Opinion

3 Outrageous Customer Service Features of the Worst Bank I Have Ever Used

Ryan Ong

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There are three serious mistakes you can make in life, each with corresponding worse consequences: (1) getting into the wrong line of work, (2) neglecting your family, and (3) trying to reason with Stan Chart’s customer service. That way madness lies. Beyond the slow disintegration of your sanity and composure, here are other unique customer service features you will encounter:

 

1. Mostly Made-Up Time Limits

I don’t know if you read my earlier article, but to recap: I was robbed, forced to use my Stan Chart credit card, injured, and in a foreign country. So it took me a while to contact Stan Chart, and report the illegal use of my card.

And by “a while”, I don’t mean I reported it the next day. I mean I reported in 2.5 hours. While finding my way in a foreign city, with $0, and two fewer working knees than most people have.

I don’t know how much better I could have performed, under the circumstances.

Bu that just wasn’t good enough for Stan Chart, who hold me liable on account of “late reporting”. Here’s a copy of the actual letter:

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But let’s say Stan Chart is right – Let’s say 2.5 hours is too long, and I should have just grit my teeth, tapped my reserve power, and crawled like that T-800 in the first Terminator movie.

What would be a reasonable time then? An hour? 30 minutes? 10 minutes? Should we call the bank and navigate the voice menu right there and then, while fending off multiple robbers with one hand?

After repeated demands, I finally got the answer from customer service: a reasonable time frame is determined by the bank.

So in theory, if I’d reported it 15 seconds after the incident, Stan Chart could just roll their eyes and ask why, if I was going to be robbed, I didn’t just inform them in advance yesterday.

And they’d still be right on paper.

 

2. A Flagrant Disregard for Common Sense

After my first post, Stan Chart re-opened the investigation. Once the media furor died down, they called me and chirpily informed me that the investigation was over. Several high level teams had been involved, and the conclusion was that I was liable.

They’d pored over the police report in Tokyo, and conclusions are as follows:

 

(1) I’d “handed my card over” to the merchant, and signed for the transaction.

Absolutely true. I did this because the “merchant” in question applied a very persuasive sales tactic (i.e. tell me to give up the card and sign for the transaction, or else a bunch of people would be called in to beat the hell out of me).

And yes, the threat was mentioned in the report.

 

(2) The police classified the case as robbery and not fraud.

Again, rightly so, since I wasn’t being cheated. I was just outright threatened into handing over money.

Now MAS and ABS guidelines suggest the maximum liability should be $100, in a case of fraud. But this isn’t fraud. Therefore, the bank can go ahead and hold me liable for the full amount.

To clarify:

If someone skims your credit card info, your maximum liability will (probably) be $100. If someone threatens to crack your skull with a pool cue unless you let them use your card, you’ll probably end up liable for the full amount.

Let’s play a game. Anyone who can tell me what’s wrong with this gets the “Normal Human Intelligence” award.

 

3. An Inability to Tell You Transaction Locations Outside Singapore

After the robbery happened, I asked Stan Chart where the robbers had used the card.

Stan Chart swung into immediate action, by…trying to Google the name on the bill. And concluding that it was somewhere in Japan. Clearly, whoever’s in charge is the inspiration behind these Sherlock Holmes remakes.

But never mind that.

The issue now is that my case is classified as “commercial dispute”.  That’s a way of saying I have to deal with the merchant on my own.

And I’ll gladly go confront them, this time bringing my favourite weapon (a fully loaded police officer). Stan Chart’s had more than two months to track that location now, so how hard can it be?

The answer is, way harder than they can handle. And here’s why:

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In case you can’t read that, it says this major international bank can’t find the location because “the details of the merchant for the signed charge slip are in Japanese”.

At this point, I’m convinced that frog reporter on Sesame Street can probably outdo Stan Chart’s investigative team, and it’s just a damn muppet.

Let this be a warning to you: when you get robbed, don’t count on your bank being helpful. Especially not Standard Chartered.

 

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Ryan Ong

I was a freelance writer for over a decade, and covered topics from music to super-contagious foot diseases. I took this job because I believe financial news should be accessible and fun to read. Also, because the assignments don't involve shouting teenagers and debilitating plagues.