HDFC Bank - "We understand your world" - Really?

24 Oct 2011

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Why this post?. What is it that I want to communicate to the world about HDFC Bank?. Just my recent bitter experiences with HDFC. I have been banking with HDFC for the past 7 years. I am one of the high-value card members who always pay in full and never defaulted a single payment in my life. Here is what happened…

I came back from California on 21-Jun-2011, stayed in Bangalore for two days and I went for a vacation for my brother’s marriage. Very unfortunately, I lost my HDFC Platinum credit card 5243-XXXX-XXXX-8957 on 23-Jun-2011 and took a new mobile number in Chennai. I did not use the card for the past 6 months and I almost forgot the email statements. My new mobile number is not updated in HDFC Bank records. :)

Someone used my card like his own and purchased items from Jewelry, Dish TVs, Mobile phones, MP3 players, Shoes, Sarees, Schoolbags for kids and even groceries for about Rs. 1 lakh. Even I did not use my card like this. OK. So far, so good.

I got the statement on 25-Jul-2011 and I was very much surprised to see the transactions and realized that I lost my card. I called up HDFC Bank and blocked the card immediately. HDFC Bank advised me to file an FIR with the police station. I went to HAL police station and surprised to know that the police NEVER file an FIR for credit card loss. The police push these cases under Section 403. Banks know this. Hmmm… I got an acknowledgment from the Police and formally registered a complaint with Risk Control Unit of HDFC Bank. Ref # ULRL1208110009224. RCU informed me that they will start the investigation and I do not need to pay anything till the investigation is over. I was very happy :)

Meanwhile, I got the next month’s statement with all the transactions + interest + late payment charges, followed by a phone call from HDFC Customer Care(?). The guy on the phone was very harsh, shouted at me for not paying the dues. I got pissed off and shouted at him left and right. I called up RCU to check and they said that their investigation systems and the statement generation systems are not in sync and they do not work together. They asked me to ignore the statements and the phone calls until the investigation is over. I was like $!@#$%^&. *Why don’t you guys work together?

After a few weeks, Mr. Prakash collected the details of all the merchants and the video footage of the thief from the CC TV of the last merchant, where the card is declined. Here is the video.

(The guy in the white shirt behind the red shirt is the thief. He stays somewhere near Kadugodi in Bangalore. Anyone happens to see him, please call Premkumar Masilamani @ xxx-xxx-xxxx. Thank You!)

So far so good. Mr. Prakash promised me to accompany to the Police station and file an FIR with the pieces of evidence that it’s not a loss, but a fraud too. Three weeks passed and no response from him after repeated calls and SMS. Meanwhile, I was sending emails to HDFC bank for the same. Mr. Madhu was assigned to this case and he took me to Airport Road Police Station. He said they are his friends and will investigate without FIR. I insisted on an FIR.

He said, “The card was lost near ITPL and you stay in Marathahalli. Both the areas do not come under this police station. So, they cannot file an FIR. The HAL Police won’t be of much help. That’s why I brought you here. If you don’t like, pay the entire amount to HDFC Bank. Your choice !”.

I was a little surprised when Mr. Madhu asked me to pay Rs.3000 to the police to start the investigation. The question put to me by the bank representative was

Would you like to pay Rs. 1 lakh to the bank or Rs. 3000 to the police?. Since they do this for you off the record, you need to pay for their travel expenses.

Argument from Mr. Madhu (an HDFC Bank Representative). I paid to Mr.Venkata Swamy @ Airport Road Police Station. Yes. I did. I just wanted this to get over. But the Police is still searching the thief (as of 23-Oct-2011).

While all these are happening, my credit card statement was filled with interests and late payment charges (remember, I was advised by RCU that I need not make any payments). I was not sure how long this case is going to continue. So, I sent an email to the bank stating that “Please cancel all the interests / whatever charges that the Bank imposed on my account and convert all the transactions into EMI (without interest). I will pay the EMI of the credit card theft amount.”

HDFC Bank promptly replied, “We regret to inform you that we are unable to process your request for conversion of the said transaction into Equated Monthly Installments. We sincerely regret the inconvenience caused to you as we are unable to accede to your request at this point in time. We request our cardholders to effect required payment toward the card dues to avoid levy of applicable bank charges.”

Both the HDFC Bank and I know that it was a fraud on my card. I don’t want HDFC Bank to lose money because of my carelessness. I offered to pay the entire amount, knowing that the thief may not be caught at all. All I asked is just to remove the interests and other charges. Is that too big a request to HDFC bank?.

Lessons Learnt from this Credit Card Fraud:

What HDFC Bank Could have done better?

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