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.
ATM CARD.NO PIN
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.