When customer service fails

Debbie Jacob  -
Debbie Jacob -

Debbie Jacob

EVERY DAY I wake up thinking about how to make this country better so I am baffled when institutions make it difficult for me to do my job as president of the Wishing for Wings Foundation. My NGO helps inmates to develop skills that will reintegrate them back into the “free world” and supports our TT police dogs.

Wishing for Wings is 100 per cent non-profit. I don’t collect a salary or money for expenses so I can’t understand the poor customer service I received at Scotia Bank Ellerslie Plaza from people who are paid to do their jobs.

Earlier this year, a bank employee informed me that I needed to register my NGO as a company with the Ministry of Finance so I hired someone who knows about this procedure to see this process through. (Previously, I had been registered with the Ministry of Community Development).

My e-mails show that this paperwork was submitted to my bank on May 12. When weeks passed and the foundation’s secretary and I did not get the required appointment with the bank, I made numerous attempts to resolve the matter. Eventually I was told that the employee assigned to me went on vacation for three weeks, and I had to wait for her to return to work.

Since I’m treated like a business now, I asked, “Does Scotia Bank feel businesses should shut down because an employee is on vacation?”

On June 12, a couple of days after her return to work, the employee sent an e-mail saying Scotia Bank had to prepare the documents for my signature. No date was given for that appointment.

Now I asked, “So the bank didn’t prepare documents after we submitted the paperwork two months ago?” (Actually, there’s a common form for everyone. All they had to do was type my name and the secretary’s name in a box).

I sent an e-mail to all the people involved in my matter at Scotia Bank. This time I included the bank manager. The e-mail said my column for July 17 would be about the bank’s unacceptable customer service. I gave all parties involved the opportunity to answer these questions:

1. Why has this bank not yet provided a meeting after we submitted documents two months ago?

2. Why have the required documents for me to sign not yet been prepared by the bank after we submitted the paperwork two months ago?

3. Does the bank feel that customer service is important and should be handled expeditiously?

4. Does the bank consider two months of waiting for customer service appropriate?

5. Are there any consequences for employees who do not handle matters expeditiously?

Shortly after sending the e-mail, the employee assigned to help me called to give me and the secretary a meeting on the following day, July 13. My agonising wait had ended, but I felt no better because I have heard of two other cases with long delays for business banking services at other Scotia Bank branches.

Surely the bank is aware of customers’ difficulty and frustration when it comes to customer service and communicating with the bank. The only number provided for the bank connects customers to an answering service in Jamaica that doesn’t have the ability to connect customers to any person working in the bank.

On the morning of July 13, the bank manager called to apologise and say she’s looking into the matter. She said it should not have taken this long to complete the procedure.

If you go to Scotia Bank Ellerslie Plaza’s self-service machine just before the bank opens, you’ll see employees huddled together for the manager’s zealous pep talks. But what really counts is what happens when those doors open.

In the worst of circumstances, there’s always someone who tries his or her best to get a matter resolved and in this case that was employee Lawrence Samaroo. I am grateful to him.

Banks are important links in the chain of services that promote productivity. They can support businesses – or in my case, an NGO – or bring work to a screeching halt. Banks feel we are dependent on them, and we’ll put up with anything. But they are there to serve us. We have a right to demand timely service and respect, and we will speak out when that doesn't happen.

I hope Scotia Bank takes this opportunity to improve.


"When customer service fails"

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