Monday, August 24, 2009

Trials and Tribulations of Banking with SG-SSB

Thanks Emmanuel, for sharing your nightmare. It is indeed sad that your valuable time was wasted in that manner. The bank wasted their valuable time as well and this takes a toll on the nation's productivity. Hopefully, change will come as we make our voices heard.

In a style reminiscent of my ATM frenzy in May, where I spent hours looking for a working ATM, I spent the better part of the afternoon trying—yet again—to get money out – this time not just from the ATM, but also from the banking hall itself!
I save with SG-SSB, and wanted to get some money from there—only to be caught in some serious and heavy traffic around the so-called "Circle" road that leads up to BusyInternet for around forty minutes(!). Not to speak of the myriad of shortcuts that only led to…more traffic:-( When you start dosing in traffic and that heat emanating around the capital between 1 and 2 pm, then you know you’ve been in traffic for more time than necessary. It’s a good thing I had my sunglasses to hide behind my dosing;-)

Seriously, though, I cannot for the life of me understand why I had to chase all the SG-SSB banks in the ‘hood. I went to my own branch—only to be told that I couldn’t even withdraw money from my account because there was a memo on it about ATM transactions from…another branch! When I went to that other branch (Accra Main), which happens to be that of the picture I took, I spent a good thirty minutes shuttling between looking for the lady who wrote the memo, and the be-spectacled and pin-stripe-suit-clad manager (a very easygoing middle-aged man who was very affable) of the branch who broke between twi and very good English [he spoke twi with most of his bank staff!] who elucidated the whole mystery for me.

The explanation pissed me off no-end: what had spawned the memo, which had by way of condition "no withdrawal" of sorts, was something that could have taken a phone call to fix: at the time that the bank had withdrawn charges (15,000 GH Cedis [by July 2007, it will be 1.5 [new] GH Cedis] for the use of the ATM card, I had insufficient money in the bank. Very soon afterwards, I got some money in.
The problem, then, was a non-starter. All the bank had to do was to simply debit my account with the appropriate charges! As a result of this, it cost me a good three hours roaming round that part of the capital, and incurring a hefty sum of 190,000 Ghanaian cedis, which is around €17 for a good three hours.
That the taxi-driver had seen me going from bank to bank…to bank did not help me in shielding me from what I still consider to be an exorbitant sum. At least, I should have been charged 150,000 cedis maximum. He was complaining, looking all-pensive about that initial sum, saying he will be "hot", etc, so I was compelled to give him an extra 40,000—very much to my chagrin.

Long and short: remind me to remind you to (a) have sufficient money in the savings account next time, and (b) maybe, re-consider saving with this bank.If that sounds cruel, well, just to add that I liked the manner in which the manager had a walk-in policy; that was very encouraging. You don’t get that at my main bank of ECOBANK.

E.K Bensah II

Frustration with CEPS

Gladly sharing Francis Kwaku Egu's experience. Things could certainly be done better @ CEPS and it would be nice when the value of time is recognized. Thanks for sharing, Francis.
The Custom, Excise and Preventive Services (CEPS) have over the years contributed immensely for revenue generation into the national coffers. Officers of CEPS usually work under extremely dangerous conditions in attempts to curb smuggling. There were several occasions when this august organisation has exceeded its revenue collection targets for the year and the hard working officers must be hailed for good work done. This glowing feats notwithstanding this institution is been drawn into disrepute by some few bad elements within its rank and file. This is thus creating a very bad image for what could have been a glorious organisation.

Unaccompanied luggage

Sending items through the unaccompanied luggage system ran by some airlines could be a cost effective way for Ghanaians abroad to send items home to their families. However few people who have tried this service had declared it a no-go-area thanks to the attitude of some Custom officers at AFGO warehouse at Kotoka. In fact CEPS operates a laborious luggage searching and releasing system at the AFGO that usually leave passengers with a lot of battering and that was exactly happened to me when I decided to use this noble service.

Going back home on holidays after some years in sub zero- temperatures could be quite exciting. The sun is always present to welcome you and make you feel like going bare. What about the smiley faces that great you at Kotoka and those of every one you meet on the street. These cheerful smiles are always with you till you bid everyone farewell and fly into the unknown. Till you fly to the more organised world where Custom officers regard you as a customer and treat you as such. Where there is only sign that says ‘nothing to declare’ and whim! Off you go without any harassment.

The family and friends will always expect some few shining things from you. In fact it soothes the heart to know that these smooth and exquisite things give them joy and inner glows that take away the gloom enveloping them as well as many others in the larger society. A gloom that brings distant looks in faces that are oblivion to life surrounding them. The shining things bring them joy that had eluded them all these years you were apart from them. The cherished ones wait and yearn for such home comings. In some homes kete and borbor dancers go into frenzy to herald the return of the voyager. The special ones usually waited and craved longer if they are unfortunate to have their kith and kin living in Obama’s country. You wonder what keep some of these guys so long there. Some people think it’s the food; others believe its meat- ham burgers, meat balls, steaks, Donna kebabs etc. Gluttons!

The desire of bringing some sunshine into the lives of the dear ones could motivate you to go the extra mile by taking excess luggage and that was what I did. In order not to waste the pound bills which they will need so much while I am with them, I decided to use the unaccompanied luggage system. My trauma began when I had to pick them up them from the AFGO warehouse. I was told I needed the services of a clearing agent in order to get the luggage. Obtaining the services of the self styled clearing agent added fuel to an already burning fire.

Apart from this vampire sucking my blood he lacked what it takes to move the inspection officer from his throne in the Customs office to the ware house for the inspection. When the inspection officer was finally cajoled to descend from his throne after some palm greasing and praise singing (nana o nana, ahoofe, abrantie etc) then hell broke loose. The nosy officer flipped and flipped and flipped and flipped through every single item I bought for the loved ones. Flipping hell!!!!! Just some few days ago these scavengers turned my luggage inside out on my arrival and so they did to every single passenger that arrived that day. Is that all they are paid to do, sniffing through travellers’ belongings? Human- sniffer -dogs.


The whole process of examining luggage at AFGO warehouse was a bit out of touch with the modern world. Not a single scanner was present in the warehouse. Officers virtually sifted through every individual luggage mechanically. Considering the volume of baggage and cargoes that pass through the cargo section, this task could be daunting. There were so much congestions and unnecessary delays which caused unnecessary human sufferings. The mechanical way of nosing through peoples’ personal effects and cargoes slows down every one - businessmen, investors, students, tourist, holiday makers etc.

I heard the situation is bleaker at Tema Harbour. Guys who shipped their cars and other items through this port sang dirges and songs of lamentations after clearing them. They sang dirges about untold hardship and human degradation going on at the harbour. Why do officers of CEPS take so much delight in visiting pains on people? Who knows? Perhaps all these man induced delays and deliberate tortoise pace of doing things are perfect smoke screens. Smoke screens some could hide behind to fill very deep pockets. All these persecution and abuse of citizen’s rights are going on at our ports of entry yet the politicians are not bothered. Anyway why will they be when these human woes serve as bigger smoke screens for some of them (the politician) to fill bottomless pockets?

Searching of bags

During the several trips I made to the AFGO yard I bumped into this Custom officer (name with held) who was a former next door room- mate at Legon. This guy read BSc Admin at Legon. I believe there are other scholars and talented guys working with CEPS. I hope CEPS is not wasting these talents by letting them bury their heads in ladies’ hand bags and suit cases at Kotoka, Elubo and Afloa. I hope these noble guys have not been turned into human sniffer dogs and sniffing through ladies’ hand bags on daily basis.

Its time CEPS outsource the duty of nosing through ladies’ hand bags to private companies and move these able bodied officers to areas where they are most needed. For instance they could be drafted into the police services to help combat the arm robbery menace. The police are finding that job quite challenging and needed assistance. These are strong men with muscles like that of Hulk Hogan and all they use that for is to attack the luggage of innocent travellers.


The seasoned smugglers are not so dumb to cart their goods through Customs manned posts because they know the flippers will always be there. The professional one use foot paths littered across the borders over night and always find a way of getting them to shops in Makola. In the same vain the Dubai and China traders will always find a way to out smart these officers. In the end it’s our loving mothers whose dignities are thrown to dogs by these scavengers who empty the contents of their baggage in the full glare of everyone. Why should majority of law abiding travellers suffer because of some few greedy minority?

Francis Kwaku Egu, UK

Monday, August 10, 2009

Ghana Hall of Shame, August 2009

I had the priviledge of working in a major department store whilst working my way through college. It was a priviledge for me because if I had worked in a donut shop, I probably would weigh a ton by now considering my love for donuts.
I personally know customer service agents can't be perky all day, every day. However, when you sign-up for a task, you buckle up and do the very best.

One thing that kept us, customer service agents, on our toes during our work shifts was "The Mystery Shopper". The company would hire random people and send them to different stores to shop. We the sales associates and customer service agents never knew who these people were, but we knew this was a method the company used.
Nobody wanted to get bad reviews from a "Mystery Shopper" so we were pleasant to everyone and did our jobs very well.

I am hoping this site will be the "Mystery Shopper" at service oriented institutions in Ghana, where no individual or institution would want their name up here too many times.

My plan is to personally call the HR dept of any institution that gets mentioned here several times, and make them aware of issues customers have with them.
I believe that will lead to change.

Please share your stories