Thursday, August 22, 2013

Banco de Oro: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Are you a Banco de Oro client?

Doing business with Banco de Oro has left me with mixed feelings. In a span of three years, I have opened two different bank accounts with two different bank branches and my experience has been like night and day.

Three years ago I opened a Passbook Savings Account at BDO's Pasong Tamo branch, and the customer service there made me a BDO convert, especially compared to the neighboring red-and-white bank next door which was just always packed with people and miserable looking tellers. After I got back from the U.S., I opened another savings account at their BF Resort branch, and wanted to strangle everyone who worked there. The service couldn't get any worse - they should get a plaque that says, " The Most Awful BDO Branch Ever."

The Good:
I loved the people at BDO's Pasong Tamo branch! Everyone was friendly and accommodating from the very start. I was briefed on what to expect when I opened my savings account, what would happen if I closed my account, they helped me set up my e-Banking account,and  let me know who I could call in case I needed anything else (their personal number, mind you, not the crappy call center). Like all clients who you expect to build a long-term relationship with, the bankers there knew me by name, they even knew the people who would make deposits on my behalf, and would teasingly scold me if I didn't make a deposit for that month. Sorry naman.

They were very quick at processing payments, and when the bankers at the desk would see the tellers swamped with the long queue, they would start calling people to their desks to transact quick, one-off payments. I love that they take the initiative and be pro-active about helping each other out. This should be made mandatory for all branches.

Alas, I ended up closing my savings account as I didn't think I'd be coming back to the country for a while and I needed all my funds for a very long U.S. trip.

The Bad:
When I got back and started working as a writer, having a BDO savings account was a requirement for some companies I freelanced for, as it was easier for them to transfer money that way. Remembering my awesome BDO experience at the Pasong Tamo branch, I opted to open an ATM savings account at a BDO branch that was closer to my friend's place that I frequented - the BF Resort branch. Jericho had warned me about how much they sucked balls, but I was determined to not let his badgering about their poor service ruin the memories I had of their exemplary Pasong Tamo branch.

Turns out, he was right. BDO's BF Resort branch has to be the worst banking institution I have ever been to. I went in and sat down in front of the New Accounts teller and she while she me wait for 20 minutes while she just went on her other tasks, pretending like I wasn't there. Umm... hello? Do you not want me to open an account?

When she finally got to me, she handed me a sheaf of papers to fill out, takes a lot at my bank account details and goes, "Ay, nagka-account na pala kayo dati sa BDO." "Yes, I did. What of it ?" She didn't say anything else, but gave me this look that kind of said, "I don't want you opening an account here since you already came from another branch." No smile, no other questions - I felt like I was being treated like I was called in at a police station or something. When I finished filling everything out, all I got was an, "Ok na." She was annoyingly curt. I had to ask when I could pick up my card, since she was trying to get rid of me so fast, she forgot to tell me when to come back. She simply said to come back after a week without even looking up from what she was doing. I get that she was busy, but come on, that's no excuse to not treat the people that want to do business with your branch with a bit of decency. At least look at me when you talk. Is this the kind of shitty customer service to expect in suburbia?

I went back three times in a span of a month: Once to get my ATM card (it took me over an hour to get - whilst sitting in front of the teller like a retarded idiot - and another hour to enroll in e-Banking), and two other times to make deposits. Both times the queue was ridiculous, and I ended up wasting at least an hour of my time waiting to be attended to. In the meantime, I could overhear the manager of the branch talking on her mobile, asking whoever it was on the other line what they had for lunch. Oh, and she just wouldn't get off the damn phone.

Needless to say, I closed my account with them after that. I had plans of opening a business account at the end of the year, but the experience I've had with BDO's BF Resort branch was just so terrible, I would rather take my business elsewhere.

The Ugly:
So once again, here I am in search of a decent BDO branch to open up a savings account with (and possible a business account as well), a branch that treats you like an actual person and not a number in a sea of people. I'm thinking the BGC branch would be my best bet, as they probably have better training when it comes to conversing with clients.

The treatment I got in the BF Resort branch was light-years away from the treatment I received at BDO's Pasong Tamo branch. Was it because the financial bracket of the people investing in Las Piñas was lower to that of the businessmen who open accounts in Makati? Or does it come down to management - the manger of Pasong Tamo being a lot more hands on with her staff compared to the manager at BF Resort whose only concern was what the person on the other end of the line had to eat? Or maybe it's just comes down to discrimination: You just opened a savings account so I couldn't be bothered with you.

Why does customer service mean so damn much to me, you ask? It's simple. I believe that finding a banker - your banker - is a lot like finding your accountant, dentist, or Realtor. It's a long-term relationship built on open communication and trust - you tell them what your needs are and trust their recommendations on what to account to open, what your options would be a few years from now, and how to go about whatever transition you may experience in the future (marriage, a baby, school, etc.). This sense of open communication and trust doesn't come easy with a bank teller that treats you like shit and makes you feel like you're an inconvenience the whole time you're there.

As much as I'd love to go back to the good folks at Pasong Tamo, the place is simply too out of the way for me to visit now. So I'll try my luck at BDO's BGC branch and see how comfortable I am there. When mucking around Manila, be careful when choosing your bank and your banker. The good ones make you feel privileged to be doing business with them, while the bad ones just makes you want to close your account and start stashing your savings under your bed for the rest of your life.

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