I first learned about how the Bank worked from a good friend, Chia.
“They were calling me repeatedly for credit card payment. I told them, can’t you wait until the next billing cycle for the RM2.00 I left out?! Hasn’t the time and money you spent calling me already exceeded RM2.00?!”
Hence, I have no doubt it is a very, very profitable Bank. I heard from unofficial sources the general directive of the Group was, for every cent of resources you’ve utilized, you had to earn back threefold. But I didn’t learn my lesson then. I eventually opened an account there, and I deserved all the suffering.
First it was the turtle-speed online banking server. The home page couldn’t even load, so forget about signing in. I complained multiple times only to receive canned responses: “… Valued customer… Thank you for your… looking into it…. Thank you” with a bunch of grammatical mistakes. I eventually closed all my accounts. Then I heard they finally upgraded their online banking service, but I didn’t care any more.
As a side note, Citibank was guilty of the same sin. They made customers jump through hoops to log onto their online banking service. You had to click some randomly ordered buttons, up to 9 of them, in order to login. All complains were answered by robots. I closed all my Citibank accounts too.
They just don’t listen to customers.
All nightmare with the Bank should have ended there and then. But a very good friend of mine worked for the Bank in the loan department. To show support, I used the Bank for car and property loans. For that, I was required to open a current account.
First thing I found out was, the Bank does not mail the checkbooks to customers. I was asked to brave the KL traffic jam and collect it there. It was standard policy. Only because I requested special assistance from the branch manager, he was kind enough to courier it to me.
After the checkbook has been used up, I sent in the request slip by mail. The branch said they didn’t receive it, and asked us to apply again. But we were billed twice for the checkbook! Later we found out apparently the first slip was received by somebody-god-knows-who and processed. The first checkbook was delivered to the OTHER branch, which again refused to mail it to us.
For the property loan, the money was released late. The developer billed me for the interest. The Bank admitted their fault and settled it, but the mistake already wasted my time.
For the amount of business I was having with the Bank, they got my address wrong. I don’t know how, because it was correct in the very beginning of the dealings. I updated them in writing but they did not correct it at all. For many months, I did not receive my statements. When I asked for a re-print of those statements, they wanted to bill me for it! I yelled. They gave in and faxed them over, and finally updated my address.
Housing loan rates fell recently. So the kind branch manager asked me to apply for rate revision. I did. The Bank offered me a higher-than-market rate, and wanted to lock me in for another 5 years. I politely declined.
I couldn’t close the housing loan account because of the initial 5-year lock-in period. But I sure can close my car loan account. I asked the Bank about the outstanding amount, and they wouldn’t tell! They requested me to write in to enquire officially. No other bank gives me as much inconvenience. The stalling costed me another installment of interest.
For the amount of distress it has given me, I almost thought HL Bank hates me. But the truth is, it never cares. I am but a tiny, tiny ant to them. For the rich, HL probably stands for Holy Land — and HeLL for the common people. It’s probably part of their corporate culture. Take it as a lesson on how much influence corporate culture can have on every aspect of an organization.
What’s your HeLL story?