I WAS availing myself of a running finance limit of Rs900,000 against a Regular Income Certificate, valuing Rs1,000,000, from a private bank in Islamabad that has its glass panels splattered with the images of a comical character.
The limit was renewed in June 2012, and I issued a cheque for Rs10,000 in July 2012, which was returned unpaid.
The hand-written reason given on the returning memo stated: “Credit line blocked”.
It was both shocking and embarrassing as never before in my life ever — with accounts at local and foreign banks for well over 30 years — have any of my cheques bounced.
The reason was vague and it was not specified why the limit had been blocked.
If I remember correctly, the State Bank of Pakistan had in the past issued clear instructions to banks to refrain from using ambiguous terms, and the reason for returning cheques should be made absolutely clear.
It was only latter that I came to know that the bank wanted me to surrender the profit coupon before the finance could be utilised again. However, previously neither any such demand had been made nor had the bank communicated with me regarding it. They were probably not satisfied with the margin of Rs100,000 they already held, and wanted to be additionally secured by the monthly profit as well.
Since this was a new requirement for me, the bank, therefore, should have mentioned this at the time the renewal documents were submitted, and also in the facility letter, which was never provided. I had asked the bank to quote the SBP or its own head office regulation/circular wherein it has become policy requirement of handing over the profit coupons/cheque books of RIC to the bank for financial facility, when no response is received. Ultimately, I withdrew the security amount in November 2012 from the bank and had my urgent financial needs met through other sources.
I remember there was a time when bank officials used to have a personal relationship with their customers. Besides, they utilised their skills to satisfy a customer who was considered as always right. Now it is the other way around, despite the fact that the banks have all the data in the world about their customers in this day of high technology, but the serve-you-better concept remains missing.
The senior management of banks badly needs to groom their staff in customer-care lessons.