My 4-month ordeal of replacing an ATM card at KCB

KCB has so humiliated and dehumanized me over the last four months that I no longer feel human enough, worthy a bank account.

See, when my ATM card expired on March 31st, I had no idea that for four months, I will be operating without an ATM card, which is a vital tool of convenience in the 21st century. As I write this, I have even forgotten what it feels like to withdraw cash from an ATM machine. I have been terribly inconvenienced; I’m hurting like no one truly cares about me.

Here is a quick breakdown of what happened. My second ATM card, I had used since 2009 expired on March 31st. It had survived a mugging, being picked, or getting broken and lived to its expiry date. Which is a feat in a country like Kenya.

Earlier in March, I had gone to KCB, Kencom and had been assured by the elderly woman in the front desk that it takes only 5 days to replace an ATM card. I went away in the hope that I will come back at around March 20th and replace the card in time for the March salary.

Foolish move. Naïve optimism.

I should have known that KCB has government blood in it and things don’t work as efficiently as promised. March 20th came and I went to a KCB branch along Mombasa Road and spoke to some lady, who in a casual way told me that if it was a replacement of an expired card, it happens naturally. I just needed to place a transfer request from my branch in Kisii and hurray, it will be transferred to that given branch. And they will call me. A promise they never kept.

Five days later I went there and they told me that the cards are being upgraded to the secure new-generation cards that were to be effective from April 30th. Or there about following the government directive. And KCB given their subscriber base, it was going to take longer than the usual. Perfectly understandable. So for the March salary I had to do with Mobile banking. It is freaking expensive.

See, for you to transact anything financial through the mobile phone, you first dial a certain code and your service provider dutifully takes Ksh 5. If you make a mistake, like say type a wrong PIN or end the transaction prematurely; you have to start again and your service provider will mercilessly rip you another Ksh 5. Then to transfer, say, Ksh 1,030, it costs Ksh 55. Remember that I have to withdraw from MPESA and will have to part with an extra Ksh 27. That is Ksh 87 in total. Withdrawing from the ATM machine costs about Ksh 33 which is Ksh 54 less.

So I went back after two weeks, mid-April to check. The cards were not yet ready and they were going to release them, maybe in two weeks time according to the gentleman who attended to me and dismissed me, like I was a bother. Again, the young man cheated me that they will communicate. I waited. And I waited. End of April came, no ATM. Again the whole of the April salary, I had to use mobile banking. It is ridiculous to queue in the bank to withdraw Ksh 600 over the counter. Besides, banks can’t spare you to withdraw free of charge, even if it is their fault.

In May I was almost giving up. But, I tried patience. Ideally, I had enough reason to give up on KCB, but I comforted myself that given the government has a stake in the bank, things sometimes work out rather slowly. Mid-May I went to the bank, the cards were not yet ready. I had had a particularly bad day and I vented on Facebook to which I had more than 30 comments advising me to quit KCB. Upon which many urged me to join Cooperative Bank, Stanchart and oddly enough my good friend was adamant that NIC was the most ideal for someone like me.

Sheila, a great banker friend in Kisumu was merciful enough to dial up her friend who works for KCB, Kisii branch. The friend did call me, but I happened to be down at Olorgessaile Museum where there was a network problem. He never bothered calling again.

Again, the dumb, foolish person I am, I decided to be loyal and give KCB a chance. That means my May salary withdrawn through mobile banking. Like seriously, if you are withdrawing higher amounts, the more you have to bleed. I started feeling that there was a conspiracy by the banks and my service provider to deliberately inconvenience voiceless lads and lasses like me so that we can use mobile banking from time to time.

Nothing explains the vulgar profits these banks and service providers make. Kenyans are evil, I know them. I told myself I will go there after three weeks and give it a final try.

I went to the same branch on Mombasa Road earlier on in June. Thankfully the ATM card was there.


So, they dispatched the ATM but forgot to send the PIN. I had half my salary in the account I was hoping I will use the card to withdraw. Now, the young man gave me the card and told me he will effect the transfer of the PIN from Kisii land as quickly as possible. He will call me. I was benumbed. The level of incompetence was beyond measure. I walked away. I convinced myself that I had come along way, so I can just wait. Nietzsche was wrong: What doesn’t kill you, makes you wait.

Mid-June, the young man did call me that my PIN had arrived.

Sent the PIN. Doesn’t Work.

So three days later I went to collect the PIN. I got there; the man pointed to the PIN envelope and told me that they had sent two PIN numbers. There were some numbers on the envelope, and I think I was under stress I thought he was referring to the two four-figure numbers on the envelope as opposed to the normally disguised PIN number on the envelope. He told me to try the ATM machine outside the bank and see if the PIN worked. I went there, punched the first number. It didn’t work. The second number got me to the point of withdrawing the money. Then it rejected the card. I tried again, the card got swallowed.

I went there and I explained my problem. He told me he meant the number inside the envelope. It was a miscommunication, but I take the blame that I acted rather stupidly.

He told me to go there the next day. By now, everyone knows me in the bank. I went there the following day they told they had not been able to obtain the swallowed card; I went there a few days later, when I was certain that it must have been withdrawn.

Card retrieved. Sent to Kariobangi.

I went there after a week and the lady I had often been checking with told me the card had been retrieved. But it had been sent to Kariobangi Branch. Now, in all my life I have never been to Kariobangi. Why would anyone send my card to Kariobangi. This is the same lady who helped me transfer my card from Kisii town. Now, why send the card to Kariobangi of all places? She told me to go there the following day. I went there a week later, now in July. Suffice to say that the June salary I have used the mobile banking. Being extorted for something that was not my doing.

Card finally arrives. The PIN does not work.

So I went to pick the card and tried to withdraw the money, hoping the ATM number that I was yet to verify will work, alas, it was wrong. The ATM machine told me that it was invalid. At which point, I was left with no option than decide to move to another bank. Now, I need that advice once again.

Sheila, kindly advice. This time round I mean business.


13 thoughts on “My 4-month ordeal of replacing an ATM card at KCB

  1. What a sad story. Honestly, I don’t want to say which bank is great in my view or my experience but honestly, your case was terrible. I am banking with Equity and am proud to say that I am served well all the time considering that I do online business. Equity Bank helps me withdraw my cash to my bank from online clients through Paypal. Pole sana for the hussle. I am certain that utapata the best banks that will not disappoint.

  2. I once had a similar problem in getting my Visa card from KCB. I waited for close to four months. As soon as I did get it, the PIN was wrong. You know once you put in your pin wrong and try to swipe the card at an outlet merchant like Nakumatt, it doesn’t run and the fucks then take your card and you start the process again and are charged for it!!!!!

    I should mention that at this time they held a substantial amount of my money on fixed deposit. When I told the stupid little customer care agent, I don’t particularly care for their customer care, their execution and general demeanor and that I would rather take my money out… the response was ” just write a letter to close the account. We don’t need your money!”

    I have never looked back!!!!

    NIC is great! Little known secret is the smaller the bank, the better they treat you. I love NIC and Imperial Bank for this. Plus…. no queues, a dedicated relationship manager, less bullshit and guess what, they need your money, so they treat you well. That’s what retail banking should be. And it doesn’t matter how little your money is. You worked hard for it, so you should get at least to access it in a fast, easy and convenient way.

    Ditch the fucks!

  3. what?! i feel you. i applied for an atm replacement card 26th may family bank, and da story’s like yours: that ‘upgrading’ rhetoric bombarding me every week. worse, i don’t do mobile banking, so imagine queing to withdraw shs 1000 at shs 100 bank charges. frankly, i want to bomb that branch. like you, i sense some fishy business in banks!

  4. Same case with kcb, they sent my card to kisumu!! After endless trips to the bank, they managed to finally send it to Nairobi… And guess what? No pin! I immediately withdrew all my money and went to co-op which was just next door, a week later I had a perfectly working ATM

  5. Pole sana. I use KCB myself and although I haven’t encountered such a nightmare, I have a sad story as well. They’ve got this one Nyeri branch ATM that seems not to work each time I wish to withdraw my cash. I can’t pin-point your next move but only pray things will change for the better for you, me and others suffering out there.

  6. Nyanchwani Loyalty is good……but it should never be blind. I never give banks a second chance at the age where we have more than enough financial institutions. My biggest question is…..will the bank compensate you for all the inconveniences?

  7. Good afternoon Mr. Nyachwani. We acknowledge receipt of your complaint. As per our correspondences via Twitter (@KCBGroup) and telephone, we are in the process of availing your PIN to Gateway branch as requested. Rest assured that we are doing everything possible to address the various issues raised. Feel free to contact us through our 24 hour Contact Centre numbers 0711087000 or 0732187000. You can alternatively get us on Facebook (KCB Bank Group) and through our interactive online webchat through our website Thank you once again for contacting us. We are here for you.

  8. Brother, u have really suffered in the name of being loyal to KCB.I really feel you.Don’t even wait for that ATM just look for another bank.

  9. Its so sad to know crap like that happen in our banks. I’m a member of kcb for a while now and I’ve had to use mobile banking for three months since I lost my card for a day and I think someone tried tried to withdraw from and by the tym i called in it was already blocked and trying to unblock it was another ordeal. Am still hopping that it works out at some point

  10. I suppose its the nature of our banks. I remember my holiday almost turned into a nightmare when a cash withdrawal from an Equity ATM triggered weeks of follow-up. Equity has been my good friend in Foreign currency account for many years. At least until one day they decided the few dollars i sent my mum were above prescribed central bank thresholds and I must explain. Explaining the source and destination and purpose I did. They seemed skeptical; until I asked the damn customer care lady at the creditors department to stop asking stupid question about source of funds because this was a bank to bank transfer, and if they were not satisfied, they should simply send the money back. The holiday ATM experience was the last nail on the coffin. Imagine all those labels on their ATMs that they accept mastercards: It is a big lie! My 3 tries all resulted to non-dispense even though my account was debited close to 60K. The guys promised that their bank will not claim the money from my bank abroad because they consolidate the accounts every evening and will see the error. The subsequent weeks saw me visit EQUITY more than 10 times, make calls to my mother bank in Europe about 3 times. Unlike calling the USA, calls to Europe cost close to sh. 50 per minute. Factor in the waiting times and the time the bank takes to confirm your security questions before they can help you with the problem at hand. So KSh. 3000 or so was gone into airtime just like that.
    All this time remember my account indicates that I have withdrawn almost my allowed maximum on an ATM while abroad. Am broke.. I need the money… The Equity guys insisted they cannot help me because they didn’t receive the cash! I emptied my foreign currency account altogether and left it to oblivion. Someday they will realize its too inactive and close it down…Hope so..
    I have never had a rough 3 weeks of holiday when I have to borrow from family and friends to stay afloat..
    Safe to say I learnt my lessons.. My advise to all thee travellers to our homeland; try barclays bank for your foreign Cards. Personal experience..

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