Kenyans might not always agree with each other on at least a tangible list of things that some may refer to as touchy subjects. Even so, habits still bind us ‘last-minute-iosis’ is one of them. We can all relate to last minute rash in our day to day operations; texting you are running late when you are already late, cancelling plans the last minute, finishing up assignments at the 11th hour, last minute travels and now the most common one payment of bills at the last hour.
Any establishments that set payment deadlines may it be banks, educational institutions or service providing company offices always have to handle endless crowds of people seeking to get services.
Maybe you might be wondering why I am still on last minute rash syndrome and maybe you are already blaming me for being one of those Kenyans (well, I really don’t have a choice) but hear me out first. Day 5 of every month could give the same reaction to my fellow taxpayers who are also rent payers may it be office or house rent. The lords give the day as deadline lest your house might just be locked up. Electricity and bills also fall in the same category explaining the long crazy queues.
Saturday October 4 came along as a normal day running errands in town and of course footing my monthly bills was expected to be on the day’s to-do list. I needed more money to see all my errands through. I always avoid the M-pesa agents’ hustle of having to present my original ID copy, (which I didn’t have on this very day) having to write down details, sign, go through the hustle of handing the agent my phone to verify whether the money really belongs to me when I can just use an automated machine which dispenses money after pressing a few buttons. Thank God banks have also embraced mobile banking platforms which can easily be accessed without necessarily having to visit the agents.
Related: M-PESA is notorious in this
So I dashed into a Family bank ATM along Moi Avenue to proceed with my transaction like I have always done. After feeding in details on the automated machine, you can almost hear it count the notes on the other side, which tells you the money will be out in seconds. So the wait exceeded the usual and I began to freak out, it kept counting and counting which attracted weird glances from people waiting to use the machines of course wondering how much I was withdrawing and finally, a receipt pops out reading ‘transaction could not be completed’ and the machine began to beep aloud notifying me the machine could not dispense any cash. This was a special case because all other transactions went through. It was Just a bad day on my end.
The security officer was happy to lead me to the bank’s responsible department the ATMs section where the lady behind the counter asked me to fill forms to verify the transaction. For a minute I thought this was just ridiculous but just assumed this would be for records sake and would have nothing to do with my money. Happy I had filled the forms and the reversal would now take hours, the lady writes few details on the papers, stamps and handing me nothing, she asks me to get back to them after a week. Yes one whole week.
I was quick to ask the reason for that much time for a simple reversal transaction and so unmoved, she told me that was usual in fact, I should be glad she didn’t ask me to come after a month. This was reason enough to get furious and feel so uncatered for. Back to our last minute chat, many of us wait until money runs out completely in order to withdraw more cash. Luckily, I was not one of those Kenyans on that day so I had fare back home. However, this would mean not paying bills and leaving in the fear of coming from work and Viola! an extra lock on my door.
See also: Bank to avoid
Immediately, I called Safaricom who were obviously sorry for the mishap and even sorrier since they would offer me no help at all owing to the fact that the transaction was okay on their end but bounced of Family Bank’s end. This meant I have to deal with this very financial institution that was literally not ‘with me for life’ as their motto/tagline suggests
I chose to be patient, one thing that is hard to do when YOUR money is in question. After a week, I walked back the bank so happy knowing I would get my money and call it Truce. Just as I was waiting to be served, I spotted my college colleague who I haven’t seen for a long while and with how things run in the country I counted myself lucky since he would definitely hasten this process with just a brief chat and exchange of contacts, I felt a kind of relief.
On getting to the counter, I reminded the lady who had no clue what failed transaction I was talking about which I understood owing to the fact that bank personnel have bulk to deal with. She finally caught up and she couldn’t remember whether she had dealt with it or not. I still gave her benefit of the doubt then came the bombshell. The reversal could still not go through as she claimed. I was fast to interrupt asking what would take it too long yet it was already past a week.
She went ahead to explain how hard it was since this were two companies dealing and they had to consult which I agree to but are we not in the digital era? Where I can withdraw and deposit money at the comfort of my home and also transfer money to different accounts? What would take two companies with up to date technology that long to make a single reversal? Are they sending letters? Do they have to refer to big old black books? Do they consider customer interest when partnering other institutions or is it for their own business reasons? This was the disappointment of a life time and I could hardly believe what she was blaming the delay on. Quite insulting the teller told me that the process could in no way go my way and so I had to be patient with the two parties. She told me to come back after another week which getting back my money would be a maybe but after one month I would be sure to get the amount back.
Once again, I have to worry about unpaid bills and pilling interest due to delay. I decided to get to the bottom of this by calling up my colleague who had promised to help me out. The situation even got worse; he talked of an email process that first has to go to the Head of Department who would later communicate to Safaricom then that way I would get my money.
He was keen to remind me that the staff members forget to take care of reversal issues which reminds me my work colleague just got called by a CEO from a renown bank asking the right site to download ‘Angry Birds’ just in case you don’t know, it has nothing to do with the banking industry. It’s a game, an addictive one for that matter. This is how my reversal transaction was neglected and I had to create all this excuses of not delivering payments in good time.
I have had similar cases of ATMs failing to dispense cash yet deducting from account with Equity and Pesa Point and I must say I was pleased to have my money back in a few hours and more so concern from the responsible crew. Family bank saw no need of concern since this was just a normal case by a normal bank client who really holds no water compared to the big wigs. Even before upgrading their technology status, Family bank should look into courtesy and customer satisfaction then we can now talk use of modern modes of communication and deployment of more labour if the work is too much to handle. That will do for a better banking industry.