In Accra, not an hour goes by on local radio and television without an advert of a bank promoting some sort of portion for the financial ills of residents. The banks here will lend you money for almost everything these days. There is money for mortgages, cars, weddings, funerals, televisions and even blenders. The adverts are to attract new customers and prevent existing ones from switching.
It didn’t use to be like that, the banks didn’t really care about whether one moved banks or not. There weren’t that many banks to start with and there weren’t a lot on offer either. In 2002 when I went to University in Cape Coast, it was almost impossible to open an account at the local Barclays bank. There were so many requirements that would put any student off but we had no option than to maintain a two hundred cedis minimum balance. It was the same process at the next bank.
I have no idea how businesses survived but I suspect they didn’t get it any easier than we did as students. But there were no complaints because no radio or television adverts had promised us the best products and services if we banked with them. We endured their crappy services and products till the Nigerian banks came into town along with the South Africans, the Indians, the Libyans and some new Ghanaian banks.
They did things differently. There was the fact one can open an account with no money. There are mortgages, at extortionist rates but we will thrill to any bank that offers the funeral and wedding loans. Ghanaians loves to party and nothing says a good party than a huge ‘going away’ party for the dead. And to set them apart, some banks promised impeccable customer service. Or so we thought.
In my first bank, displayed in bold print over the counter is the Managers number. It reads, ‘for complaints, call the manager on 1234,’ sadly attempts to lodge complaint about their non-performing ATM machines on phone have gone unanswered. The number works, only no one answers, not the manger, not a PA, or an automated answering service is there to hear about their poor services. The endless treks around town to find a working ATM wasn’t the reason why I changed banks.
It was when they restricted the use of their visa cards from any online transaction. Apparently online fraud was high and they couldn’t protect me or trust that Amazon.com was secure enough, so they canceled it without checking to see if I had made any orders.
I am unto my third bank now, and I am considering a move already. I get paid between the 15th and 20th of every month and usually the money should get to Ghana in three days. But it doesn’t, my last salary was sent on the 17th and I received it on the 15th of the following month. I have tried to put up with all their inadequacies like the long wait in the banking hall, the faulty ATMs-an affliction all the banks here seem to share and the ‘you are-not-to ask-for-manager’ unless you want are worth millions attitude.
I’m not the only one who receives appalling service from my bank and yet sees adverts saying otherwise. I have heard horror stories from family and friend, from high interest rates on loans, ATM fraud, slow service, delays in banking halls to rude client service personnel. And like me, these people do not care for fancy adverts, they just want quality service.