Indian call centre worker ‘froze customer’s account and changed his identity as revenge for having service criticised
By Luke Salkeld
Telephoning a bank’s call centre can be a frustrating experience.
And after he was finally put through to a ‘rude’ and ‘arrogant’ operator, George Bates felt justified in making a complaint.
Taking part in a follow-up survey to monitor customer satisfaction, the 23-year-old made clear his opinion of the call centre employee – who took revenge by putting all of Mr Bates’ finances on hold.
When he contacted the bank later that day, the self-employed carpenter was unable to access his account for ‘security reasons’.
He then visited his local branch and was horrified to discover his identity had been swapped to that of a Ugandan divorcee ten years his senior.
Mr Bates also discovered his overdraft facility had been withdrawn and several direct debits had been cancelled – landing him with £60 in charges.
He said: ‘This arrogant phone operator has obviously seen that I’ve given him bad feedback and decided to change all my details in revenge.
‘I rang up and I couldn’t understand a word of what he was saying. He was rude, arrogant and very pushy.
‘He was really unhelpful but he had the cheek to pester me to give him a good rating after the call.’
He continued: ‘When I heard my details had been changed to Ugandan I was terrified that my account had been emptied by somebody else and I’d never have my money back.
‘His spiteful actions have caused me a massive inconvenience and I’ve changed banks now because I’m scared he could still access my account.’
Mr Bates’ rang Abbey’s telephone banking service last month to extend his overdraft by £200 to cover direct debits which were due to come out of his account.
The operator, who spoke with an Asian accent, extended it from £1,500 to £1,700, but refused to extend it a second time in one day.
Mr Bates claims the worker then pestered him to give maximum scores of seven in an eight-question automated survey which customers take following a call.
The frustrated bachelor answered the questions with ones and twos, the lowest scores, because the phone operator had been so unhelpful.
But when he rang up the following day to try and extend his overdraft again, he failed to access his account using his correct name, date of birth and account number.
He was advised to visit his local branch but was unable to get there during the working week – and then had his cash card swallowed by a hole-in-the-wall dispenser.
The next week he visited the Abbey branch in Broadmead, Bristol, where a manager informed him he was listed on his account as a 33-year-old Ugandan divorcee born in July 1975.
The bank manager corrected his details but over the next few days George discovered his overdraft and six direct debits totalling £750 had been cancelled – incurring 4 different charges totalling £60.
Mr Bates, who is single and lives in Bristol, then went back to his bank to demand his overdraft and direct debits were reinstated.
All the changes have now been rectified, and Mr Bates offered £200 in compensation.
But he is still not a satisfied customer.
He said: ‘I am not happy with the service and the fact that the call centre Abbey uses is in India. They offered me £200 compensation but that’s not a good apology to me.
‘I’ve been forced to take lots of time off work which has costs me several day’s wages and the stress of it all is really frustrating.
‘Even though they did eventually sort everything out I’m still unhappy and I’ll be switching back to a bank with call centres in Britain.’
Abbey, who have five call centres in Britain and two in India – one in Bangalore and one in Pune, say they have ‘fully investigated’ the incident but refused to confirm whether any disciplinary action has been taken against the worker involved.
A spokesperson said: ‘An error occurred on Mr Bates’ overdraft. We have since returned his account to the correct position and refunded any charges relating to this error.
‘In relation to Mr Bates’ other claims, we can confirm that we have fully investigated these complaints but we do not comment on individual employees.’
In 2004, the bank came under fire after announcing plans to close three UK offices, which affected 1,300 jobs and saw the majority of call centre work transferred to India.
The following year following a barrage of complaints from customers, the former building society pledged to bring the jobs back to Britain.
Originally published on MailOnline