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BLOG: “Damn Bloody Stewpig!”

Zafar Anjum | Feb. 20, 2012
Singapore's DBS Bank does not seem to have learnt from its mistakes.

This morning, I received an sms from DBS Bank.

It read like this: "We are mailing a new ATM card to you. For added security, your card ending XXXX is deactivated. For urgent replacement, please visit any DBS/POSB branch."

While I knew that ever since the Bugis ATM-skimming episode, DBS Bank has become extra cautious about security (so much so that every time I use my DBS debit card for a transaction, I receive an sms confirmation, often even before the cashier could hand me the purchase receipt), but deactivating my ATM card without any prior warning was a bit over the top.

I thought it was stupid.

I naturally felt upset on this sudden decision on my bank's part. I called my wife and she said she had received the same message (she is also a DBS Bank customer).

What if we needed to withdraw cash urgently? Or needed to use the card for some urgent transaction? Did the bank not think through about such emergencies that customers could face before sending out the curt message of deactivating their cards? That too, without the fig leaf of 'sorry for the inconvenience caused'.

Turns out I'm not alone who is upset. Many DBS customers have received the same message in an abrupt fashion. While some find the bank's action unbelievable, many are obviously riled up.

One of my friends had this to say on Facebook when she received the sms from DBS Bank today: "DBS renewing my ATM Card. No advance notice. Only an SMS to tell me old card is no longer usable and ATM ate my card for lunch. New card arrival? 3-5 workings (sick!) days. For urgent cash withdrawal, bring IC, take umbrella, go to nearest DBS bank, queue up and withdraw cash. Well organised! Do I sound like a housewife with lotsa time to do that?"

To this comment, another friend reacted like this: "Damn Bloody Stewpig!"

"Banks' customer service is really crappy" shouted yet another Facebooker.

You get the drift? If I trawl for some more comments on social networks, I am sure I'll find plenty more.

Hasn't DBS Bank learnt from its past public relations mistakes? First there was the big ATM outage, then the case of many customers losing their monies due to ATM-skimming at Bugis, and now this example of bad customer service.

How did Singapore's leading bank become so juvenile in its customer service? It is beyond any logic, and seems part of the new Singapore zeitgeist of erring without watching one's back.

Zafar Anjum is the online editor of MIS Asia, CIO Asia, Computerworld Singapore and Computerworld Malaysia.



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