20 April 2006

What Is GEMS?

Every month, I normally draw a cheque to transfer my funds from Bank A to Bank B so that I can earn a higher rate of interest on my money. Like most people would, I prefer to write a cheque rather than handle cash transactions. By issuing a cheque to myself and depositing it in the express cheque deposit box, I avoid having to wait for the banks to open, stand in line in Bank A to withdraw cash and then commute to Bank B only to join another long queue to deposit the money. That is, if I am lucky not to have been robbed of my money by then. I have been doing this for the past several years without any problem at all. It has saved me quite a lot of legwork and time.

Then this month, I noticed that my cheque was not cleared after one whole week. I called Bank B's hotline yesterday morning to ask what had happened. The prudent lady at the other end of the line asked me a series of verification questions to ascertain that I was indeed the rightful account owner. It was only after I managed to convince her that I was no conman that she took down my contact number and promised to call me back later.

I waited... and waited... till the end of the office day. Running out of patience, I decided to call her again. Not sensing that I was running short of patience, she tested it again by going through the whole list of verification questions again! It was only after I bursted out, "Look, I am only checking what happened to my cheque and not withdrawing a million dollars with this call" that she explained sometimes it could take one whole day to cheque check check cheque details like this. (Quite efficient hor?) She let me hear another few more minutes of soothing music (to calm my frayed nerves, I suppose). Finally, she came on and said, "Sorry, Sir. Your cheque is 'out-of-date'.

"What?", I retorted. "Out-of-date? How could that be? I only deposited it last week."

"Sir, you have dated the cheque with year '05'. We have returned the cheque to you by post."

True enough, when I reached home, I found the following returned cheque in my letter box:

I acknowlege that it was my mistake for thinking that it was still last year. No excuse for that, especially when it is already Apr 06 now. Hey, but it was an honest mistake and I am 50, which makes me forgiveable for making mistakes like that. So I continued unrelentlessly, "But I have dutifully written down my contact number behind the cheque. Why didn't you call me. If you never make use of my contact number then why did the bank always ask for it? You could have gone that extra mile in service, you know? And I would have appreciated it very much. After all, banking is a service. Good or bad makes a world of difference."

There was a short silence. (I don't think that it was because she was shocked by what I said but rather, she was probably thinking of a diplomatic and politically correct reply.) Then the lady apologised: "I am so sorry about that, Sir. We will remind the cheque clearing section to check with the customer first the next time."

Me: "Then how about my free platinum credit card which one of your relationship managers promised me one month ago? I still have not received it yet, you know?

Lady: "Sir, you have to apply for the card. Have you submitted your application yet?"

Me: "I signed a lot of forms then. Don't know whether I signed any credit card application or not."

Lady: "No problem, Sir. I'll check and call you back again."

Me thinking: (Oh no, not again.)

Incidentally, this is the same bank which I complained about a few months ago in this post. Ironically, the bank has recently signed me up as one of its priority customers. Priority? What priority? What is GEMS? "Go-the-Extra-Mile for Services" or "Gone's-the-Extra-Mile for Services"? I think I should seriously consider putting my money where there's better service rather than going for a higher interest rate. HHNNGG.


Anonymous said...

Hhmm... must be a local bank issit?

Do not cheat urself for the higher interest rate ... why go against yourself?

IMHO, SGP are too protocolish... never put in the extra miles.

Lam Chun See said...

That's your punishment for subconsciously refusing to acknowledge you are already 五张 (Hawaii-50) and still living in the past.

Right Chris?

fr said...

Hey, the 05 mistake is not related to age leh... Many pupils make this mistake when they write the date during the first month of the year...maybe the people at the bank also overlooked this..

Chris Sim said...

My dear Victor, you're into the 5th decade of your life (mind you, not 5 years hor), and you still make that sort of mistake people normally do at the turn of a new year. Hello? It's APRIL 06, ok? Still dare to make so much noise. tsk.. tsk ...tsk.

And I certainly agree with Chun See about you not acting your age. Just look at the tantrum you threw at that poor girl on the other end of the phone. What? U think your MILLION bucks in that bank very big ah? Big deal lah. Oopss..

Anonymous said...

why not use internet banking instead? i always do funds transfer that way. easier mah...unless u r worried that its not safe.

Victor said...

Anonymous, you'll be surprised - no, it's not a local bank, though local banks are not much better in terms of service, in my opinion. It's corporate colours are green and blue. Should be pretty obvious right?

Evan, Internet banking? Ya, don't think it's that safe. Didn't you hear that a few years ago, someone hacked into several Internet bank accounts of one of our local banks at got away with over $70K, I think. Until today, that guy's not caught.

Anonymous said...

Vic, you can actually set up an inter-bank fund transfer for this purpose. Some banks allow you to schedule monthly transfers too!

I believe the internet bank faud case is one-off, can see how much the banks stepped up their cyber security after that!

fr said...

Vic, I have signed up for inter-bank fund transfer between my own accounts as well as an account of my sister. It is convenient. Don't be too concerned about the fraud case, I believe it is very rare.

Victor said...

Alex and Frannxis, the inter-bank transfer that you are talking about is Giro, am I right? I do pay many of my bills by Giro - utilities, telecommunications, property tax, s&c charges, housing loan, school fees, insurance premiums, income tax and credit card bills. I also use AXS payment stations once a while. I know there are some people who don't trust Giro too and prefer to queue in line to pay their bills.

The problem with using a standing order to transfer funds between 2 accounts is that there must be regularity and certainty on the amount to be transferred. I can't transfer any amount I like as and when I like. It lacks flexibility because for some months I may not want to transfer any funds or may want to transfer less.

Victor said...

My elder son just came over to me and showed me this post about sucky service on his school teacher's blog. (My son must have been reading my blog. Good sign.)

fr said...

No, Vic, it's not GIRO. Mine is with OCBC. Once you signed up for third-party transfer, you can tranfer any amount any time subject to a daily max cap which can arranged.

Chris Sim said...

I absolutely agree with frannxis, alex and evan. Internet banking is the way to go. If you're worry about spywares, just use the PC in the office with all the firewalls in place, like I do. Oops! Pretend I didn't say that!

Anonymous said...

LOL...actually that fraud case was more like a freak incident. that victim was either stupid enough to write his PIN no. on MS word or replied to the scam email asking him to verify is acct, otherwise they will terminate him etc. then there was a phishing site which looked EXACTLY like DBS's website and many were conned. but then, i'm sure like you & me, we're not so stupid rite?

when u do internet banking, look for the little padlock sign at the bottom of the page. if its there, its encrypted using SSL so its definitely safe. and clear yr cache after u logout. i don't think this kinda fraud cases will happen anytime soon.

Victor said...

Evan, phishing and hacking are traditional ways of getting confidential info (and your money). There are other more clandestine ways. One is planting a spyware on your PC which is called a keylogger. This program will capture all your keystrokes and send it to the attacker, including what you key in as your password. Sounds very scary to me leh because you don't know when your PC has a spyware. Some anti-spyware programs cannot detect them wor.

me said...

uncle vic!! i just found a song on my pc which i used to sing like 4 yrs ago haha!

u wan to hear? its an oldie but a goodie ^^

Victor said...

Yes Etel, please send your song to me at koo_h_p@hotmail.com. Thanks. Btw, is the song sung by you? I would much prefer to hear the version sung by you rather than the commercial version.