There is no doubt that the quality of banking services in Nigeria has improved quite considerably.
There was a time when bank customers stood in long queues for hours waiting to cash cheques drawn on their own accounts in over-crowded banking halls; it used to take a whole week or more to process local cheques and more than 21 working days to clear inter-city cheques!
Everyday banking operations were performed manually then. All that is now history, many thanks to IT and the general advancements in banking practice where the new operational ethos is efficient and instantaneous services.
It is however unfortunate that not all the banks have fully keyed into this new business culture and, in this regards, Union Bank Plc is an inscrutable straggler.
It appears to be suffering from an unusually degenerative inability to keep pace with evolving industry standards, an unfortunate development which necessarily impacts negatively on its customers and shareholders both of which I am one.
Customer, they say, is “King” and any corporate entity that fails to satisfactorily meet the needs of its customers is not likely to survive in today’s extremely competitive business environment.
The same glacial-like descent into moribundity such as happened in the larger Nigerian governing system is also possible in the corporate world, excepting that business misdemeanours are not always the subjects of beer-parlour gossips as it is often the case in politics.
Union Bank may claim that it is “big”, “strong” and “reliable” but my personal experience, amply corroborated by those of others, indicate that in spite of the various reforms that have taken place in that sector, it remains an exceptionally primitive entity.
A bank that still manifests the antediluvian go-slow “Tally Number” mentality, characterised by an all-pervading nonchalance and a demonstrable lack of business ethics at this era clearly constitutes “clear and present danger” to itself and its corporate community, economically speaking.
On the 28th of February, 2020, I made some online orders with a Union Bank Mastercard. Within minutes of the order, I discovered that I have mistakenly included an item which I bought earlier and I immediately cancelled the item from the order list and, as usual, Amazon straightaway informed me of the success of my cancellation and then issued another invoice which reflected the new order via an email dated 29th of February, 2020.
When later I checked my account, I noticed a considerable difference between the value of what I ordered and the balance expected on it and I quickly emailed a “To Whom it may Concerned” letter to its Customers Service, stating that what I am seeing as “balance” on my account does not reflect the value of the transaction that I have just made.
I was replied through an email signed by a certain Mr. Abuchi Okoye admitting that “there is a hold” on my account because of an “online transaction done using your Mastercard yesterday in which we are yet to receive the clearing message from the merchant”. I replied that the merchant has since issued another invoice reflecting the new reduced value of my invoice which the bank is only obliged to honour.
In another email dated the 29th of February, 2020, I was asked to forward the email from the merchant showing the successful cancellation of that order which I did immediately.
A print-out of my statement also did not help. I should also emphasis here that I have had cause in the past to timeously cancel some online orders (made through other Nigerian banks) and there has never been any problem like this.
I made several phone calls, visited the bank and wrote emails demanding for a refund but nothing sensible came out of all my communications with them.
Take, for example, a letter which I signed off as “Professor Michael A. Ikhariale, (which is the name with which I opened and operate the account) being carelessly responded to as “Dear Prof Michael”. That is an unpardonable misnomer in any serious business communication because I am not Prof Michael.
– Daily Independent