Saturday, June 30, 2012

Looking Back - Episode –17

Before continuing with some more personalities of the branch I would like to cover some of the important and interesting clients of our branch in those days. I am not sure whether those clients are existent even today and are still the clients of our bank. But my account should fairly cover the type of customers and their business of those days (early seventies).
The VIP Customer (Mr. X)!
In those days very few persons in Shimoga used to wear full suit. It was restricted mostly to lecturers in Sahyadri College, some government top officials and some teachers in High Schools. But there was one senior gentleman (Mr. X) in the city who would be invariably in full suit. This gentleman was a nightmare to the banking community! It seems he had carried some vendetta from his previous birth against bankers!
He would walk into any bank of his choice on the given day. He would go to some counter and start firing without looking at any particular employee for some unknown fault! He would speak in perfect English and shout at the top of his voice! It was a total solo performance! The other customers in the counter would be shocked to witness the show. The show would last for 5-10 minutes! He would simply walk out after the show! None of us knew who this gentleman was. We were so accustomed to his special performance that we would watch the show silently. But our NRG Prasad was not the person to keep quiet! The moment he saw this gentleman entering, he would call anyone of us in his loud voice and announce that ‘your father-in-law has arrived’! It used to be a difficult job for us to hold back our laughter till the gentleman left the branch!
Srinivasa Hall & Blue Bird Dry Cleaners - the First Day Accounts!
Srinivasa Hall was a textile shop in Gandhi Bazaar (Doddapet) that had a current account with our branch. The firm was in the habit of issuing cheques without maintaining the funds in the account. A number of cheques would be presented in clearing. The party would ask us to honour certain cheques only by remitting cash to cover them. All other cheques would bounce. At a particular stage we had to stop issuing chequebooks to the party. Blue Bird Dry Cleaners was another such party. There were some more similar parties. These parties had big shops but lacked financial discipline. They had become undesirable customers to most of the banks.
A number of banks opened their first branch in Shimoga in the seventies after bank nationalization. The managers of these banks would visit the big shops to get their current accounts. The parties cited by me above would jump at the opportunity and open their accounts on the inaugural day itself and collect  100 leaves chequebooks. They would go on a cheque issuing spree thereafter! This became a common feature. In fact whenever we met employees of  a new bank branch we would ask them whether these parties have opened their accounts! They would be surprised but the answer used to be ‘yes’ invariably! These  new banks would have a good turnover of dishonoured cheques till the parties exhausted their stock!
Balaji Electricals – The Depleting Bank deposit!
One day a senior gentleman tendered a current account passbook in the name of Balaji Electricals to me for entries. While making entries I observed that the account had a balance of nearly Rs10,000 and had virtually no operations. The bank was debiting half-yearly incidental charges to the account as per rules and hence the balance was getting depleted slowly. After I handed over the passbook back, the gentleman told me that he needed some clarification. His question was simple. He wanted to know how the balance in his account was coming down after the credit of half-yearly interest! Initially I could not make out what he was telling. But soon I could make out that he was expecting credit of interest for the balance held in his account.
The amount of Rs10,000 was a quite huge in those day standards. He could have purchased ten 30X40 sites in Shimoga! It seems he was particular about keeping the money in the name of the firm. But the bank rules did not allow the opening of a savings account in the name of a firm. By keeping the amount in a current account earning no interest, he was losing the money itself! I explained the matter to him and advised him to keep the money in his personal account in SB that would fetch him interest. He said he would get back. But he never came back.
About six months later, a young man came to the bank with the same passbook. He told me that it was his father’s account and he wanted to close the account and get back the money. I asked him to send his father. But he told me that his father was absconding since last four months! When this case was referred to legal advisor, we were told that a missing complaint was to be filed with the police by the family. The legal heirs could claim the amount only after seven years after such complaint if the man did not come back! The family was helpless. They had to watch the bank balance depleting while the head of the family was absconding!
Vasu Traders – The Tractor Loan (Gift?) Account!
Our bank was the first bank in Shimoga to sanction a tractor loan. The tractor was handed over to a party called Vasu Traders at a function by our Deputy General Manager Shri B V Bhandary. The function was a great event in Shimoga. The photograph was prominently displayed in our branch premises also.
Everything appeared hanky-dory initially. But there was only one problem. It appears that the party got an impression that the tractor was a free gift, as the same had been handed over to him in a function! Forget about the loan repayment, the party did not even show his face at our branch after the function. However, the tractor was fully engaged!
As all efforts to recover the loan failed, the tractor was seized nearly three years later. The party was least perturbed as he had made good money already. Before auctioning the same, the branch was asked to get a valuation certificate from a certified valuer. The valuer estimated the value at Rs5,000 against the original price of Rs27,000 stating that it was not in a good running condition! The divisional office of the bank was not convinced of this low valuation. It asked the branch to advise the valuer to give a fresh valuation assuming that the bank would spend some money to bring it to the working condition.
The valuer gave a fresh valuation as below:
“The value of the tractor in the present condition is estimated atRs5,000. If however, an amount of Rs2,000 is spent on overhauling the vehicle, it can be valued at Rs7,000 (Rs seven thousand)!”
A simple arithmetic indeed! The valuer had attached an additional bill of Rs250 for the fresh valuation!
------- (To be continued)
A V Krishnamurthy
30th June 2012

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