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United Overseas Bank Malaysia / Poor customer service and slow response time

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Review updated:

I will recount my recent experience (as well as my friend's) dealing with this bank in general and not write in detail, that's to say some dates may not be exact, other details are deliberately left out for privacy reasons etc.

On 27 Dec 2009 while reviewing my UOB credit card statements via internet banking I realised, to my horror (as to why I will come to that later), that the statement date of my credit card had been changed from the 18th to the 24th, WITHOUT MY KNOWLEDGE OR CONSENT. After calling the customer service hotline in vain (it's almost midnight so I did not persist) I wrote an email to the bank demanding an explanation. The bank did not reply, I thought probably it's the festive year end so I decided to wait.

One week later, on 3 Jan 2010, I called customer service and related the whole incident, explaining that by changing the statement date from 18 to 24, I would be forced to make 2 repayments for my flexi-credit loan linked to the credit card account for the month, since the old cut-off date is 18 and the repayment debit date is 20th so the change of statement date would cause 2 repayments to be due for this month and in effect, the bank will collect the full repayment 1 month earlier than if the bank stuck with the old statement date. For example, if the first repayment was on 18 June 2009 (due 08 July) and final repayment would be on 18 May 2011 (due 08 June), the change of statement date from 18th to 24th Dec 2009 will cause me to make 2 repayments for the month which are due on 13 Jan 2010, and the bank will collect the final repayment by 13th May 2011, as opposed to 8 June 2011 under the old statement date of 18th. The bank has done me an injustice yet when I called the bank to seek advice/help all I was told is 'there's nothing that can be done by the bank'!

So after hanging up the phone, I immediately wrote a lengthy email to the bank demanding a full-on investigation and a satisfactory answer. The next day in the evening, I received a 66300 SMS "UOB: In order to better communicate to all VOX cardmembers, we have consolidated your statement date from 18th to 24th. TQ!" Seriously, I haven't got the faintest idea what that SMS was supposed to mean and how it had anything to do with better communication by means of a change of statement dates. The change only inconvenienced me as a client since I had to fork up more money to make one additional repayment. And it certainly looked like UOB was sending the SMS to me as a way to cover their ### (pardon the language) since I repeatedly asked why the bank did not formally inform me of the change beforehand.

And 2 days later on 6 Jan 2010 I finally received the scripted response from the bank acknowledging the receipt of my email dated 27 Dec 2009 and 3 Jan 2010, with the usual PR and politically correct stuff written in seeking my understanding, patience and whatnot. The Customer Communications Management officer even had the guts to promise to revert as soon as the investigation is completed.

To this date, after almost ONE FULL MONTH, at the time of writing i.e. 2 Feb 2010, the bank has not responded still, despite the fact that I wrote another email on 29 Jan 2010 checking on the status of the investigation.

What the hell is wrong with this bank? I only wanted a justification from the bank, perhaps a formal letter of apology will suffice. It's not about money and I did not even ask the bank to have the statement state reverted to 18th. It's about respect for customers' rights, about what's fair and right, that's it.

Sc
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  • Sc
      2nd of Feb, 2010

    In another unrelated case, my friend went to the UOB bank branch in person to terminate the use of her UOB credit cards in November 2009 after learning about the imposition of service tax. She intended to make gift redemption for a USB handheld fan using 5000 UNIRinggit rewards points on one of her cards so she decided to terminate the other card first. The bank officer cut her card into halves in front of her own eyes. However, my friend had acted too late and by the time she wanted to make redemption the USB fan was out of stock so she called customer service to enquire if there's anything else for redemption with 5000 rewards points. My friend thought if one thing is out of stock, the bank would surely replace another but clearly that's not the case. What's left on the shelf was some Air Miles thingy requiring 3000 pts for one redemption. My friend had 5000 pts so she pursued further and the customer service officer got impatient and with a condescending attitude, asked her to spend another RM3000 with her card so that she can redeem the 8000 pts Air Miles stuff, which is totally useless to my friend. How stupid can people get? Spend RM3000 just for the sake of redeeming something totally useless to one?

    So fine, my friend decided to forego the redemption stuff and some days later called the bank to cancel the card. The customer service officer submitted the card cancellation request for her and I think she did receive an SMS notification about it. Then to her dismay, in early Jan via internet banking she found the card to be still active, so she made another call and then things started to get dramatic. Customer service officer said card cancellation cannot be done through the phone, despite my friend telling the officer that other foreign banks such as HSBC allowed her to cancel the card through the phone with ease. And as my friend couldn't find the time to visit the bank branch she asked for alternatives. Fine, the officer asked for a scanned copy of my friend's signature and she duly did so on 12 Jan 2010. She received an email confirmation that her request was being processed. However, to her horror, on 30 Jan 2010 the credit card account that was terminated in formal writing on 12 Jan 2010 is still active, this time with the RM50 service tax charged to it. Even more horrifying is the fact that the first UOB credit card that was terminated and cut into halves by the bank staff in Nov 2009 is still active, and now with RM50 service tax charged to the account as well! How can it be you may ask? Suddenly it became clear: whatever my friend had taken the trouble to do was pointless, the bank simply refuses to terminate those cards! My friend's guess is that is just one of the tricks the bank comes up with to retain its customers, and you bet a lot of cardholders have been cancelling their cards WITHOUT SUCCESS FOR ALL KINDS OF SILLY REASONS AND EXCUSES since 1 Jan 2010.

    In my case and my friend's, we had always made a point to wanting to speak with the manager, who, I can assure you, is always a lot more professional and courteous than his/her underlings. Thank God if you get the chance to speak with one, because most likely than not your issue will be heard and attended to. Otherwise, best of luck and have fun dealing and wrangling with the customer service officers!

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