Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Texture of Injustice

On the 23rd of March, I made & then reversed an electronic transaction of a fairly large but not catastrophically huge amount of money. Even as the store owner handed me the 'Transaction Void' slip I had a niggling feeling that I was entering into the black hole of Indian banking.
I was right.
On the 29th of March, I called the bank's customer service. The first lady I spoke to blew me off by saying that the servers were down, which is code for : Fuck off please, can't you tell I'm playing Freecell? I called back again and got a heavy breathing gentleman who assured me that the servers were in fact, working.
I then lodged a complaint at the bank's (one vowel, one consonant in alternating series) customer service and got a request number (to numerically assure me that someone somewhere gave a damn). The Heavy Breather told me to xerox the void slip, write a letter and fax both these pieces to the bank's Mumbai branch. I expressed my displeasure at having to fork out the money to fax these documents and then hung up.
The next morning I discovered that the fax number HB had given me didn't work.
I stomped in the heat to my nearest branch. All I wanted was a fax number. It took me an hour and twenty five minutes to get this number in spite of the bank exec calling HB back and threatening him with dire consequences (he just transfered her to another department, which transfered her to another department which informed her that my case would be resolved on the 19th of July. Finally after some more passive aggressive banter, she had a number in hand).
Perhaps it was the kindness of her heart or my dark, murderous glance, but she agreed to fax the letter from the branch itself. She failed.
Near tears, she asked me to return to my fax guy and keep trying from there.

I could've socked her in the face but it wasn't her fault. I could've tracked down HB and grievously harmed his ballsac but he's just a call centre guy. Short of planting RDX at the bank's headquarters, I realised, there was not much I could do to get my money back except spend the day trying a bogus fax number from Chopra uncle's shop. The helplessness was excruciating. The apathy of a corporation too huge to touch was killing.

And this is just a very privileged girl taking on a bank that will eventually capitulate to her demands and return her money, an amount that can't really break her either way. This is, in all probability, the maximum extent of 'injustice' I'll ever face.

But the frustration I felt will remain for a while. And the next time there's a headline of children dying of starvation in Bolangir or a story about the survivors of Best Bakery, I'll remember this moment, magnify it by a million and then, just barely understand the real texture of injustice.


  1. Cheer up! I'm waiting for four years for my ICICI account to be transfered from Bangalore to Kolkata.

  2. To be honest, the post wasn't about my sense of injustice vis-a vis the bank.
    It was more about larger injustices that people face on a daily basis - ones that are so huge that my bank saga is nothing in comparison.
    Best of luck with your account transfer tho'! :)

  3. I too have faced similar problem with the "same" bank. They don't do any work till you shout all your lungs out!
    Indians have to get used to things like this, you need to learn the art of getting things done from incompetent people!