I read an article in the Newspapers sometime ago, about 3–weeks ago. The article talked about how Nigerian Banks rip off their customers – mainly by providing services that don’t work, and yet deducting service charges from customer accounts.
This is my own story. My question is: to whom can we complain?
It took me about 6–months to get an ATM card from the UBA branch closest to my place of work. I had opened and been using my account in Abuja, and recently moved to Lagos only to start hearing stories: first, that I can only get an ATM from ‘my branch’; second, that I must write a letter to my Abuja branch, instructing them to write a letter to UBA head office in Lagos. Then, that the UBA HQ in Lagos will now take action and transfer my Abuja-account to Lagos. Later I started feeling as if I was some celebrity. I was like…duh!!! Next, they said their cards were exhausted – for over a month. At another time, they said I should fill up an application form, which I did. I was told to come back every now and then, etc. At a particular time, I lost total interest. Their stories were beginning to sound sickening, and I was totally bored. I kept on wondering if these banking officers know the definition of I.T. Where did ‘my branch’ start from.
Honestly, I haven’t been interested in the ATM thing, because of a number of stories I’ve been hearing from right and left. Anyway, about a week ago, I got the ATM card. I decided to test it today. Off to UBA I went, and straight to their ATM machine. My attention was taken away by a guy who was complaining that he did a ‘balance inquiry’ only for N500.00 to be deducted from his account-balance. He went inside the bank to make a complaint. The next lady in-line slotted in her ATM card, only for the thing to start making some loud noise, as if it was a fire alarm. Besides the fact that the automated announcements were so loud and boring, in short, she wasn’t able to do anything. She too went inside the bank. I crossed over to the next ATM since it just went vacant.
Slotting in my ATM card, I decided to first change my PIN, as a first-time user. Fine, the PIN change was successful, and I got a receipt. Next, I decided to do a ‘balance-inquiry’ only to be informed “you have selected an invalid account number”. I kinda wondered what the message had to do with ‘slotting in my ATM card’, since obviously I didn’t ‘select any account number’. After two tries, with no way forward, I proceeded inside the bank to make a complaint.
As I stood, awaiting the UBA staff to finish with her present customer, I overheard the last sentence she made: you can withdraw at the counter, but you’ll be charged NGN100(One-Hundred Naira), for every withdrawal below NGN20,000(Twenty-thousand Naira).
After she was done, I was next. My conversation with her went something like:
Tux: good afternoon ma, my card isn’t working.
Lady: hhmm, which branch did you get the card from?
Tux: right here, you are the one who gave it to me.
Lady: when did you get the card?
Tux: last week Thursday, about a week ago.
Lady: what message did the ATM machine give you?
Tux: it said something like…you have selected an invalid account number.
Lady: ah ok. The problem is the Network.
Tux: which network
Lady: the general network.
Tux: Network, but I was able to change my PIN number.
Lady: Yes, you can always change your PIN number anytime. You can check back next week. Actually, it takes about 2–weeks after the card is issued before you can use it to withdraw.
….I was like, ehen, ah ok.
Tux: I heard you telling the other guy that he’ll be charged a hundred naira if he withdraws less than NGN20,000.00(twenty thousand naira)
Lady: Yes, yes, thats the rule.
Tux: since when has this been happening? you mean hundred naira has been deducted from my account every time I withdrew since last year?
Lady: Well, yes, didn’t you know? The rule started last year ending.
Tux: hhmmm, anyway. Now your machine isn’t working and i’ll have to withdraw over the counter. So, ill be charged hundred naira because your machine isn’t working?
Lady: sir, please, just bear with us. Hopefully by Monday, the Network will be back.
Tux: Ok, thanks.
…then I went thinking: ‘please bear with us, hopefully by Monday, the Network will be back’. I looked at the long line before me and thought: for every petty-withdrawal today, a hundred naira has been / will be deducted from the account numbers of all those / these people, who have decided to ‘bear with us till Monday’ since the ATM machine isn’t working, and have decided to use the counter.
After I was attended to at the counter, on my way out, I beheld a couple of men and women, who didn’t know the real deal yet, and who were complaining that their ATM cards weren’t working. I was like………you’re soon gonna loose a hundred bucks each if you need some cash.