Before the 31st day of October 2014, Guarantee Trust Bank-GTB could do no wrong in my eyes.
I prided them as being one of the most customer friendly banks who pay attention to detail and customer satisfaction, though many people I know argued otherwise. My friends argued that GTB has become very comfortable because of their large customer base, and have now taken a lot for granted. I always defended my ‘favourite’ bank because I truly believed that GT was indeed a fantastic and customer friendly bank.
But alas, I was wrong. Very wrong. My bitter personal experience with the bank is what I want to address in this post and also send a clear message to the bank that it WILL NEVER BE OK, to take any customer regardless of who they are for granted.
On the 31st of October 2014, around 11pm to be precise I tried pay for an Aero Contractors Ticket. I have always chosen to pay through GT PAY via the GT online platform because I trusted that if I had any issues during the process, my money will be refunded, and in good time too. But on that fateful day, after filling in all the necessary details, including the 6 digit code generated from my token, I got the message ‘INVALID TOKEN CODE’. I thought it was just an error so I tried it again. On trying it again the same thing happened. Eventually, I thought it wise to call customer care to complain about the token, since I had no prior issues with it that day.
On calling customer care, the token’s irregularity was fixed and then I tried to pay again. This time around the transaction was successful, and I breathed a sigh of relief. Unknown to me however, my money was deducted for the two previous attempts before the successful transaction. I didn’t get any alert immediately to this effect, and it wasn’t until I tried to purchase credit with my GT app that I noticed the irregularity in my account. Instead of Sixteen Thousand, Five Hundred and Ten Naira (N16, 510), a total sum of Forty-Nine Thousand, Five Hundred and Thirty Naira (N49, 530) was deducted from my account. Simply put, my money was deducted for the two initial false transactions.
I didn’t panic, because I was glad at that point I paid through GTB. I thought my money will be refunded within 24 hours, at most 48 hours, and to ensure this, I put a call to customer care immediately to lodge a complaint. This was way past midnight already.
The Customer Care Representative I spoke to apologised and explained that on the 31st of every month, the GT Bank online system resets automatically and corrects errors etc for the end of the month’s transactions. This I was told happens between the hours of 11pm and 2pm (or thereabout) every last day of the month. While this is going on, errors, false deductions etc could take place, and the system post-dates the transaction to the next working day. As a result, whatever error or discrepancy will be taken to have occurred on the following working day and sorted in that line. I was also made to understand that as a result of the system reset, my transaction was post-dated to November 3rd, the next working day. I was advised to wait till the end of the next working day before lodging another complaint.
Against the backdrop of the explanation I was given, I waited till Tuesday before calling back. On doing so, I was told my complaint had been noted and transferred to the appropriate quarters for the matter to be looked into, and I should wait for 48 hours. I did.
Few days later I called again after I heard nothing, to lodge another complaint. I was told to be patient that my money will be refunded ‘soon’.
Few days turned to one week, one week to two. In between I was calling customer care, which was a very harrowing experience. I called customer care more than 10 times, during which I would sometimes have to wait endlessly to speak to an agent. Sometimes after waiting for ages, the agent picks up and the line disconnects, perhaps due to network. I would have to go through the rigour of calling again, and waiting endless to speak to another agent, only to be told in the same monotonous tone: “Your complaint has been forwarded to the right channel to work on it and your money will be refunded soon.” When I ask “How soon is soon?” They always replied: “We can’t give an exact date but they will work on it.” This response and the attitude of some of the agents I spoke to made me wonder if it wasn’t my hard earned money in question.
Two weeks after continuously calling and complaining, I got an alert from GTBANK, a refund alert. But before I could heave a sigh of relief, I found that it was just half of the money deducted that was refunded. From that point I had to start calling customer care again, and going through the same strenuous process. After about one week and nothing had been done, I decided to go to the GTBank at Bode-Thomas where I do most of my transactions. I complained to the customer care agent in charge and she said my money will be refunded soon. More than a week later, no refund, no message or anything of that sort informing me of the status quo.
In the wee hours of Tuesday-25th November 2014, I called customer care again-for the last time. After relating my case to the agent, he told me as usual: “I can see that your complaint has been forwarded to the right channel and it will be sorted out soon.” “How soon is soon?” I asked. “I cannot give you a specific time.” Same old story.
At this point I’m very upset and this is way more than N16, 510. I can’t help but wonder:
* Why I need to call customer care with my own money in the first place? In a civilised country, calling customer care should be FREE. It’s more than ridiculous that a bank like GTBank, with one of the biggest customer base in the country feels the need to rip off their customers by charging them exorbitantly when they call customer care. What about people who can’t afford to spend ridiculous amounts to call customer care, don’t they deserve to be catered to?
* Why I should be deprived unjustly of my ‘hard earned money’, without any sign of remorse from a bank where I operate 4 functioning accounts including domiciliary, and do more than 90% of my money related transactions;
* I can’t help but wonder If the extra N33,020 was all I had in all my accounts, and I need for instance: to pay for my tuition fees or forfeit my admission, pay for my medical bills, or even feed, what would have happened in the last one month that my money has been cruelly held on too;
* I can’t understand why when you call GT customer care, and after waiting endlessly the phone disconnects, the agent can’t call back?
* I can’t understand, why many of the customer care agents I spoke to seemed tired of their job, and answer in the most lacklustre manner?
* I can’t comprehend why after almost a month, no one feels the need to update me on how the issue is being handled;
* I don’t understand why in the first place I need to be deprived of my money for one month.
Companies like GTBank need to understand that every customers’ issue or complaint rich, poor or average should be treated with utmost priority. That the bank now has a huge customer base is not enough to get comfortable and treat some customers poorly. At every point in every reputable company, CUSTOMER CARE SHOULD BE PRIORITY.
At this point I will also like to say unequivocally, that GTBank no longer owes me N16,510. The bank owes me more. Apart from refunding my money, I expect a refund for the numerous calls to customer care and the stress of going to the bank to no avail, as well as compensation for the stress I’ve put through. In countries where the legal system works more accurately, GTB will by now be swimming in law suits, real and frivolous, because many aggrieved customers are not being properly attended to. I’m sure I’m not the only customer experiencing this and I base my conclusion on a recent survey I did inspired by the way my matter is being handled. Ripping people off (No matter how little), yet using their money to run their business is very unfair and unjust.
Be it billions, millions or thousands deposited, the bank is doing no customer a favour, instead it’s the other way round. The experts at GT I’m sure know the importance of every type of customer, hence their concentration on retail banking.
This is how I have being shabbily treated by a Bank I held very highly, and spoke very passionately about in the past. I have been treated ‘like I don’t matter, like my patronage means nothing’.
Let me add also that I am a qualified lawyer, and I know what to do from this point if my complaints and request are not promptly and properly attended to. I will not be bullied, because I know my rights.
I may not be Femi Otedola or Dangote, but I am a good and respectable customer. Hence I will not rest until I get an apology and the proper refund that I deserve.
Twitter hashtag: #GTBMustRefundMe