverse charge calls wasn’t enough, the customer service officer who answered asked if he could use English. That kind of defeats the purpose of choosing the Chinese option. I wonder what it’s there for. We were put on hold to wait for someone who could speak Chinese.

My mom explained the situation to the guy then I explained the whole story again in English. At least he’s bilingual and I didn’t have to be transferrred to someone else. The connection worked very well and we could hear each other very clearly. His final diagnosis: “You must have forgotten your PIN. You can request for a new card and we’ll send it to the address you registered with the bank. Then you’ll have to activate it by signing the form and sending it back to us. Maybe you can try your PIN number again.”

Right…. Very helpful. Thanks… However, it does prove that Skype and a speakerphone can be used for relaying voice calls.

Anyway, I did try the PIN again the next day, pressing the numbers very carefully. This time it worked. And the exchange rate was even higher. But I’ve essentially spent the difference calling POSB.

So the moral of the story is, don’t lose your card, or you’ll spend a bomb trying to report its loss. Also, get another card from another bank. I notice that the UOB card says to call collect the number. I haven’t actually tried it, but at least it looks like their customers won’t be left in the lurch.

Both customer service officers suggested email, which I had already tried. I did get a reply a few days later. Here is what it says.

We apologise that we cannot reveal account information to you, as
e-mails are not deemed secured mode of communication. We seek your kind
understanding on this matter as this is to safeguard the banking
interests of our account holders.

May we refer you to call our 24-hour Customer Service Hotline at 1800
111-1111 or (+65) 6327-2265 (from overseas) for immediate assistance on
the account-related matters.

Thank you for writing to us.

It’s like being sent around in a spiral with the customer service hotline in the middle. Not that they could do much anyway. In fact the whole matter is quite comical. While I do understand the need for strict security procedures, the very least they could do is to accept reverse charge calls. It would be much appreciated by people who find it urgent enough to call their banks from overseas.

Contrast this with ting’s experience with a Canadian bank. I find that level of service very impressive. It’s personal and sincere. Read about it here.

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