UOB Bank Singapore

Everyday Life, Frustrations No Comments

I have banked with UOB in Singapore for many years, and have generally been happy with the service.  One exception was last year, when I sold some investments in the US and transferred them to my Singapore UOB account, and then went to invest those funds with UOB, I was told that I was not entitled to certain offers because it was not “new funds” being transferred to my account.

However, I am being really frustrated by UOBs policies now.  I moved to Papua New Guinea six months ago, and wanted to keep part of my portfolio based out of Singapore (in addition to other investments I keep in the US and Australia).  I had a term investment (six figure sum) with UOB that matured today, and wanted it credited to my cheque account so that I can make some capital purchases in Papua New Guinea, and reinvest a significant amount in some other investment with UOB.

So I contacted UOB a week ago, to make arrangements.  I had to contact my personal banker several times to get any update, and I was finally told today that I have to wait for them to send me original forms, which I then fill in and sign, and return to Singapore.  It has taken almost 5 working days to get this final response from UOB.  What makes it worse, is that they are not willing to forward the documents electronically.  They will not send or receive electronic forms or documents.

I did ask my personal banker on Wednesday last week (almost a week ago) and provided him with my temporary address in PNG (as I was travelling at the time), so that he could send me the forms by courier if he thought that there was no other option, but that didn’t transpire.  Now, one week later, he is asking for my address to send original documents.

I cannot work with a bank that is so difficult to deal with remotely.  As you can see on my web site, I travel extensively, and often in Third World Countries.

Singapore is a wonderful country, and I hope to work there again in the future.  It has a great IT infrastructure and encourages the use of technology at all levels.  Unfortunately UOB is not keeping pace with the country in which it operates.

I have looked at alternatives in Singapore, and have shortlisted two banks that may meet my requirements.  I will post my findings in a few days.  If all goes well, I will transfer my entire Singapore Portfolio to another bank.

UOB has just added itself to my reperoire of “how not to do customer service.”  It is a pertinent illustration of some key failings by major companies that I can use in my classes, workshops and presentations.


Everyday Life, Frustrations No Comments

I recently got a Telstra PrePaid SIM for my mobile phone for both Rebecca and me, so that we can make calls at a reasonable rate while in Australia.  But unfortunately I am once again experiencing the less than stellar service I was expecting from a developed country.

Two things stand out:

  1. A few days ago I received a text message from TestraTHX offering me a "10% credit back on recharges over [the] next 3 mths."  The justification? "It’s our way of saying Thx :-)."  Today I received another identical message, telling me that this was my last chance!  So I replied at instructed, and promptly got a message back stating that "Unfortunately you are not eligible for this offer."  Surely Telstra can send this message to only eligible customers … and there were no conditions stated in the original offer!
  2. After three days of working properly, I was suddenly unable to make outgoing calls.  Every time I made an outgoing call, it would get redirected to a Telstra automated message.  I also couldn’t send text messages.  What makes this interesting, is that this is a problem with Telstra, but they charged me $0.25 for each of three calls it took me to get this fixed.  Their support team said that there was no problem at their end, but 15 minutes after talking to them, my phone suddenly started working!  Coincidence?  Probably not.

There are several other things that have annoyed me (like deceptive advertising), but I guess that those things happen with companies anywhere.

Westpac Bank

Everyday Life, Frustrations No Comments

Rebecca and I had an interesting experience today.  We went to Westpac to open a bank account in Australia.  We were asked for identification, and we produced our passports.  However, Rebecca, being an Australian, had to provide additional forms of identification, whereas they accepted my German passport as sufficient identification.  GREAT!!  So an Australian bank doesn’t accept an Australian passport as sole document of identification, but a German passport is acceptable.

Once we finished signing the documents to open the account, I asked for photocopies of the contracts that we signed.  I was asked “Why would you want them?”  Interesting question – I signed a legal contract, and one party is questioning why I want to get a copy for my records.  However, the lady obliged, but came back with photocopies that were crossed out.  She said that this was a requirement from their legal department.  I told her that this was crazy, as I am surely entitled to have a valid copy of any contract I signed.  I asked her if she would enter into a contract without getting a valid copy.  She avoided the question twice and then went away to get us new photocopies.

I feel like I am in reverse culture shock.  After five years of working in and travelling across Asia (much of it in undeveloped or barely developed countries), I expected life in Australia to be different.