Friday, April 29, 2011

Private Banking and Senior Citizens

Last weekend I visited my parents and spent some time with my grandfather. As I was about to leave, he handed me a few envelopes and said, " Let me know if these make any sense to you.". One look at the envelope, I knew it was a welcome kit for a savings account from a private bank. I was taken aback that he (at the age of 81) opened a new account. Knowing that I would ask this, he explained, "This guy from the bank came home and said he was referred to me by my friends in the laughter club. They all have opened accounts with the bank and blabbered something about what the bank had to offer. He spoke with such speed that I did not fathom even a single word. Then he asked me to sign at some hundred places on a form and asked for a cheque of 5K. Given that my friends had already done it, I gave in. "

"But ... ok.. so whats the problem now?"

"I dont have anything that says that this account belongs to me and how much money I've in there."

"hmm... ok. So what do I do with these envelopes ?"
"See if it is written any where of how much balance I've and get me to close the account."

Two days later, he called me - "Send the envelopes back asap. I need them."
"Ok. But what happened?"
"I got a call from the bank and the guy is going to come today to collect money."
"Collect money for what?"
"One lady from the bank called me today and said that I've not made any transaction for 30 days so they are going to charge me Rs. 150 and deduct that from my account. $###### ... they never told me this and if they did, are they expecting me to remember this at this age?? Cant they write it in all those crappy papers that they sent? I read every single line in there and it is not written anywhere. Moreover, this lady tells me today that their bank does not give any passbook ! What kind of a bank is this?? How on earth am I supposed to know how much money I've and is the bank even giving me any interest?? And you know what she said? ... Sir, you can get all this information via Net banking or Mobile banking or at any nearest ATM.... now these are even more alien to me ! "

His questions got me thinking. All of them are genuine from his perspective. He always had a passbook that not only told him his balance but also gave him all the rules and regulations of operating the account. No banking transaction ever happened orally or on phone .. forget net ! His insecurity for this hard-earned money is understandable. Can they not take care of these at least in case of "Senior Citizen" accounts? With all banks harping on being customer-friendly, are they forgetting / failing to understand the psychology of their target customers?

It is agreed that India has a huge penetration of mobile and to a great extent that of internet but the consumers using these heavily are not 81 yr olds. Don't we need to get the basics right while we come up with plans like "senior citizen account" and all that?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Closing on 2010

I was pretty upset over the fact that Amit and I didn't make a road trip all throughout 2010. Of course, we did do it while we were in the US but that was just one. So when I got that last chance, I was more than happy to grab it. On the 31st, Amit had an off, I decided to take one, Amit's cousin Gaurav didn't have any placement talks / tests and Aai-Baba had a free day without any class or doctor's appointment - making it a perfect day for a road trip. I was expecting this and was thinking of places we could go. Though we all agreed and jumped on the idea of the trip, it took us 8 am on the 31st to decide the place - Kaas plateau and lake.

Since all websites told me that there aren't any good eateries enroute and I've to keep away from unhygienic places, packing up lunch was the first thing that started Aai's & my day. Bean-sprout veggie, curd rice and chapatis was the menu. As you can imgaine, it was 10.45am by the time we left home. Just as we left, Baba remembered that the grocery delivery fellow may drop by later in the day, so we made a detour to the grocery store to inform him. Finally we set out via Warje to NH-4 at around 11 am. Without stopping anywhere except for confirming the route, we headed straight to Kaas. As expected, it took us around 2.30 hrs to reach Kaas plateau. The plateau was fairly barren but the weather was awesome. The wind was just-enough chilly, extremely fresh and there was no noise / chaos. Such a peaceful environment. We did miss the Kaas valley flowers but the serenity and peace made it up. The lunch by the lake tasted better than ever. with a few exceptions, the lake was clean. At around 3pm, we started back. Gaurav wanted to visit Thoseghar waterfalls but Baba wanted to be back home just to be sure that the trip does not become and overload for his already aching joints. Gaurav was visibly disappointed.

As we hit NH-4, I had this urge of having the strawberry ice-cream at Mapro Garden in Mahabaleshwar. Now that it was my wish, there was no reason for consensus ! Amit took the 2nd exit to Mahabaleshwar. 20 kms crossing the ghat, we were at mapro and ordered the day's special Strawberry creme with fresh strawberries and icecream. Gaurav's expression said it all! The ice-cream was just too good ... worth the drive (at least for me, Amit and Gaurav!).

We left Mahabaleshwar at around 7 and were home by 9. Aai and I cooked mutter curry and corn pulav to welcome the new year. Amit was too exhausted.. understandably he was constantly behind the wheel with no one to relieve him and he has been out-of-touch of these long drives!!

All I could dream of was more n more road trips in 2011 !