Housing loan issues, service brands: hassle hai na

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I recently booked a flat in Bangalore, thanks to a scheme that called for a low down payment. EMIs were to kick in from next year – from the time of possession. I got a rude shock when I received an SMS from ICICI Housing Finance (who financed this scheme) asking me to ensure that sufficient funds are in place for the EMIs. I also received a letter from them which gave a different amount from the SMS, as a pre-EMI deposit. To top it, that letter was undated – talk about attention to detail from a bank! I panicked since I did not plan for these expenses now.

When I complained to the local manager he assured me that this was a mistake and they have received one other such complaint. A day later, I receive an SMS from the bank blandly stating: ‘Due to technical issues you may have received an incorrect message from us. Please ignore the same. We regret the inconvenience caused’. This message could be referring to anything under the sun. Not the use of ‘may have received’ and  total lack of specifics. I then wrote a long mail to the local manager complaining about this and asking for a specific payment schedule. I only got an assurance that I owe nothing as of now but no word on the payment schedule.

I have now received another letter from the bank asking for a pre-EMI. Sigh. Why is dealing with a financial service brand such a hassle? In my case, it is apparent that the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing. Worse still, I can’t complain to anyone readily – when you call the number specified, wading through ‘If you are a personal loan customer, Press 2′, if you are a housing loan customer Press 3’, is such an irritant. I guess I am not ‘a-loan’ in facing such problems. Floating EMIs and interest rates present another set of headaches to some of my friends who are already into EMIs.

Another small grouse. This is not my first ICICI product. I am their customer for Insurance and Mutual Fund. They have all my personal information. Why then do I have to fill in my details all over again every time I buy a new product from them?

I don’t know if my experience is an exception or the norm. But it surely highlights the downside of poor execution of a product and how it can impact the overall brand image. Until next time, ‘loan-some’ tears…

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