Monday, 23 February 2009

JUST CHEQUE-ING

A few weeks ago a new branch of a nationalised bank opened practically next door. We thought it would be very convenient to open an account here, because of the proximity. I felt that my mother too could benefit by it. And so we went, and opened two accounts, one for my husband, and one for my mother, after depositing Rs. 1,000 each, giving copies of our ration card, passport, and whatever else was required, (no, they didn’t want our birth certificates or marriage certificates, nor our school leaving certificates) and our photographs (two copies each, please). The manager was very nice, friendly and helpful. He told us we would receive the cheque book and ATM card by post soon.

Once upon a time it was a small matter to open an account in a bank. In fact, I remember once that bank officers/ employees, visited us to inform us that their bank was opening a branch in the neighbourhood, and why did we not open an account with them.

Fully flattered, we smiled and nodded, and went to start the account. It was as simple as that. We just had to deposit a minimum amount (Rs. 5, I think it was then without cheque book facilities) and lo! you had an account with them. They smilingly handed over your passbook, and a cheque book with 20 leaves – for this, however the minimum amount required was Rs. 50 or so.

Alas, life did not remain so simple. As technology advanced, so did our con artists’ technique - like stealing cheques from the post. My husband has told me about numerous occasions when PF cheques were stolen and deposited in another bank under a fictitious account, using the name in the stolen cheque. So then was introduced the system of getting introduced to the bank by an existing account holder, if you wanted to start an account. And gradually the minimum account increased to Rs. 500, if you needed a cheque book.

At some point a system of paying for the cheque book was introduced, depending on the number of leaves you used up. (Maybe the bank wanted us to keep the money there, and not spend it?). So one used cheque leaves sparingly, and using the renewal leaf in the book, kept acquiring fresh cheque books.

It was a very simple system – you deposited money, you spent money, all was recorded in the pass book, and no confusion anywhere. Now I need an accountant, or at the least a more informed mind than mine to interpret my bank dealings from the pass book or the computer print outs.

It is more than a month now since we opened the accounts in the nearby branch, and we have not started operating the accounts. Why? Because we still haven’t received the cheque books.
Why? The manager is helpless. “It is the core banking system,” he says.

For an account opened in the neighbourhood, the cheque book has to be mailed from Mumbai ! And it is contracted to some people who will probably do it in their own good time. Till then we cannot withdraw money from the bank.

An incident my mother told me comes to mind. When she was very young, about five or six, one day the driver of their car was wearing a slightly torn shirt. My mother asked him, “Why are you wearing a torn shirt? Are you poor?” He said “No, I have lots of money in the bank. But a very rich man has put his money in the bank, on top of mine. So till he takes it out, I can’t withdraw my money.”

13 comments:

sundar said...

Very true...

Opening a bank account with just 5 rupee was a bliss.....

History....

Happy Kitten said...

You captured it so well....

Things were simple and straight.. but now everything has hidden costs...

Praveen G K said...

My dad told me that he has drawn as small an amount as ten rupees from the bank. I guess, now you have to multiple 100 times that money to keep as minimum balance :-)

Nice post, as always :-)

Kat said...

".....Now I need an accountant, ... to interpret my bank dealings from the pass book or the computer print outs."

Signs of lots of money going in and out. How nice :)))

Devika said...

Hi Raji,

I was laughing at the last joke...as a child I thought banks used to literally stack our money in huge racks :)))

i am smiling at Kat's comment...yeah lots happening on the monetary side :)

Nice reading your memories and thoughts, Raji

wishes,
devika

Ashvin said...

:-)

T and S said...

Interesting post Raji. You are right things have changed a lot and especially in the last 15 years or so.

I can't remember the last time I went to the branch where I opened my back account.

Just someone said...

Nice post... and a very accurate description too:)

Maddy said...

I liked that last comment from the driver - it is so meaningful & original..

Nevertheless, this core banking system will work only if the bits and pieces they are connected to are held tight. nationalized banks don't do that I guess. and the slack tells.

Ashutosh Didwania said...

Well...everything has its own boons and banes..so does technology...we've just gotto find way to utilize it in the best possible manner...With everything going online, I suppose gone are the days of long queues at the bank..I personally can't recollect the last time I'd been to a bank..

RAJI MUTHUKRISHNAN said...

:). Well there will be teething troubles with any new form of working. A week after writing the post we received our cheque books and cards.

But inefficiency makes me sad. Two chequebooks , and two cards, all to the same address were delivered in four separate envelopes by the speed post guys on four different days.

Kat - I WISH!

Maddy, Ashutosh - it will take some time for everyone to find their feet, I guess.

Viji said...

Oh boy guess what ; I went to my bank here in Mumbai today cos the cheque book they had couriered me had gone missing and was told I would have to wait until next week for it since all the cheque books were printed in and brought from Chennai - Jai Ho !!!

Swarna said...

So you caught another tiger by its tail? Hoorah! Hold on...
And beware of service providers selling you products you don't need, says Shyam in Have you been cross-sold?
Now we know the different kinds of bottomless pits that our money goes into... :(

Sociable