Since the publication of our article, titled ‘Pathetic Customer Care in Namibia’ on the 9-03-2021 in your esteemed paper, we have been inundated with a plethora of complaints from members of the public, who have been at the receiving end of poor customer service by leading private and government institutions.
However, a majority of complaints appear to be overwhelmingly from the financial sector, which tells you something about the flawed processes, systems and procedures in place for individuals seeking recourse at these organisations.
It appears First National Bank Namibia is always leading when it comes to ‘consumer abuse’. A classical case in point is the traumatic and horrible service experienced by Ricky Hameva at the hands of an official of the FNB SME Division. Despite the fact that there is an embellished statement on the FNB Business SME Division website asserting that they have “Knowledge of the SME market and the unique challenges faced by entrepreneurs in starting up a business and financing such venture”, what Hameva endured is a complete opposite of the latter posturing.
As a young and black property developer, Hameva has a track record of commercial engagements (both personal and business-wise) with FNB. Lately, he has been “ghosted” and treated as a beggar by a bank official who has, for the past month, stalled (deliberately it appears) his application for a loan facility.
Endless communications from Hameva to this bank official either fall on deaf ears, or are not attended to at all. With no positive light in sight, Hameva made a desperate attempt to see this official in person and this is what transpired.
Upon making a formal query as to when he will get feedback on his application, the official was said to be listening to Sam Smith’s heartbreaking track titled “I am not the only one” via his headsets.
How fitting a song, for this young property developer is probably “not the only one” suffering disservice at FNB. When Mr Hameva asked why he is listening to music while they are busy having a serious discussion, he emphatically and unapologetically replied that “he can multitask”.
This is the attitude and behaviour of a bank employee who is supposedly there to assist SMEs and bring in business for the bank. We are not privy to what let the bank official behave unsavourily towards Hameva, and for that reason, we saw it fit to leave the bank official anonymous. For the dictates of justice summon us to respect the doctrine of audi altarem partem. Of course, our side is that of customers, for we suffer similar experiences as a collective. If the status quo prevails, FNB will soon be known as the bank that asks, “How can we frustrate you?”, or “How can we disappoint you?” FNB needs to reign in their rogue employees who do not serve the bank’s interests and ultimately that of their clients. Incontrovertibly, it is apparent that customers continue to suffer abuse in silence at the hands of institutions that should be serving them.
That a bank can decide whether your business survives or goes under points to financial institutions enormous power. This power can invariably be suffocating to the common folk. The abuse has to stop! What banks do not understand is that deliberate sabotage from their employees has serious repercussions for grassroots people who rely on people like Hameva for a living.
Without the financial means to be economically productive, as a consequence of a drawn-out process from a bank official, the bank is indirectly responsible for social ills that beset communities, such as unemployed builders who might turn to crime to survive. We are not advocating for a blanket approach to approve loans, but professional service should be a common courtesy, even if it results in a decline of a loan facility. We trust that the management of FNB will implement a system that responds to the needs of their clients and have a ‘turnaround policy’ in place to prevent bank officials from unnecessarily delaying applications of an industry that has been ravaged by the Covid-19 pandemic.
*Ellison Tjirera is a sociologist from Okondjatu and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
*Rui Tyitende is a political scientist from Lüderitz and can be reached at email@example.com