Thursday, February 26, 2009

3 Reasons Why Ecobank Ghana Sucks

convenient, reliable, accessible

Ecobank is a bank with a strong presence in Ghana, and many other African countries. I save with them because a friend whose opinion I value and who is a past Ecobank employee recommended them on the basis of their accessibility. He cautioned that the banking experience might not be great, but declared them the best bank in Ghana. Also, I had been passively following the bank’s activities for a while and gotten the sense that financially, the bank was doing well. I’d heard talk of a 2.5 billion dollar equity offer, which according to the bank’s website, is the first and largest public offer to be made in the region. All signs were positive. So based on my friend’s recommendation and on what information I found on their website, I took my chances. After nearly five months of doing business with them, and having thoroughly regretted my decision to save with them, to describe my experience as one that has been far from positive would be putting it mildly. I witnessed another client encountering problems with the bank so it would appear that I’m not the sole disgruntled customer. A bank which advertises itself to be “convenient, reliable, and accessible” should not consistently fail in delivering on this promise.
I’ve decided to share my experiences because I’d like to demonstrate how Ecobank is failing us in hopes that it will get them to do something about it. I could move to another bank, but I’d like to try to get Ecobank to fix itself. But if nothing changes, I know what to do.

1. Not Convenient

The other unhappy client I mentioned was someone who has an account in Liberia, but was in Ghana on business and had written himself a check that he needed to cash. After the many endorsements to be made had been made, he was told to return the following day. The man, being more patient than I politely asked if the money would be ready for pick up the next day. The banker’s response? “God willing”. The client repeated incredulously “God willing?” Even I, just looking on could understand his frustration. What had God to do with this? The bank was either going to work on getting his money to him or it was not. “But I thought this was a trans-national bank?” he stressed. Somehow the banker started to speak like the client was the one being unreasonable, when in fact, he had every right to expect a more efficient service.

My own experience that day wasn’t any better. First, why did I have to go to the bank to pick up my check books and ATM cards, instead of picking them up in the mail? Why couldn’t Ecobank offer that service for clients like me who have some scruples about taking an hour from the time that our employees pay us to work to conduct our own business? After standing in line for most of the hour that I was there, I still did not receive my ATM cards. The cards were not ready although a month had passed since I'd ordered them. I was able to cash some money (something I couldn’t do at an ATM because I did not have an ATM card), and get a bank statement but that took some waiting in line as well. It seemed that the tellers were spending about five minutes with each person who just needed to either deposit or withdraw money. Why are they so slow? Having spent an hour already, I decided to get back to work instead of waiting another hour to finish what business I still had to conduct.

2. Not Reliable

To be reliable is to be dependable. On two consecutive days, I went to the bank during working hours only to be told that their system was down and so I could not get my money. Thankfully on those two days, I did not need the money urgently. I was taking it to pay for gym membership so not getting the money on those two days only cost me time. But I still wondered, what if my mother was sick, and I needed money to rush her to the hospital? Ecobank would have failed me on two consecutive days and it would have taken me 3 days to access my own money. A reliable bank is one that can be relied on to function as expected, all day, every working day of the year. From my experience, I’ll say Bank of America is reliable. I can’t say the same for Ecobank.

Note that this happened was at a time when I had still not gotten an ATM card from them even though i’d been saving with them for over a month and had ordered the card. So I couldn’t have gotten money from an ATM. I had money in the bank, but no way to withdraw it. What a banking experience, and from what is touted to be the best bank in Ghana too!

3. Not Accessible

If Ecobank interprets accessibility only in terms of placing ATM machines and bank branches in locations where people can find them, then they are doing well. But common sense tells me that the point of taking the ATM machines and banks closer to the people is so that the customers can access the money when they need it. In this, they are not doing well.

Just this morning, I went back to the bank because I wanted to withdraw more money than is allowed at an ATM cash point. (The daily limit for withdrawals is 400 cedis). I had my ATM card with me as well as other forms of identification, but not my check book. I’ve been spoiled by the US where with only my ATM card and identification, I could get my money at no fee so I was optimistic that not having my check book would not be problematic. The teller informed me that the only way to get my money was to get a bank check, and one leaf of it would cost me 2 cedis. I initially thought she was joking. God, I wished she was joking but she wasn’t and I could not allow myself to be ripped off this way so I did not pay the two cedis and consequently, I did not get my money.

So what do we do about it? Just rant and leave it at that only to have to deal with it again next time, or worse, throw our hands up in the air in despair? No, of course WE CAN do something and I have the following suggestions:

1. Let Ecobank Know

If you know any Ecobank employees, particularly workers who have some authority such as the CEO, please copy and paste the link to this post to them in an email with the subject “3 Reasons Why Ecobank Ghana Sucks” and see if s/he pays attention. Reading this along with other people's comments might nudge them to do better?

2. Let Ecobank’s Competitors Know

Send it to any friend who works in another bank. Maybe that bank could work on pleasing customers where Ecobank has failed and by so doing, capture some of Ecobank’s share of the market.

3. Conduct Your Own Research

I’m hopeful that at the very least, you will do a better job at researching banks before you pick one and save yourself the unnecessary wahala I have had to deal with.

See what other Ghana Bloggers have to say about Ecobank :

1. To Whom It May Concern

2. Ecobank Visa Gold Cedi Credit Card. First in Ghana

3. Ecobank Group Launches New Brand Identity


  1. Welcome to the Club my Dear. This is Ghana.
    If I was to write a book about my nasty experiences with Ecobank Ghana, it would be in volumes. I had hitherto been restraining myself from sharing my experience publicly but I would consider doing that soon.
    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Perhaps writing about them publicly would make them get their acts together but I assure you that Ecobank is still one of the best banks in Ghana. You might loose your mind if you moved to another bank due to the more silly policies and extortions.

  3. @David, it looks like my friend Nana Ama agrees with you. This is what she had to say

    "In absolute terms, I'd say a big yes! In relative terms (comparing to some of its top competitors in the country), not quite. I still haven't had the courage to open a local bank acct . Still shopping around after 3 months!"

    Don agrees with Nana Ama, saying "u think ecobank sucks! hmm wait till u go to GCB, prudential, barclays or standchart...u'll regret!"

    And it looks like one person had a good experience with Ecobank. She says "I didn't have the same experience with Ecobank"

    On the other hand, My friend Nana has this to say:

    "Hmm, Esi I feel you on this post. I am also an ECOBANK customer. I had numerous challenges with getting my atm card and cheque book when I initially opened my account.

    The challenges have not stopped. Yesterday for e.g. I went to the A&C Mall to use the cash machine there, it wasn't working. Fortunately I had my cheque book so wrote myself a cash cheque, when I got to the cashier she asked if i had my new account number (for some reason ECOBANK changed the account numbers but it does not appear that they automatically sent new cheque books for free). This meant I had to sit and wait until she could find out my new account number. On a plus the cashier was polite so I did not mind waiting too much.

    What has improved my experience with ECOBANK has been making such a huge fuss when I initially opened by account and had all the challenges. The staff at my local branch know that "I do not play" so now I get good service with a smile. I even have a good relationship with my branch now and sometimes they provide little snacks to me and other customers. I have even been invited to skip the queue sometimes:)"

    In other news, good news, upon someone's suggestion, I went back to the bank and saw someone higer up. I eventually got my money without paying the 2 cedis! Even cooler, she had already heard that I'd bashed Ecobank on the internet. I also got a lovely 2009 Ecobank diary. wooohooo!

  4. On a recent trip to Ghana, I learned that customer service was anywhere between optional and non-existent everywhere, banks, restaurants, supermarkets etc.

    With that said, I had a very humiliating experience with GHANA COMMERCIAL BANK. Someone (don't know exactly what his position was except for the fact that he “greeted” with an oh so pleasant look on his face after I had walked up to him and asked for help as to where I needed to pick up my money transfer) out of no where yelled at me to “Come on, get out” in front of EVERYONE in the bank for talking on my phone [I needed to confirm the pin number and I didn’t want to loose my place in line]. He pretty much kicked me out in a very nasty way, but before I left to finish my call, I had him know (with my voice raised so everyone could hear me) that first off, I wasn’t there to break his rules, secondly, he was very unprofessional and had no right to treat a customer in such a demeaning manner and suggested that he seek some training in the customer service department and also to make sure they put up visible signs of what their rules were to avoid this situation from happening in the future.

    The teller who “helped” me was another nightmare but I’m not going to get into that part of the story. She was extremely rude, but I digress. After I finished my transaction, the very man who yelled at me opened the door for me, thanked me for coming in and wished me a good day…

    It truly saddens me to say this but they put the most incompetent people at some of the most important jobs in Ghana. I got a sense of everyone feeling self important because
    1. They were sitting in some office with nice clothes as opposed to hustling elsewhere
    2. They were going to be paid whether or not the helped out a customer in need and
    3. They weren’t going to be held accountable for their actions

    I think that people need to speak up more and not accept the crappy service that they have been receiving all these years and become accustomed to.

    I have more horror bank stories but I guess I will save those for another day ;)

  5. Hmm Esi, just FYI I experienced 3 in HSBC London. I was on my way to the airport and wanted to get more cash than I could get with the ATM card. I had my passport on me and everything, but because I didn't bring my checkbook or my withdrawal booklet they refused to serve me. At least these guys offered to sell you a bank check. I had to beg the taxi driver to take me home and back to the bank before going to the airport. Thankfully I still managed to make the flight.

  6. Haha...I was about to write that I had a fairly good experience at Ecobank but it seems that you also experienced the wait for the ATM card. It took about 6 weeks plus to get mine but the people at the bank were very polite to me and vice versa. I have realized that customer service is lacking in Ghana and the more you compare it to America or other places outside Ghana, the more disppointed you will be.

    I always say, to live in Ghana, you have to be prepaed for the disappointments and introduce change gradually. It would not happen overnight but at least, this is a start. I suggest you send this in a letter to your branch or to all the Ecobank branches and let them know what you think and what your suggestions are. If you don't convey this to them, how else will they change? Maybe they have not had any direct complaints from any of their actual customers!

  7. Relax. Ecobank actually gives a better deal than most of the other banks. At least you got the offer to pay 2 cedis for a bank check when you didn't have yours on you. I have an account with Ghana Commercial Bank and i once needed money when i was on another side of town, away from my branch. I usually use the ATM and never carry withdrawal checks on me. I got to a branch, which wasn't mine, and the ATM was not working (that's not unusual, by the way) and so had go into the banking hall. I was told to go to my branch to withdraw money as i didn't have my withdrawal checkbook, and of course i had to use up some fuel to get to my branch.

    I wonder what use the sample signature i provided when opening the account is. And what about the photo? Couldn't they have just compared those with the signature i provided and my face and given me MY money?

    I could understand your frustration, Esi. You have tasted a system that works. I don't think having a system like Bank of America's (picking checks and ATM cards for the mail, getting replacements for checkbooks before the current one gets used up without requesting for them) will require some extraordinary effort.

    There isn't much competition in this sector and a lot more sectors in our dear country. Any new business has to do just a little more to be on top (the best among the worst), like allowing the use of bank checks for a 2 cedis fee when others wouldn't allow it at all.

    The way out... We could make all the noise but until we have some bank that means real business, a quantum leap ahead of all the others to shake things up, we may just have to endure the raw deal we're getting. I may be wrong though...

  8. Esi, I do agree with you that our work at ECOBANK has been challenging lately. Although I agree that we could make our services better, I think you came in later on that day to talk to someone higher up and she did do something about your complaint. Correct me if I am mistaken?

  9. @Esi--Ecobank is relatively decent by comparison to all the other banks.

    As for the transnational payment problem--blame the politicians. To move cash around in ECOWAS you have to fill so many forms and answer so many colonial-era questions you'll go home in frustration!

    Like you've observed, Ecobank responds positively to well-intentioned tantrums. They are proud of the fact that they're are relatively progressive. In general I've found that getting face-time with the branch manager usually works wonders for future transactions with the cashier/clerks. Yes, even at Ghana Commercial Bank :)

    As much as I hate acting up, it does serve a useful purpose for all customers, especially when the tantrum is thrown in public :) My favorite tactic is refusing to speak English while demanding my full rights. Sometimes it turns out there are perfectly rational reasons for their behaviour but they don't consider you (the customer) important enough to explain their instructions to you.

    A little civic activism is good for all of us--thank you for sharing.

  10. Anonymous, Esi does add that she went in to see someone later on and her issue was sorted.
    Point is though, that it would be nice if things were gotten right the first time round without a body having to go back in to see someone higher up.
    We appreciate the fact that you are trying but the situation is still difficult for us customers......

  11. Hmm Esi you have no idea no idea the hell i go through with my Ecobank credit card. the only reason i still have that card is because it really is the only one currently in ghana i can use to pay for my online course. please if anyone knows of anyother way please let me know. i have good friends in Ecobank but the credit card, Gosh that whole credit card department really sucks

  12. Hmm, this Ecobank issue is very interesting.They are the 2nd bank i've signed on to and maybe i might say that my satisfaction with their service is because i might not have experienced anything better.Well i hear from friends who have to queue for hours at GCB to withdraw casg and i'm all open-eyed cos i've never had that experience with them.The usual "ATM out of Service" and "link downage" problems seem to be "normal" but i guess for their higher end services like international transfers and foreign payments etc need some serious revamping.I'll forward the comments to an Ecobank stuff and see what they can come up with, but personally, they are the lesser of the "many evils" of the banks.Maybe they are offering good services at their KNUST branch because of the multitude of options we have here.Ecobank shares a wall with HFC, which shares a wall with GCB, which shares a wall with Stanchart, which shares a wall with Barclays and just behind these ones we have UBA and CAL Bank announcing their presence boldly.I just signed up with CAL Bank to take them for a test drive so lets see what difference they can bring.cheers guys!!!

  13. wow. Esi. What can I say? I signed up to ECOBANK in 2005. AT least to the A&C branch in the yr that the mall started. I had a lot of positive things to say back then: I agree that their standards have slipped, but generally, they're not bad.

    I have horror stories with GCB Tetteh-Quarshie branch(Gulf House); and SG-SSB (oh, terrible!! :

    As for paying for online things, you don't need a credit card; I have an ECOBANK Classic Card, and that's how I got my domain name for, for example.

    I've always seen ECOBANK as a palpable example of West African integration--as it is supported by ECOWAS. These days, though, it's grown into a bit of an amorphous multinational that needs to be checked on!

    Keep complaining, though; it's good, but some of us have done so in the early days.It's what KSM in his "Castle or Suicide" (saw it on GTV on 6 March) calls "Baptism" of the Ghana spirit; you'll soon see that some things cannot be changed without fighting consistently and single-mindedly;-))

  14. Complaining gets results....lots of results. AND it helps to know people in various departments (apart from your branch manager) especially the e-process section. But really Ecobank's services went downhill after their change in software: i still think they could have phased it in, in a more efficient manner (like run a pilot). Esi you are doing a great job. Keep it up

  15. 1. Took me like a month to get a cheque book
    2. About 3 mths to get a debit card- Got it after countless emails, phone calls and walking to the head office when I should be productive.
    3. Haven't recieved any bank statement for like 4 mths now- I keep asking for it and they tell me it'll come. I've given up.
    4. Yes, their tellers are real slow...

    But for all this poor service, I'll advise u not to move. Can't find a bank that I can recommend as being able to fill the void.
    I have accounts with 3 other Banks, and I think the customer dis-service at Ecobank is tolerable.
    As for GCB, please don't say anything.
    Psssst- GCB's "we serve you better" slogan should be changed to "we swerve you better".

    @ Paa Kwesi,
    I'll try your not speaking in English thing one of these days.

  16. I agree with all of you, but don't you think these complaints are mostly coming from clients of the A&C mall branch of ecobank. I am also a customer and it took the bank over 6 months to reverse a wrong ATM debit made on my account.To add insult to injury I get a call from one of their staff members insulting me for reporting the matter to their customer service at their head office. I think that branch needs a total house cleaning

  17. I have always looked at Ecobank as a perfect bank until I became its customer this year and it failed me miserably. It consistently failed (over two months) on its promise to issue a credit card to me to process my admission to a college in the USA. Each time I visited the bank, the employees tell me different stories; it is clear that either they are ignorant or I they prefer to be annoying. Eventually, I got the card but it was declined and the bank's staff couldn't offer any meaningful assistance. Finally I used some alternatives to make the processing; but because of Ecobank's big delays and non-responsiveness, I still lost my admission. How painful !

  18. so which bank is better now in Ghana