It was with great difficulty and after a lot of search that the Accountant could finally identify the poultry farm. The farm was spread over nearly 5 acres of land and there was the poultry shed without any chickens. There was also a watchman. BGR tried to collect some information from the watchman. He told BGR that the owner had abandoned the poultry farm as he incurred losses. He would visit the farm only once in a month. BGR asked him the telephone number of the owner. But the watchman told him that he does not know. Seeing BGR eliciting information from the watchman, the Accountant was feeling apologetic.
BGR collected the residential address of the party and went to his house in Goods Shed road after two days in the evening. This time he went alone. The watchman there enquired about his identity. Without revealing his identity, BGR told him that he had been called by the owner in connection with some business transaction. But the watchman told him that the owner had gone out instructing him not to allow anybody inside. BGR then told him that he knew his wife and would like to meet her for a while. But the watchman told him that she had gone to the temple. BGR then told him that he would wait.
At this stage, the watchman opened the big gate and allowed BGR inside. He offered him a chair to sit in the ground floor. He was told that the owner lived on the upstairs. It was like a fort. The ground floor was looking like an abandoned house with furniture and other sundry items thrown here and there. BGR waited there patiently. It turned out to be a long wait indeed. But BGR was bent upon meeting the party at any cost. However, with the night approaching fast and the lonely elderly watchman sitting outside the gate, the situation was getting rather scary for BGR. He also heard the continuous ringing of telephone on the upstairs. He started developing a “Bees Saal Baad” (the famous Hindi horror film of the sixties) syndrome! Just then he saw a lonely woman entering inside the gate! Fortunately for him she was not Waheeda Rehman (the film actress) as in the Hindi film!
The middle-aged lady turned out to be the wife of the owner. She wished BGR and enquired his purpose of visit. BGR then revealed his identity and gave her his visiting card. The lady told him that her husband had told her about the loan and that he wanted to do something. BGR then collected the telephone number and left the place telling her that he would telephone her husband on the next day.
BGR spoke to the gentleman over phone on the next day. He requested him to come over to the branch and have a discussion. After a couple of days the borrower visited the branch and went through his account. He told BGR that he was interested in settling his dues, but the bank had charged more interest. BGR told him that the bank was contemplating filing a suit and it would be better for him to pay at least Rs5 lakh immediately. To the great surprise of BGR and Guruvaiah, the borrower came back after a few days and remitted Rs5 lakh in cash! It was a huge recovery as far as the branch was concerned. The party also assured BGR that he would settle the balance amount subject to bank offering some concession in interest. BGR assured him in the matter.
The Cranky Professor and his Elusive Gold (Card) Hunting Mission!
BGR as a professional banker never allowed extraneous pressures or bullying tactics to affect his decision taking ability. He had to witness a dramatic scene in handling the affairs of a professor from a reputed Institute in Bangalore. One particular Sunday, 15 days after taking charge of the branch, BGR was busy locating balancing differences at the branch along with his team. In walked a gentleman wearing full suit and tie. He appeared to be dominating personality and a man in a hurry. The following was the dialogue:
Gentleman: (In a loud voice) May I know what you people are doing here on this holiday (Sunday)?
BGR: We are attending some important pending work.
Gentleman: Who is the Manager here?
BGR: I am the Manager here (takes him to his cabin).
Gentleman: I am Professor Anand (name changed) of the prestigious Institute of Bangalore.
BGR: What can I do for you sir?
Professor: I have an account with you. I know all the top executives of your bank including those in HO/CO/RO. I have attended many Customers’ Meetings in HO and pointed out several deficiencies in the working of the branch.
BGR: I see.
Professor: Let me caution you! I am capable of transferring those managers who are not giving good customer service!
BGR: I have worked in different branches as a Manager. I have taken charge here only a fortnight ago.
Professor: You better take care and work well here. Otherwise you may have to face a complaint!
BGR: We are trying our best to extend good services with the available resources sir.
Professor: I keep meeting the executives of your bank often. In case I am not happy with your service, you can expect a transfer from here! Do you understand?
BGR: (Jocularly) Sir! Why don’t you meet some executives and get me a transfer right now so that I could be more comfortable there? Despite working on Sundays I am finding the work not catching up here!
(The Professor does not respond. He leaves the branch telling BGR that he would get back after some time)
The professor revisited the branch after some time and asked for a Gold Card application. He collected the application telling BGR that he would hand it over duly completed next time. He came back a few days later and gave the application for Rs1 lakh Gold Card. He also told BGR that he will not accept a Gold Card for less than Rs1 lakh! BGR told him that the bank had certain norms for the issue of gold card and he would be issued a card according to his eligibility.
BGR found the professor eligible for a gold card of Rs25,000 only considering his networth and other aspects. He then recommended the same based strictly as per the norms laid down by the bank. After some days the professor went to CO and told the AGM B V L Rao that he had tendered an application for a Gold Card of Rs1 lakh at Langford Town branch and he needed it urgently. BVL telephoned BGR who told him that he had recommended the card for Rs25,000 only as per his eligibility. He also told BVL to enquire whether the professor had already applied through some other branch.
BGR received the card for Rs25,000 after some days. The professor turned up at the branch after a few days when BGR handed over the card to him. Seeing the card for Rs25,000 only, he got wild and refused to accept the same. He started shouting:
Prof: I had clearly told your AGM BVL Rao that I would not accept a card for less than for Rs1 lakh. How come I am being issued a card for Rs25,000 now?
Prof: You connect me to him on telephone right now. Let me speak to him.
BGR: What for?
Prof: How can he do this? Has he forgotten that I am a professor at the prestigious Institute? I would also like to talk to your HO.
BGR: There is no need for you to talk to anybody.
BGR: It was I who recommended for the card for Rs25,000. Let me tell you it is strictly based on the norms and as per your eligibility.
Prof: Oh! Now I understand. How can you do this to me?
(Starts shouting at the top of his voice)
BGR: Let me make it very clear to you. The Gold Cards are issued at the discretion of the bank and not on demand. There is no way you can browbeat me to issue a card for a limit more than what you are eligible.
Prof: I would take up the matter during the Customer Meet at HO and see that you issue me the card for Rs1 lakh only. I would talk to your Chairman directly. You will know what this Professor is capable of !
(Leaves the branch in a huff)
BGR then telephoned BVL and told him about what happened. He was upset and was in a fix. But BGR made it clear that he is not going to recommend a limit more than what the professor was eligible.
BGR then made enquiries with some other professor of the Institute. He was told that the professor was eccentric and a problematic personality everywhere including the Institute and there were charges against him. BGR then felt that his stand was correct and he would not be cowed down by the threats posed by the Professor. He came to know later that the Professor went to a Customer Meet at HO and created a scene there. The officials there were quite aware of his eccentric personality and they just ignored him by treating the matter lightly. However, he continued his efforts by visiting HO/CO for over a month. But he failed miserably in his mission to get the card for Rs1 lakh. Thereafter he stopped visiting the branch.
------- (To be continued)
A V Krishnamurthy
1st November 2012