me, myself & andrei

23 May 2008
ING Bank

It is pouring in Bucharest, and I decided not to take the train back home, so I’m catching up with some blogging. Actually it is pouring so heavily that I decided to disconnect my laptop from AC, while at the same time my Internet went down by itself.

But, straight to the subject! I’m quite a proud client of ING Bank in Romania. The reasons for that should maybe go in another post. Now the bad things ,)

So far, the office I had nearby by home in Galați (my hometown) had quite a nice personnel. I had some issues once with receiving some money, but it was not their fault and they were really helpful. I even remember the name of Diana Moman, who helped me a great deal to understand how banks handled my Erasmus scholarship, and how they got their hands on 120 EUR without moving a finger.

I’m now preparing to handle my admission to KTH for masters - Engineering and Management of Information Systems. Among them - getting an online banking account to handle my payments better while abroad, and paying a deposit for accommodation in their dorms.

First things first, I got some information from the Internet and also by going to the office nearby. At the office, it was quite ok, though I didn’t know the new personnel. All in all, I decided to wait and see whether I go on with getting the online banking service. I asked about fees, and whether I will be able to handle both my accounts, in RON and EUR.

About a week after, I got into the situation of actually paying the deposit. How shall I do it? I asked myself.. Well, it should be pure logic.. I will put some money on my EUR account, and then I will do the transfer online, after I request the online banking service (called Home Bank).

I went to the office, though I think I could have requested the service online as well, but.. since I decided to activate my online banking service as well, why not just get the DigiPass as quickly as possible? I went in my simple clothes of a young boy with absolutely nothing unique in particular, shaved.. which often makes me look way too young. But before that day, it really didn’t make any difference at the ING office, and I loved them for that. I was always a respected customer that needed information or requested a service.

But surprise! Today.. the lady.. no need to mention her name.. one of the ladies.. looking so down with her spirits and almost not wanting to take care of my banking issues.. took care of my banking issues. I told her straight from the beginning I want to file for a HomeBank service. The process went something like this:

  • SHE: Have a seat!..
  • ANDREI: Hello! I would like to activate my HomeBank service.
  • So you know about the service, right?
  • Yes
  • You know you need to pay 12 RON yearly, and 3 RON monthly..
  • (smile)
    Yes, I do. I’ve been here last week to get all the details..
  • (no kind reaction whatsoever)
    I need you to slip your card through the POS machine and to input your PIN code..
  • (I do it)
  • OK, now I need you to give me an E-mail address,
  • so that I can add the new service..
  • (%#&%#?? - me troubled - don’t you have that already with my client profile?)
    Well, OK.. andrei dot neculau at gmail dot com ..
  • (she repeats it)
  • Yes, it seems ok..
  • SHE: Occupation.. Student. Is that correct?
  • ANDREI: Yes.
  • Level of monthly income?
  • Well.. none. Since I’m officially just a student..
  • (with a Romanian phrasing that denotes someone looking down on somebody else, she continues)
    OK.. so your parents support you financially. Just give me a ball-point figure..
  • Well, put 100 EUR..
  • (she prints the request and asks me to sign it - not to check it, but to sign it)
  • (my experience says don’t sign before you read.. so I read.. and.. it turned out I have a new E-mail address… adrei dot neculau..)
    Hmm.. it seems there’s a mistake..
  • I see.. I’m sorry.. but you know.. it’s not that important.. just sign it
  • (!#%&##%&? - I don’t say a thing… I just had a troubled and “How messed up are you? for real?” face)
  • SHE: OK.. I’ll change it once again.. but you still need to sign this one..
  • ANDREI: (!?#%?#%#%? - if it’s not correct, then how the hell am I supposed to validate it through my signature? - I sign it..)
  • (she goes and reaches for the folder with all the instructions, and the DigiPass - she tries to explain to me a couple of things, while I nodded in approval that I already know that… - she kept calling the DigiPass “the device”, after a couple of seconds of hesitation each time she needed to refer to it, while I helped)
  • (I nod.. I nod.. I tell her “..DigiPass…” to help her remember, but with no use.. it was still “..the device..”)
  • (she hands me the folder… says nothing)
  • ANDREI: Is this all?
  • SHE: Yes, of course.
  • ANDREI: (!%#?!?) OK, thank you. Have a nice day!
  • SHE: Good bye!

All this in a continuous switch between the polite Romanian version of you and the informal you.. all of that giving a sense of.. “I was requested to talk to you with the polite version, but I don’t feel like doing it”.

I think you can draw the conclusions on your own. The gap between Daniela Moman and her boss (I forgot her name, but I can look in my documents) and this event is so big. ING Bank dropped in my perspective from a good and Western bank to .. a simple Romanian bank.. in just a blink of an eye. Or to formulate it financially.. the ING stocks on Andrei’s stock-exchange went in a miserable and steep fall.

Regarding the deposit.. Well.. it seems that you cannot do it online. Nor at their office, but only at their branches (the real banks so to speak, and not offices focused on service management). And only by filling out a form. And they take only 0.2% for each foreign-currency transfer.. only that the minimum is 85 RON.. about 25 EUR. Super-duper!

Now, I would understand that, if I wasn’t using the European Union currency.. but since we are in the EU, why can’t I handle transfers in EUR from my online banking? And why do I need to pay that commission? I mean.. you can figure it out on your own.. in order to reach the parity between 0.2% and 85 RON.. you would have to make a transfer of about 42500 RON (about 12000+ €).

How many customers do transfers beyond that sum? Why not just put “85 RON for payments bellow 12000 EUR, and 0.2% beyond”? Are the consumers that stupid? And even if we are. Is the world going to be a better place if we treat each other as if we are nothing but nut-heads? Quantity wise, I don’t think the world became less wise than it was just decades ago.. Percentage wise, with a restriction to those who handle a good amount of money nowadays, maybe. But quantity wise, there are more people today that can assess that they are treated unfairly than there were in the past.

Mark my words - Dreamhost (my webhost) is not a super-duper company. They are not perfect. But they are honest and transparent. Any other type of service that is honest and transparent will succeed indefinitely. Not on the long-term.. but indefinitely. The rest.. thanks for ruining plain old common-sense rules just for your profit and customer manipulation.

But back to ING. Now tell me.. why can’t I do transfers from my EUR account, since you’re advertising I can do anything I want with my money, wherever I want? and why do you charge 85 RON (others do it as well, I admit) while the Romanian Commercial bank charges just 5 EUR? And why do you advertise yourself as an international or a bank from the Netherlands, while I have no support from ING banks outside Romania? Where’s the spirit, ING? Where’s the lion?

UPDATE 2008-05-24
They managed to do another crazy thing - block all my accounts. Why?.. Well, two weeks ago I “re-furbished” my ID card and updated my data. Due to all the foreign papers and signatures, I signed them all with “Andrei Neculau” (the way it’s supposed to be) and not with “Neculau Andrei” (how we stupid Romanians, among other nations, do it). The later was also the one I used to open the bank account. Last week, it was the HomeBank thing, and I signed once again with “Andrei Neculau”.
Apparently the data-update didn’t yet reach the database, and thus my signature hasn’t been updated (or I might have made the mistake of signing once again with “Neculau Andrei”), and when they checked the request for online banking, they frozen all my accounts.
Now waiting to unfreeze my accounts, and to get an answer to what happened. Bummer!
PS: This time, customer service was ok - not the same people though.