Holi as a festival, never fascinated me, since it was not a ritual that was part of our Tam-Brahm set up. The first instance of the madness that ensues in a Holi festival, was realised through the eyes of Bollywood (Damini-1993). It never was a festival, I wanted to know more about, until I was at B-school. The crowd at a B school is from all over the country, and given that you have a sizeable population outside of Tamil Nadu, a lot of them had made plans for Holi.

Dumping everyone in mud pools, tearing shirts, madly spraying water, applying colour in drunken revelry, was suddenly a very exciting activity. One of those rare times, when you dont quite care, what you do and how others perceive you. Men and women on campus, displayed their carnal side, when it came to Holi, and I liked people expressing themselves, breaking the shackles of the real world that makes our mind, the watchdog to our heart.

5 years after that, I got another opportunity to celebrate Holi, with colleagues and my wife. There was a pool party, Colours spraying all around within groups, and Thandai shots(So Called Bhaang).While this time the party also had music and a proper pool, the insensitivity of the hotel staff, robbed the party of the Holi Feel. But it sure is India's very own La-Tomatina! Maybe its time we marketed Holi better for in bound tourism


How Citibank India Penalises You, For Their mistake

This is an interesting incident, I wish to share on how things could go wrong with your banking provider. In this case Citibank India shows, how much they can go ahead to rub-it-in for their customer. These are excerpts from a conversation on email with their officer. The case is simple. My father had transferred a lakh of rupees by mistake to my Citibank CC account instead of my Citibank SB account. I apologised to Citibank for the wrong transfer and asked them to help me get my money back. What follows is absolute mayhem! If you have similar instances to share from Citibank or other banks, its a good time to share our concerns.

These are some of the inferences I draw

a) No Reference/Call Notes Detailed Log- Citibank India has a very poor call centre that hardly is able to track, what the previous officer said. Detailed call notes and action items are not left by the call centre people for a given account. I had to re start telling the problem on all occasions when I spoke for this issue.

b) Un-Dependable- Every time I hear an assurance from citibank, I needed to call back 2 days later that the expected process has not been followed, and I have to submit a new request all over again. Had this problem with them forgetting to re-dispatch my new card after it returned from the wrong address, after taking down a request.

c) Misaligned Possibilities- Each time I speak to their customer call agents, they seem to promise a stated action(money transfer) and then they forget about it. I need to start completely afresh and another officer contradicts what the previous agent said.

d) Rude Managers- When I asked their manager, why their process was failing, he behaved in an immature manner, and insisted that I was wrong. Don't employ 'Managers' who cant even own up mistakes, and secondly have no idea of the pulse of the frustrated customer.

e) Lack of Care/Concern for the customers situation/problem- Despite having said that I need the money at the earliest, this information never was stored in their customer account call notes. Nobody looks at the problem, and how that can be solved. I am not sure their customer service agents are well incentivised to delight the consumer, nor are they incentivised to solve problems. They are robotic humans who are trained to repeat the same words, irrespective of the emotion of customers.

f) Using Rules to Put Off the Consumer, and Transfer Blame- After 4 conversations with Citibank to get my money, and failed process attempts to initiate the transfer, Citibank adds my excess cash directly to their monthly bill, and then says that they will pay me a reduced amount, and that too in draft mode, instead of previously agreed account transfer.

"I had borrowed a loan of 100,000 from my dad for some urgent expenses. He was to transfer it to my Citibank savings account, but transferred it to by Citibank Credit Card account by mistake[from his Lakshmi Vilas Bank Account]. I realised this, and checked with Citibank on the 4th of March. They said the money still had not hit the card. I had asked the officer, if the money could be reversed. The officer said 'YES'. I called on 6th March-Wednesday, to check for reversal of money to my dad's account( Lakshmi Vilas Bank). A new officer picked up the phone and then said that REVERSAL is not possible, and he will deduct the running balance on the card, and give me 66,000, and that too in a draft in 3-4 business days( which is about 6 days if you add weekend) I was livid, and asked for his supervisor and told about the urgency of the situation, and that I need the money at the earliest. 

The supervisor asked me to submit a bank certificate scanned copy that gave proof of my dad's money transfer from Lakshmi vilas Bank to Citibank Credit Card account. He also had said that he would make this transfer to my Citibank savings account, for the complete amount-100,000. This bank certificate was obtained on the 7th of March from Lakshmi Vilas bank, and sent to Citibank's mentioned email ID on the 8th of March 2013. I expected that this would be processed, but when I called on the 11th of March, it had still not been processed.

I was again told by a lady officer, that she will send the remaining amount(not 1 lakh, but 66K odd) in a draft mode. I had to restart all the 'Ramayan' from the beginning about the case, and then she assured me that she will transfer the full amount (100,000) to my Citibank Savings account, and gave me a transaction reference number-7465, assuring me that the money will hit my bank account by Wednesday(13th March), and in the rare case that it does not, I should allow for one more day(14th of March). 

On the 14th of March, when I call, I am told by officer on the phone, that the billing was done on the 11th of March, and they have rejected the request for money transfer. I was not informed of this, until I called Citibank. I am under the impression that the money was on its way, but Citibank has not chosen to inform their consumer, despite their consumer saying how important and urgent the money was to him.

The officer starts the same process, saying that they will again put in a request to process a draft for the remaining amount(66k). They say, since the bill was generated, they cannot do anything to give me a lakh of rupees. My contention is that I have had 4 conversations with them before the bill was generated, and it is Citibank's mistake off adding the excess amount to my bill.

Your manager, Mr Devesh instead of reacting in a mature manner, behaves in a very petty manner,when I tell him the problem and point this as Citibank's mistake in billing me, when they have assured me that they will transfer the money. He comes and says why was the wrong transfer made? While the question may be valid, I have apologised on the phone on the 4th of March for the wrong transfer and it was Citibank, who gave me assurances that the money transfer/Reversal was possible, and even gave me a reference number for the same. Mr Devesh also goes on to impatiently say that he needs to have a conclusion on this call, and says he will get back, and secondly he also says that Citibank never promises anything on a call, and they just take in a request for the service. For a consumer to hear this, after 6 conversations, I am now forced to believe that speaking with a officer in your call center is going to be a waste of time, as per Mr Devesh's statements.He is not able to answer, when I ask him, why does the process fail in every call, where detailed call notes are not available for the customer service executive on what happened in the previous call. 

All I ask for now, after 11 days of conversation with Citibank is to please return my money in totality (100,000) to my citibank savings account. I don't want to be penalised for mistakes that citibank has with its faulty processes. If this is the way, you treat a customer, who has annual spends of 6-7 Lakhs on this card, for the past 3 years, I am most certain that Citibank is on a downward spiral on doing Credit Card business operations in India. 

Expecting a quick solution, to this problem.

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