Banks in Cambodia

Oh, bother.

It is incredibly difficult to find a bank in Cambodia with good service. Our first bank provided terrible customer service, refused to look into missing funds, and even had a security breach on my account. At least they sent head office to train their staff after my complaint, but nothing improved.

Then our next bank wouldn’t accept local cheques and gave conflicting information to my team.

And now, there is our third bank. You would think it is third time lucky, but unfortunately, it hasn’t been.

Today I went into Siem Reap branch to get salaries for my staff. I had to wait fifteen minutes to be served. When I was finally called, I handed over my NGO bank book and signed in front of her, and told her she would have to phone our Director, who had also signed the form, to confirm the withdrawal, as that is the procedure we agreed on with the bank. She told me to sit down so I did so and waited. After a few minutes she called me over and showed me a phone number she had written on a piece of paper. She had one digit wrong, so had unsuccessfully attempted to call our Director. I had to give her the correct phone number (which, if you think about, could be a breach of security) and waited again while she phoned him. After a few minutes she called me over and gave me $1,600 in $100 notes. I had written  on the back of both copies of the withdrawal form the cash breakdown which she hadn’t checked, so she had to get the cash again. I asked her to hurry as I had to be back at my NGO at 11am to pay salaries to my part-time staff before they left.

The teller took her time, more than I believe was necessary to obtain the correct funds. Then when she gave me the money I was checking each note and saw that a couple of the $50 notes had tears in them, so asked her to exchange them. She acted like it was a big inconvenience for her to do so, and said she didn’t have any new notes, they were all old (old isn’t an issue, I just don’t want torn notes as most shops reject them). I told her I needed the $50 notes and to ask another staff member for them, which with a huff, she did. I continued to look through the notes while she called another customer to come to her desk, even though I wasn’t finished counting. I found a torn $5 note and asked her to replace it, and both sighed/laughed at me when she did so. She then came over and snapped at me, saying “check all before I do”. I told her I had finished checking all and to replace my $5 note. She sighed again, exasperated, and I had had enough. I asked to speak to her manager to complain about her, and she looked at me and didn’t respond. I asked again. She said that her manager was not at the office, that he had gone outside. I told her I didn’t believe her and I wanted to speak to her manager. She kept avoiding the question (instead laughing at me) until finally another lady came over to ask me what was wrong. I told her I wanted to make a complaint about the teller and that I wanted to speak to the manager. The lady said the manager was outside and I couldn’t. As I was speaking to her, the teller laughed at me again. I told her it was very rude and disrespectful for the teller to be laughing at me, and I asked to speak to the manager again, or a supervisor. The lady said she was the teller’s supervisor, however I was not happy with how she was dealing with my complaint. The teller continued to laugh at me and I told her supervisor to look at the teller to prove she was laughing at me, but she refused. She told me just to write a complaint on the feedback form and put it in the box, but believe me, I have seen those feedback forms and there is no room to adequately write my issues, nor am I confident they would reach the intended recipients.
I persisted in asking to speak to the manager (as I knew they were lying about him being out of office) until finally the supervisor relented and asked someone to go and get him. It was at that point a relationship manager came over and asked me what the problem was. I told him I wanted to make a complaint to the manager about the teller and now, the supervisor. At that point I did not know teller’s name, so asked the relationship manager for her name. He wouldn’t give it to me, instead trying to usher me into a room so the other customers wouldn’t hear me complaining. I had to ask at least five times before he told me her name (in fact, he didn’t even know her name and had to ask for it) and then I went into a room with him while the teller said insincerely to me, “sorry”.
The relationship manager took me into a room and asked me to tell him my complaint. I told him I didn’t want to speak to him, I wanted to speak to a manager. He told me the manager was not there. I responded, “That is not true, the other people told me the manager will come and speak to me”, so he then went and got the manager. By this time it was 11am and I was already late to pay the salaries to my staff.
The branch manager came in. He listened to me speaking and explaining the issues which I had faced with his three staff, and I kept asking if he understood, which he assured me he did. Whilst I was speaking to him, another staff member (I believe it was the relationship manager by the black shirt I saw) came up to the frosted glass door and HELD HIS EAR TO IT, listening to our conversation. I pointed that out to the manager, that it was very unprofessional, and after a few seconds the manager went to the door but the relationship manager had walked away. I then asked the manager what he would do about the problems I faced (the fact that the staff were unprofessional, disrespectful and rude), and he asked me, “What do you want me to do?”. I told him he was the manager and he had to give me the solution. He said he knew what he would do, but what did he want me to do. I told him I wanted the teller to get a written warning and for the staff to get training on good customer service. He told me he couldn’t tell me about a written warning, it is an internal procedure. I asked for HR’s email so I could complain to them about the teller, but then he became agitated with me. He spoke to me like I was gum on the bottom of his shoe, that he didn’t have time to listen to me nor did he care that I am a customer and had a complaint to make. He told me he wouldn’t tell me the action he took, and I asked how could I trust that he would take action on this? He then proceeded to LAUGH AT ME. That’s right, the manager of the branch laughed at his customer who was complaining to him.
I had enough, knowing I could not reason with this man or get any action taken on my complaint, and walked out, telling him I pitied his staff on the way out. After all, how can they improve when their leader won’t even take feedback on board.
Today I was absolutely mortified with my experience at this bank. I have no words to adequately express how I felt after being treated that way from not one, but FOUR staff members, including the branch manager. I have emailed head office and hope to get a response (as when we were initially setting up our bank account and I complained about a lack of communication, I received a formal apology), however I will definitely be closing down my personal account with them.
Banks in Cambodia need to improve their customer service, and customers need to understand that they DO have a say in how they are treated. In the past my team have been too scared to complain about service we have received at other banks, however I have explained to them that the reason people at banks have jobs is because of the customers who invest and borrow money, so we deserve good service.
I really hope the next bank I sign up with, on recommendation of a friend, understands this point.