Pay to the order of

In the banking system, excellence in customer service should be the most important tool for sustained business growth. Although customers are a vital part of the business life in any organization, customer service should be emphasized more with banks as they are service organizations. Over the past few years, customers have grown frustrated with the banking system. One major disturbance is how non-clients of a particular bank are treated when cashing a check. Some rules are put in place that you must be a client of a bank in order to cash a check, otherwise a $10 charge will be incurred. However, the person issuing the check is the client and they are ordering the bank to pay on their behalf, hence the wording on every check “pay to the order of”. Why should it matter if the payee has an account with your company when the payer clearly does? The payer, who is the client, pays up to $45 for a check book with the bank and every time a check is cashed they are charged $3. How dare they impose more fees on our Bahamian people who are already suffering! They are nickel and diming us to death!

A lot of the foreign banks in the Caribbean have been given many awards, yet they treat us worse than they treat their customers in their country. Needless to say, they make most of their money in the Caribbean, as we are their goldmine. I have also noticed that some of the ATM machines only disburse large bills ($50 and $100). God help you if you have a lower balance on your account and in desperate need for the funds. I do believe the Central Bank or the government should step in on how these foreign banks treat their customers. The extra fees and lack of customer service is deemed ridiculous, out of order and highly unfair.

Another issue I have is that most banks are now going cashless, downsizing and reducing their staff and branches, thus forcing customers to use the ATM machines. Service has now become a thing of the past. Not all customers are tech savvy and their desire to conduct business with an actual teller strongly exists. One bank in particular just announced that they are closing more branches, leaving only a handful of branches left. Those who are being transferred to other branches, especially the ones downtown, will have absolutely no parking. Talk about a hassle and lack of customer empathy.

My final concern is that senior citizens, 60 and over, cannot get a loan. Lenders should not use age as a factor for denying borrowers a loan, especially if they are requesting life insurance or collateral to back up the loan. Discrimination based on everything from a borrower’s age, race, color or nationality should not exist. A customer is a customer, but then again let’s be honest, these banks don’t give a doo-doo about their customers. Either we like it or lump it!

• William Wong is a two-term president of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation, two-term president of the Bahamas Real Estate Association and a partner at Darville-Wong Realty. He is also a former president of the Rotary Club of South East Nassau and is currently a member of the Rotary Club of West Nassau. E-mail: williamuwong@gmail.com.

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