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K calls me from Bangalore. He is holding a cheque for Rs.10,000/- payable to me, which he received as refund of advance from where he had been staying till last month. The landlord made the cheque to Balachandran V ....... or bearer. The cheque is not crossed, which as per the Negotiable Instruments Act ( Bankers' Bible), means that the cheque can be encashed across the counter at the drawee Bank, which in this case was Corporation Bank, HSR Layout(?) Bangalore.
K says, 'Acha, the lady in the counter says that the cheque needs to be signed by you; otherwise she cannot pay'. I tell him to show the clerk that it is a bearer instrument. 10 minutes later K calls me again - 'She says, ' go to the Manager'.
I am reminded of my 32 plus years in a Bank. I take a deep breath. How many times have I heard this 'go to the Manager'!
15 minutes later K calls again. "Acha, the Manager is asking around." I fume. I tell him to give the phone to the Manager, tell him that your father is a Banker, let me teach that idiot some banking.
K is not one for confrontation. He says, I will convince him. 10 minutes later I text him, 'Kittiyo?' Did you get the money? K calls. 'Phew, yeah, finally I got it. This other lady asked me to show some ID and then passed the cheque.
'A bearer is always a bearer' - this is the rudimentary rule that we learn as we cross the threshold of the Bank. It is such a fundamental banking law, but K had to spend more than half an hour encashing a bearer cheque. I sigh, thinking of the umpteen number of things I'd have done in half an hour, I'd have passed 30 and more instruments in that time. ( I have timed it - the scrutiny, entry, scrunity, verification and handing over the cheque to the peon to the cash ( This is in case of amounts higher than 10,000/- it differs from situation to situation ) takes not more than 2 minutes. And when the counters are too busy I often enter and verify the cheques myself, a big NO NO as per banking practice.
I don't know. Are my fellow bankers, and these ones in Corporation Bank such morons? I shudder in relief, because on 28th March 2013, I will be coming, finally, out of Punjab National Bank.
And then I reflect on some colleagues of mine. A Senior Manager in Trivandrum, takes a straight commission of 5% for every agriculture and other loans he sanctions. He gives loans for non-existent tractors, non-existent people. During a recent account canvassing season, he opened the largest number of accounts in South India ( Savings accounts for a minimum Rs.5000/-) by forcing borrowers ( Business accounts) to open several accounts in the same name but with different customer ID and the bugger bagged an award too. In spite of his blatant corruption, in spite of RBI audit, he got away scot free, because he had the backing of the Circle Head.
Banks stink. Computerization has de-humanized whatever humans left in the institution. Private banks charge upto 200 rs if you enter the bank premises for any banking business; it is all there in the internet/mobile or whatever. Nationalized banks like mine struggle between the social and business targets they have to achieve, with number of employees diminishing day by day, young hands reluctant to join Banks and whatnot.
I am glad I am finally getting out!
*********** Balachandran , Trivandrum, 04.03.2013