Tag, you’ve had it!

“7208052999 on call missed a giving by balance Fastag Bank HDFC your check can you now customer dear.”


No, this is not a new language I am promoting.

Try calling my favourite HDFC Bank’s service numbers and I assure you that you will be able to hear, read, repeat a sentence backwards, as I was able to, after hearing the same message 23 times (OK I could be off by a few percentage points) during a 6-minute call. And when I say call, what I actually mean is “call” in the widest sense of the term. Because I did not speak a word.

The first time the message was voiced, what I heard was, ““Dear customer, now you can check your HDFC Bank Fastag balance by giving a missed call on 7208052999.”

And thereafter it all went south.

Now, mind you, this is HDFC Bank we are talking about. One needs to be pretty sharp and alert when one initiates a call to them. It is not for the weak. Your intelligence will be assaulted from multiple sides.

Like mine was.

Just about a minute into the call I was told that I was 3rd in the queue and my wait time was expected to be 1 minute.

“Good ol’ HDFC,” I said to myself as I gulped down my coffee waiting for a call executive to address me over the phone any moment.

I swatted away a few of the identical messages while I waited for the executive. I would have swatted away 4 or 5 of them when I was told that I was 6th in the queue and that my wait time would be 1 minute.

I had a suspicion that even though 6 was a bigger number than 3, the movement was not in the right direction. But good ol’ HDFC took care of that for me by telling me that my wait time had not changed. Solid as a rock HDFC. Never waver in their statements. More than a minute after they told me that my wait tome would be one minute, they had made sure it was still one minute, position in queue be damned.

After another minute my position had become 3rd once again. Reassuringly, my wait time was still one minute. The repeated message was beginning to get jumbled up by this time.

Another minute plus and, guess what?

My position in the queue? It was 2nd.

And wait time? One minute, what else? Surely you could guess that.

And just as I had begun to clear my throat in anticipation of speaking to a human, the call ended.

Yes, ended.

I checked my phone; the total duration had been about 6 minutes.

What is a loyal customer to do in such a case?

What else, call again. I called their number 1-800-120-1243, that appeared listed as ”Shopnservice” on my phone. This call was made at about 4:50 PM on the 9th of March.

And HDFC Bank did not disappoint.

At the 1 minute 20 second mark, I was told that my queue position was 1, with a wait time of…you will not believe it; 1 minute.

At 2 minutes and 32 seconds I was 3rd in the queue.

At 3 minutes 43 seconds I was 3rd once again.

At 4 minutes 58 seconds I was still 3rd.

And at 6 minutes and 8 seconds I was 1st in the queue.

And each time my wait time was advised to me as 1 minute.

Is there any wonder that HDFC Bank is identified as a systemically-important institution in the nation today. Solid as a rock. Wait time…always 1 minute.

Just as I was preparing to do a celebratory lap around the house for reaching the 1st place in the queue, the call disconnected.

Before I forget, Fastag is the universal stored value card for paying road toll in the country and can be issued by multiple organizations, one of them HDFC Bank, all linked to the national system.

Why would I need to call the Fastag helpline?

Because I needed to ask them to refund the value in the card as I sold the car on which it was affixed.

Should I call a third time?

My hands are trembling. Can I handle more excitement for the day?

“Tag, you’re it” is passe.

Update on 19th March:

The world is changing. Last weekend I received a call from someone (sorry I have forgotten the name) apologizing for the inconvenience, explaining that other customers also faced similar issues (not sure how that helped me?) and assuring me that the account would be closed and the money refunded soon. He was also quite specific and said by Thursday. Brave man! He asked if I could confirm once I had received the credit.

I was out of town and said I was not in a position to take down his number and make a note. He offered to call back to recheck.

Looks like HDFC Bank now hires people who can converse and even understand what a customer says. As opposed to people dumping their apologies and vanishing. Are they trying to take the fun out of banking with them??

I received a call yesterday from the gentleman once again. He apologized for not calling on Friday and asked if I had received the money. I check my account and voila, it was there! What is one to do now?

HDFC Bank does seem to have some sensible people is what I can make out.

22 thoughts on “Tag, you’ve had it!

  1. And the “hold” music is usually horrible as well. I think all customers should send bills for their waiting and disconnection times to these institutions. Our time is money, too! 😀

    • We customers are never satisfied it seems. Just when call centres replaced hold music with 23 repetitions of the same message,, we have a problem with that too! We just don’t know what we want. What is a poor call centre to do?

  2. Recently the Canadian tax department (CRA) added a new feature to help customers find answers on their confusing website. So they provided a chatline. I asked if they could provide me with the security code I needed to file my annual tax return. The ‘assistant’ provided links to the various services, which did not answer my question. This went on for quite a while. So I called the virtual assistant a useless tool, and the assistant answered that he/she did not understand my question. Then I knew I had communicated with a mindless robot.

    • I really don’t know how many businesses have reached the self-serving conclusion that chatbots are a service. We are reaching a point where humans will need to be trained on how to interact with bots. I also feel that the proliferation of useless tools will make us value human interaction once more. Fingers crossed 🙂

  3. This certainly sounds like a challenge to beat the HDFC bank. If nothing more than to aggravate them or better yet to publicize their immoral actions. Best yet, call them to yank your money out of their shady hands.

    • From what I have understood they are at the top of their game and may not need aggravation to further improve service. Their customer service model is likely to be adopted for business school case study.

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