The following post was written by Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah; a woman who works for the African Women’s Development Fund, is co-founder of the award-winning blog, Adventures From The Bedrooms of African Women and MAKSI Clothing. These are only a few of her achievements.
Does she sound like a woman you would want to cross? I doubt it. Others – it seems – disagree.
Good luck to ’em.
I joined Ecobank because it proudly describes itself as a Pan-African bank, and I’m a woman with Pan-Africanist ideals.
Last year I attended a workshop in Nigeria. I took my Ecobank card, and some dollars (you know: just in case…) When my contact picked me up at the airport, I said to him, “Could we please stop at an Ecobank so I could take out some money?”
At the first ATM I was unable to withdraw any money, so he took me to a second ATM, same scenario, and then a third. I was embarrassed, ‘Oh I don’t know what’s happening, I definitely have money in my account.’ I knew taking money out of the ATM shouldn’t be an issue. I had purposely visited my bank and asked them if I could take out money in Nigeria and I had been told yes. I had previously used my Ecobank card in the United States and had experienced no issues at all. I called one of the staff at my local bank in Ghana, and he advised me to call the general customer number, and so I did. A customer rep picked up my call, promised to call me back, and never did. Thankfully those US dollars came in very handy.
I have been threatening to leave Ecobank for ages. Every so often I get on Twitter and rant about the lack of service I receive at the bank, or about waiting in a queue forever, or the unnecessary bureaucracy Ecobank (Ghanaian banks) seem to delight in.
Do you remember when Ecobank floated shares? I bought some. So did my mother, and my brother. Over the years my mother and brother have received miserly dividends – $5 here, $3 there, ohhhh and a big cash in of $7. All along I received a big fat nothing. A couple of times I went to the bank and asked, ‘So what is happening. I never get any dividends’? The response for a couple of times was, ‘Hmmm. People have been complaining. We’ll look into it for you.’ Eventually I was told, ‘You need to go to Ridge to ask about your shares’. I was irritated. Ah, how do I need to go to Ridge to ask about my shares? When I was buying these shares I didn’t need to go to Ridge but eventually I went to Ridge, and there I was told I needed to visit the Ghana Commercial Bank on the High Street if I wasn’t receiving my shares.
Have you ever visited the High Street on a regular working day? I sat in traffic for about an hour before arriving at my destination. And there we discovered the bank had made an error inputting my address. A crucial ‘2’ had been left out when my details had been entered in the system. ‘You need to go to a notary, and then the post office for x (I can’t remember what x is now).’
I lost my cool.
‘I am not going anywhere. I am not going to go and pay a notary, and then go to a post office to buy x. This is the fault of Ecobank, and I don’t see why I have to suffer for your mistakes’. A young man rushed over to the desk where I was being dealt with. ‘What seems to be the matter Madam?’ I explained the situation. ‘Please come this way’, he said.
After 10 minutes of fiddling about with paperwork and, speaking to his supervisor he said, ‘Madam I’m really sorry but you’re going to have to get the notary to sign…’ ‘Listen, I’m not going anywhere’…So another supervisor stepped in, and eventually they said, ‘Okay since the mistake was with Ecobank you need to go back there and tell them they need to change their address on their system’. And so I went back to Ecobank, and my address was changed on their system.
At this stage I wish I could say, ‘…and then Ecobank and I lived happily ever after’, but I made the mistake of making a simple mistake. I run a small business with my sister, and that small business also banks with Ecobank, and our accountant had requested that we get a copy of our statements from the date the account was open. I dutifully wrote a letter to the bank requesting for this information and dropped it off with the Enquiries desk at the Community 6 branch in Tema. When I went the following week to pick up the letter I was told, ‘Oh but you didn’t state when you wanted the statement to start from’, and so I wrote the date I needed the information from manually on the printed letter. ‘Okay when you are coming back for the statement bring another copy of the letter with all the information typed.’ And so the following week I came back with another word processed letter, and was told, ‘Just a minute please’. That minute lasted 60 minutes. I waited an hour to pick up a statement I requested 2 weeks previously.
I was fuming.
I sat there stewing in my anger. How can this be the case? At the same time I had dropped off my request at Ecobank I had gone to Zenith with the same request, and within 10 minutes I had my statements (I hadn’t needed to wait or ‘go and come’ for this information). At the end of the day I got an SMS update from Ecobank. I had been charged GHC40 for the statement printed earlier that day.
Everybody has a breaking point, and that was mine. That was the reason why I called up the customer service line to inform them that I would be closing our corporate accounts and I needed them to know the reason why. That’s the same reason why I am now shopping around for a new bank to manage my personal account.
Do you have any recommendations? Do you bank with Ecobank? What are your Ecobank horror stories? Feel free to vent in the comments box.
After all, misery loves company.
A few things have happened since we put this post up. In the name of fairness, we are bumping up from the comments below Ecobank’s attempts to right the customer service wrongs outlined above.
So please read on…
UPDATE#1 (August 19th)
Today I was visited by Ecobank’s Head of Branch Network Adobea Addo, and Area Manager for Tema, Beatrice Normanyo. They have both apologized profusely for the lack of customer service I experienced, and promise to ensure that this doesn’t happen in the future. I am impressed that Ecobank sent senior staff to come and visit me to listen to the issues I’ve had to date. I told them I will observe what happens subsequently, and for the moment will maintain my accounts with them. They also told me to let them know of any other customers who have had issues with them. I know from the comments here alone that I am not the only one so I asked for an email address that grievances could be asked to and I was given firstname.lastname@example.org
So fingers crossed. On a positive side this shows that at least some companies listen when we make our issues known publicly. Time will tell whether I grow to love Ecobank or continue to hate them At the moment I am a tad mollified.
UPDATE #2 (August 20th)
Dear Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah/Kobby Graham,
Our attention has been drawn to your publication regarding series of unpleasant service experiences you have encountered with us. We have attentively read your message and we apologise sincerely for all the service delivery shortfalls from ATM experience, share dividends and request for account statement.
Indeed the conduct of our staff for the occasions mentioned fell short of the high standards we have set for ourselves in Ecobank in the service of our clients.
Kindly accept our apologies once more.
We would appreciate an opportunity that would enable us to resolve the issues at stake and avoid a recurrence.
We humbly request that you kindly contact us through our address:email@example.com enable us to establish a contact and resolve the concerns you have raised.
Ecobank takes this opportunity to express our sincere apologies to you and to the general public for any inconveniences caused.