Update: November 21: Finally, after more than a month of running around the BTM branch managed to return the money back to my sister. Thanks to all the readers for their suggestions and advice! And also to the reader who had left the email addresses of the concerned people at ICICI who we emailed. (He had asked for his comment to be deleted). The saga is over but it has definitely left us with a really bad taste in the mouth.

Update: November 20: As of today, after about a month, my sister still awaits closure and return of her money. She has written to mostly everyone including Kamath, and someone from his office actually called, listened to her story and assured her that they will resolve the issue. We’re hoping it happens soon!

This seems to be a time for sharing horror stories. But in times when you feel no one is listening, I think at least we can resort to one outlet. That is, blog about it so at least others can come to know before they do something similar.

Last month, my sister who’s down from the UK and made the very big mistake of opting for ICICI to start a bank account. She went to the nearest branch in BTM (off the Udupi garden lane). That’s where her trouble started.

— On the 17th, she opened her a/c by paying pounds (which the bank accepted) and she received a welcome kit with an ATM card.

— Ten days later, on the 27th she checked the ATM card, which was disallowed. She called someone at BTM branch called Dilip and he said he’d get back in half an hour’s time. One hour later she called again and he said the a/c hadn’t been activated. They needed more time.

But she had given them enough time. She then went to bank and asked for the a/c to be closed and was assured by the BM that a/c would be activated tomorrow i.e 28th.

On the 28th she received an sms from the Sales Manager saying her a/c will be activated on 29th.

Meanwhile on the 28th she called Customer Care and was told that her application had not been rejected and that she would hear from them within 4 working days. SR NO 43113540.

She also sent complaint to the Senior Manager Quality Service through the website who promise to get back with a response in 48 hours. No response to date.

On the 31st, she called customer care (CC) and was told application had been postponed to the 6th of November.

On the 6th, she called CC and was informed that application had been REJECTED due to foreign exchange. They couldn’t accept pounds! There was no news from the bank in the meantime.

On the 6th, she went to the bank and 20 minutes later was told the manager was not present.

On the 7th, she called Dilip again and was told that the bank will be closed for Diwali and the manager was on holiday. He told her that it was best to wait till Monday (12) next and he had got the application form for closure ready and she needed to sign on it and would receive her money on Tues.

On the 12th, she went to bank and waited for one and half hours. Finally, she was given a blank paper to put her request for closure of a/c in writing. They had no formal application for account closure!

When she asked what the process would be next, she was informed that the letter would be sent to regional sales manager and they should hear from him on Tues or Wed and she can then come and collect cheque.

She told him she didn’t have an account (that was the reason for wanting to open one!!) and giving a cheque wouldn’t get her anywhere and could she have her money back.

The guy said yes but according to her, he keeps saying “yes!yes” to everything but is not able to give her a definite answer for anything. She sent another complaint to the Nodal Head and Senior GM yesterday and is still waiting to date for something to happen.

These are some questions that come to mind:

1) Why did they accept pounds to open her account when weeks later they realised that they can’t accept it? Why did it take more than 3 weeks to tell her that her account was rejected and why did they keep assuring her that the account would be activated?

2) Why on earth did they issue an ATM pin card and an account number for an account that they went and rejected?

3) Why doesn’t anyone seem to know anything at the place? If you work at a bank aren’t you supposed to know something about the working about the procedures at least opening and closure?

4) Why does she have to close an account which has not been opened or approved in the first place?!

5) In this day and age, how can any bank afford to take nearly ONE MONTH to process an account (whether it’s opening, rejecting or closure)?

My sister has already made endless calls and made numerous visits to the bank just to set up an account. Not to mention the distress and frustration she’s gone through of dealing with customer service people who basically know nothing and give you no real answers. And deal with the phone guys, and even the people at the branch don’t seem to know anything.

6) How does one escalate in this case? She tried the website but had no luck. Her pleas to the branch manager at the BTM branch does not seem to get her anywhere either.

Meanwhile, we wait in the hope that something will finally work out. But with these experiences behind her, it’s unlikely she will have anything to do with ICICI bank again.

36 thoughts on “Where’s the customer in customer service?! Trouble with ICICI Bank

  1. There is the Ombudsman you can contact. While I do not know the contact details for the banking Ombudsman, I vaguely remember reading about it in one of the large ATMs of HSBC, Citibank or ICICI.

  2. I’m a long-time customer of ICICI Bank and like it a lot. But there are real operational problems like the one you mentioned in this post. I’ve had a bad experience with the BTM branch, but I had other channels to resolve the issue. Those BTM branch folks seem to be irresponsible and clueless about procedures. It makes more sense to do some research before you try out a service like banking especially when it is not the routine job (depositing pounds). It is bad when you find out that the very bank employees, who are supposed to know it all, end up pointing in no direction. You can try out this link for grievances! The link points to the Banking Ombudsman at the end, as the ultimate mechanism.

  3. Definitely Ombudsman material!!!! A clear case of harassment..and with the kind of proofs that your sister seems to have got…boy! ICICI is going to have a tough time explaining it! 🙂 And believe me, ombudsman is not the typical court where cases drag on for years…it is very ‘customer’-friendly, if you know what I mean ;)!

  4. But why was your sister trying to deposit pounds in the first place? If she has permanently moved back to India, don’t rupees make more sense? And if she isn’t back in India permanently, why didn’t she get an NRE account? I’m a little curious as to why she must have an account in pounds and not rupees. This is just common sense. If you walk into a bank in England, you can’t hold a local checking account in any currency other than the local one. Not even Euros. But why this expectation in India?

  5. hiii,
    regarding customer service, ICICI is the worst of all, i heard lots and lots of complaints
    about ICICI , be it a home loan or personal loan,
    even recently court imposed a fine of RS.50 lakhs
    as the bank is following some harsh methods to collect their dues
    so don’t go to ICICI for your needs

  6. On the ICICI website there is a link Compliants. You can lodge a complaint there. It also mentions an escalation mechanism

  7. ICICI provides disgusting service. At many ATM’s in major areas like JP nagar, Koramangala; ATMs aren’t loaded with sufficient notes and a big printout is stuck saying–“OUT OF ORDER” or “can dispense only 100 notes” or “Transaction slip not available”. I have had many such experiences with ICICI atm’s. Many times, they don’t send the account statement also. And no one responds appropriately when we call CC. Compared to these, State Banks are much better.

  8. thanks everyone for the suggestions! we are still waiting for something to happen and like true indians, haven’t given up hope that it will happen sometime in the near future before our hair turns white!

    @ anon: my sister had initially wanted to change the pounds into rupees. usually all banks have the facility for foreign exchange conversion. icici in btm didn’t have this facility and so when she told the guys they said they would be able to do it internally and accepted the pounds! if she knew that this is what they would do to her, she would definitely NEVER have agreed to it.

  9. hahahahah, icici did it again. i am the living symbol of the icicitortured soul. my experience with them is 90% bad 10% good.

    i wanted to move my nre ac from pune to kerala, they said possible but not possible. advice was first close the pune one and open another one in kerala,took one year……

    i wanted a home loan, according to yhem i am eligible for 80 lakhs but didn’t knew how to process, they said some one will call me. some body did call fronm some call center but did’t have any idea about loans……
    i can write a whole ramayana but…….
    good luck

  10. Hi Anita!

    I am sorry to hear about the mess that your sister is having to go through. The problem is that ICICI has no processes and systems. Such problems have been proping up all over the country. What is probably happening is that ICICI is earning interest at the expense of your sisters money. For every single day that your sister’s money is lying with them, they are earning unaccounted interest. Not only this the number of suicides and deaths that have resulted becuase of the arm twisting methods of this bank is alarming. You can get the answers to all your questions by filing an Right to information act application. There are other legal methods as well. Do let me know if you need some help. I will be glad to help.

    Shiv Bhaskar Dravid

  11. You Bet!!!
    The WORST ever banking experience I had… You ask me then why I’m continuing with them?? ONLY because that happens to be the CORPORATE account of my company!!
    Credit Cards, Home loans, Credit Card repayment, Debit PIN you name the service I had the trouble with these guys…
    Now I’ve shifted all “Personal” stuff to State Bank and just kept the Official corporate SB account only coz my salary gets credited there…

  12. u r very true .. even i had same kind of experiences … they r really sick

    anita … i am just wondering whether u wud ever stop blogging? there was a time when all my friends used to blog … but everyone left it slowly after 1 yr, 2 yrs or at most 3 yrs … but u r kinda impossible …. u love writing a lot … eh?

  13. very true Icici is the most horrible bank. their serivce level is going down day by day. the state is all outsourced and they all act as if they own the bank and in reality they do not know anything. to change ECS from one bank to another they are charging me whereas other banks do not charge at all and for doing this the people at Icici acted as if they are doing me a BIG favour.
    LOUSY BANK LOUSY SERVICE has to improve drastically and become people friendly

  14. Hi Anita

    Its nothin about ur recent post, smthing very general. I was introduced to this Blogworld by one of my friend in early 2005, till then I keep on reading blogs of differnt people, Its nice know about different experiences. Its alltogether a different story how I found yrs, Actually I am also from Assam and oneday in my leasure time i was searching is there anyone from Assam also writes Blog (as we r never exposed to this culture) . That the route to you. Anyway I am very happy to find a presence from Assam in Blog’s world (there may be many but I dont know). I like yr style and yr quote ” Trade carefully as u trade in my dreams”. Do u also loke to read others, if so do read “my dayz with myself”, probably u r knowing, The guy has an amazing style of writing, the way he sees the things is just superb. Most important his blogs will make u laugh when u desperately looks for it.

    Keep writing….


  15. @ geetha: interesting that he too should go through such harrowing experiences! i guess that goes on to tell how lacklustre their attitudes have become today.

    @ all those who commented and wrote in with suggestions: thanks a lot for all the help! my sister did finally have to resort to write directly to the top (someone had left the email addresses in the comments). someone from icici finally called and the matter was sorted out in a few days after that.

  16. Hi Anitha,
    I can truly relate to your sister’s experience!
    my experiences with the ICICI bank has been equally worse and till date I havent obtained any resolution for the issue I am facing. I had applied for a loan 3 months back and I have no clue whether my loan has been approved or rejected till date! There is no response from them. when I call the call centre they say somebody will get back to me. When I contact the person who took me through theloan application process, he doesnt lift the phone! when I call his supervisor, she has no clue and says she will ask the person to call me back. I am still waiting for the calls.

  17. My wife and I have suffered immensely due to ICICI bank negligence and incompetence. They are even telling lies. Everyone should warn their friends to stop banking with them, as the consequences of thier neglect can be very severe on families like us. They will not hesitate to tell lies on your face.

  18. Oh, man.. I had a similar experience with them. Worst banking experience. It took 40 days of repeated fone calls, emails, to enable my disabled account. Totally clueless customer service people, lethargic remittance team.

  19. I live in UK. I had my indian and NRI accounts with ICICI. At one time I got an urgent requirement to submit indian ICICI account statements atttested to gov in UK with a short notice period. I was told by call center here to walk in any branch in UK. As they have very few I travelled almost two hours to go there in person (ofcourse I had to take a day off) and told my urgency. I taken the printouts with me taken from internet banking. The bank manager after listening to every thing told me its not possible to attest them as the UK banks cannot access the Indian accounts. I called india call center to send me the same for which they said they can only courier to my indian address with in 21 days that too I have to pay for them for every statement a considerable amount. what I interest to say here is their systems seriously lack integration. They can never become a true global player with this kind of service..

  20. September 30, 2008

    Dear Sir/ Madam,
    We greatly value your relationship with us. In the context of the developments in the international financial markets, we thought it pertinent to bring to you our perspective of the prevailing situation.

    We would like to bring to your attention that the Indian banking system is well regulated and significantly insulated from global developments. This is because it is mandatory for all Indian Scheduled Commercial Banks to retain 34% of the deposit base in the form of Government Securities (SLR) and cash with RBI (CRR). Besides, sound policies of RBI have ensured prudent credit practices in the Indian Banking system.

    ICICI Bank is already compliant with the BASLE II requirement in respect of risk management practices and capital adequacy. At 13.4%, ICICI Bank has one of the highest capital adequacy ratios in the Indian banking industry. Last year, ICICI Bank raised Rs. 20,000 crores (US $ 5 billion) of equity capital, which almost doubled our equity capital base. We have a net worth of over Rs. 47,000 crores (US$ 10 billion), again one of the highest in the banking industry in India We have consolidated total assets of over Rs. 4,84,000 crores (over US $ 105 billion), which is diversified across a wide range of asset classes across retail, wholesale and rural banking.

    ICICI Bank is amongst the most profitable banks in India. In FY 08, ICICI Bank made a profit of Rs. 4,158 crores (US$ 900 million).

    ICICI Bank has the highest credit ratings in the Indian financial sector. We have AAA ratings for our instruments, such as senior bonds, subordinated bonds, and deposits. We have the highest foreign currency bond ratings assigned to any Indian bank from Moodys and S&P.

    We continue to invest in growth, indicating our confidence in the opportunities in the Indian market. In 07-08, ICICI Bank added 650 new branches, taking the total strength to over 1400 branches.

    We thank you for reposing trust in us over the years. We look forward to setting new benchmarks in service levels in India and to create a bank that you will continue to be proud of.

    As a testimony to the above, please find below the clarification given by Reserve Bank of India.

    Date : 30 Sep 2008
    RBI Statement on ICICI Bank’s Financial Position
    There are reports in some sections of the media that based on rumours regarding the financial strength of ICICI Bank, depositors are withdrawing cash at its ATMs and branches in some locations.

    It is clarified that the ICICI Bank has sufficient liquidity, including in its current account with the Reserve Bank of India, to meet the requirements of its depositors. The Reserve Bank of India is monitoring the developments and has arranged to provide adequate cash to ICICI Bank to meet the demands of its customers at its branches/ ATMs.

    The ICICI Bank and its subsidiary banks abroad are well capitalised.

    Alpana Killawala
    Chief General Manager

    Press Release : 2008-2009/412


    Uma Lakhani
    Office of Head Service Quality
    ICICI Bank Ltd.

  21. Dear Sir. I have NRI a/c and I want to withdraw some amount from my account through ATM.Pl suggest me how much amount we can withdraw in single day because in this time I am in Abudhabi.Pl mention the withdraw amount from same bank atm and from another bank.Thanks

    Bhola Prasad Singh

  22. In the last few years, the easily available credit cards and loans in the
    market have superbly enabled us to increase our purchasing power way beyond
    what our salaries ever could.

    I can now buy just about anything on EMI by availing of these loans and
    credit cards – be it a car, a house, expensive jewellery or a branded watch
    that costs almost more than 10 times my salary! What bliss…. and all
    because of the availability of credit at this age. Its a lifestyle I
    so enjoy, but one which I know I must curb at some point. I have been
    telling myself that I should stop spending too much on my card because the
    bills at the end of the month tend to bother me. This heavily
    credit-dependent lifestyle makes me feel good and experience things I
    otherwise, but it also stresses me out every now and then. I tell myself and
    I want to stop but I can’t seem to! It’s almost like an addiction now. It’s
    frustrating every now and then.

    Anyway, logic not prevailing, I have been continuing the same lifestyle. I
    don’t think I will ever be able to stop it completely but regulating the
    habit is something I am looking at now. I have begun to search for some way
    in which I could possible get some professional guidance on “how
    much” of this indulgence was ok for me at each point. To what extent could I
    indulge and still manage to pay my bills and EMIs? To what extent can I
    afford to live on credit and yet not be stressed about the bills?! How many
    loans can I take and still manage to pay off the EMI’s comfortably every
    month so that I am not in a situation where I have no money in the last week
    of every month!?? For how many months of
    the year can I afford to continue paying the minimum on my credit card?

    Would any of you be aware of any such service that I can avail of? Who do I
    approach for such advice? Would be great if you could write in and advise me

  23. Yes ICICI is horrible bank i have ever deal with. The people of bank have so much of attitude and ego as if they are some actor or actress and no one would try to cooperate you. There should be strict law and regulation which would teach these guys a nice lesson. Free Indian democratic country should not miss use the power of this … lets fight against these people

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