Auto Pay!


I am not talking about paying the auto-rickshaw walla. I am talking about the mechanism or arrangement by some banks for automatic payment of your credit card bills by debit of your Savings Account. To lessen the burden of your having to write a cheque each time you get your credit card bill, remembering the last date for payment, running to the bank or such other locations to drop your cheque etc., the bank has evolved this nice system. All of you will agree that you have to give a specific instruction to the bank, if you want to avail of this facility, in writing and may be by filling up the necessary form for this purpose.

What turned out to be amazing for me, of course, was the ‘auto pay’ facility itself became auto or automatic, in my case, without my having to do anything and without my knowledge even. This is exactly what happened to me as if by magic, and for the first time I came to think of banks having the power of magic too.

Normally, when I get credit card bills, I used to clear them well before the due date through cheque payment. Similarly, I had also settled a bill for Rs. 16000/-. By a cheque. However I was surprised when I got the next statement (though there was no payment pending at that time) which had two entries, one below another: Auto Pay.. …..Rs. 16000/-; cheque received thank you………..Rs.16000/- . I had never given instructions to the bank regarding auto pay. I suddenly realized it was a case of double payment. If I had given instruction for auto pay, why should I issue a cheque again? Actually, the bank has ‘looted’ my money; they have taken from my account, without my knowledge and without waiting for the payment which I would have to make and which also had been promptly paid.

I called up the customer service people to verify the position and to confirm that it was actually a double payment. While they confirmed about the double payment, regarding the auto pay, they simply said: ‘Sir, aapka auto pay tha’. To my question, how this happened without my giving any instruction to them regarding this, their answer was: ‘idhar tho auto pay dhikhata hai’. Since i had not given any auto pay instruction, I wanted them to credit the extra amount immediately to my account,since it is they who have enjoyed the credit facility so far. While reluctantly agreeing, they said this would take minimum 21 working days. That meant that they would enjoy the credit facility ‘offered by me’ for another 21 days. No amount of pleading by me helped.

I could not really tolerate this attitude of the bank people. I immediately sent a hand-written (I didn’t have the iPad or any typing facility at that time, being an aged, retired recluse) addressed to the Chairman of the bank, explaining the situation and mentioning at the end – ‘ the purpose of this letter is to bring to your kind attention, what is going on below, the ground realities’. This was marked Personal & Confidential – To be opened by addressee only.

The next day or the day after (perhaps when the couriered letter would have actually landed in his hands)’ I got a call from the customer service people ‘sir, your Rs.16000/- has been credited to your account. Thank God, I uttered.

Chetan Bhagat, in one of his articles on the CWG scam, had remarked: people in India tolerate anything. I had been provoked to act like this, even before his article had appeared in the newspaper! Within my mind the thoughts ran like this: you (referring to me) got the credit, but it was your own credit; you didn’t get any extra credit for giving to your bank the facility of credit. That is my credit card (if at all someone wants to give credit to what I have written).


About cvsubramaniam

Former Director, Department of Electronics & Informatiin Technology, Government of India.. Authored Book on Human Resource Management. Published 80 plus articles on HR, Management, S&T, general topics.
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