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Lookin Inside from Outside

The Way Banks Treat Their Customers Pt. 2

The article – the second in four series on the Way Banks Treat their Customers in Liberia, focuses on Ecobank and Its “system down syndrome.”  The first of the four series- published on Wednesday, August 27, 2014, delved into the poor attitudes exhibited by Ecobank-Liberia against its customers, including the internal thefts and delays in accessing deposits and salaries from the accounts of customers.

Let it be understood that these series are not out of any form of malice against Ecobank, but the desire to influence positive changes in the operation of the bank in Liberia. And as a result of these publications, one would expect that the management of Ecobank-Liberia may either respond through a news conference or a press statement to pretend as though these things are not actually happening, but they are all realities.

Initially, many had been attracted to the bank because of their firmed belief that it was indeed credible, and considering its international status, it was better to do business with it so that accessing their ‘cash’ outside of Monrovia or Liberia wouldn’t be challenging, but guaranteeing- and truly to that, it actually worked for some times.

At the moment, individual and institutional customers continue to experience difficulties in accessing whatever cash they have in their accounts because of the reasons earlier mentioned in part one of the series- the Way Banks Treat Their Customers. And these reasons range from internal theft to the delays in the payment of salaries of employees of institutions doing business with Ecobank.

In other West African countries, the situation may just be too far better that what’s unfolding in Liberia. Not that there are no internal problems, but the rate at which they occur is not as constant and high as we have here at Ecobank-Liberia. Probably, the mechanisms to ensure that these criminal activities don’t re-occur may either just be too weak not be available at all considering the wave of cash disappearances from the bank.

Not that these things don’t take place at other banking institutions in the country, but these institutions may have been able to institute measures to at least minimize these unwholesome behaviors that most often strangulate customers at Ecobank, especially they are in desperate need of their cash. As a result, the bank will have to dig into its reserves or may seek help from its headquarters (as I’m told) in Lome, Togo just the replenish its losses- and such situation is not a good public relations for the institution.

Most frustratingly, Ecobank will not present to its customers any convincing response when there are problems of with-drawing or payment of salaries, but say: “the system is down or system is not working” and it keeps working like that for every time there are some withdrawals or salary payment. The fact that the bank may be overwhelmed by customers beyond expectation, probably, that’s why these things are happening to the disadvantage and annoyance of customers- who knows.

In Bong, Lofa and Nimba Counties employees of some public and private institutions have, for the past weeks, been struggling to access their salaries to no avail, even though it had earlier been confirmed that their salaries had already been deposited at the bank. And the irony is that a few other banking institutions in those counties had even paid other employees of the same institutions doing business with them. Moreover, these employees spend fruitless hours in cues waiting to be ushered into the banking hall only to be told some else discouraging. So then, why mist these banks pay, while Ecobank finds it difficult to pay?

In part three of these series, there may be an expansion of these issues being discussed, and such discussion may extend to three years back when Ecobank-Liberia practically ran into trouble with a number of institutions, including one of the United Nations systems regarding the issues being raised in these articles.

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