Starting an account with ICICI Bank Part 2

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

Last week, I completed the application form for an ICICI HiSAVE Savings account.

8 days later, I received an e-mail from ICICI:

Welcome to ICICI Bank Canada. Your Personal Savings Account CAD has been successfully opened. Please send us a personal cheque for any amount with your name pre-printed on it to activate your account. The cheque should be drawn on a Canadian Financial Institution and made payable to yourself. Kindly mail the cheque to:

ICICI Bank Canada
P.O. Box 58
Toronto, ON
M5X 1B1

Upon receipt and clearing of the cheque, we will send your Internet Banking User ID. Your Internet Banking Password would be sent to you separately. If you have any questions, please call us toll-free at 1-888-ICICI-CA (1-888-424-2422).

I already mailed the cheque immediately after completing the online application, so I guess this e-mail is a bit late? The wait continues…

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5


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20 thoughts on “Starting an account with ICICI Bank Part 2

  1. Sandy says:

    I too decided to give this bank a try. The trial started in March, 2007. My cheque was cashed, an electronic statement arrived and still I could not log in to my account! Customer service consists of being subjected to people who are reading from scripts (no independent problem solving…)to assist you. You are continually told to call back in two days! Access to my account was granted only after SEVERAL phone calls and speaking to three supervisors (who are not usually available). I transferred my money as soon as I was able – it took two tries.

    Upon seeing the newest interest rate, I decided to give them one more try. Beginning on July 3/07 I have tried linking an external account to the ICICI account. Not happening. Repeated calls to the help centre have yet to yield results. I have been told to call back, that the system is down, that maintenance of the system is taking place, that I have keyed in the wrong account numbers (I have not) and that a supervisor will only give me the same information if he/she was not busy and available to speak to me! All the while, the assistant is parroting me (“As I understand you, you are having a problem linking external accounts.”) and not understanding the real problem.

    My last call was placed on July 30/07 and I have decided to take my business elsewhere. I think I should be able to access the account in a month’s time (compare to ING). Isn’t that the point of internet banking?! Too frustrating, limited access (due to poor online system), dreadful customer service and seeming incompetence/inability to deal with the demands of an international banking consumer have led to this decision. No amount of interest is worth the headache!

  2. Sandy says:

    In my last post I forgot to mention that the items they say they will send DO NOT come – ever. Trying to get my Password was like pulling teeth from a tiger – even after my online statement had been posted.

    “Upon receipt and clearing of the cheque, we will send your Internet Banking User ID. Your Internet Banking Password would be sent to you separately. If you have any questions, please call us toll-free at 1-888-ICICI-CA (1-888-424-2422).”

  3. Andrew Symington says:

    Just wanted to quickly mention my experiences with ICICI. I have been their customer in the UK and have had an account there for over 2 years. I believe their UK operations started slightly before their Canadian shop. Like in Canada, their UK division also gives the highest rate in terms of a savings account. So they want to be market leaders in each market or geography.

    In Canada, I opened a HiSAVE account online and have had a decent experience. I received my Welcome Kit and online banking password within a couple of days of each other. I have also logged in a call to their call centre, which I understand is in India. There too they were courteous and answered my questions, albeit on the second attempt.

    Their rate of 4.5% makes it worth it. Note, that rate makes the return on par with a medium risk equity or mutual fund, plus you have the added guarantee of the CDIC where your deposits are insured. Also factor in the $20 referral bonus that you make upto $500, in to your rate of return. It works out way more that the 4.5% or even the 5% offered by HSBC. Mind you HSBC has ignored their exisiting customers by offering the 5% only to new ones.

  4. Roger says:

    I have an account with ICICI here in Canada and although i have heard tons of negative reviews about them i have yet to experience any of that. I guess i was one of the few lucky ones because wow there are tons of complaints about them. The most common i hear is their customer support reps aren’t helpful and their english is poor because their naturally Indian speaking…For me when i’ve called i have never had problems with their accents nor getting things done.

    About a month back they did have online banking issues where when i tried to transfer money it would give me an error message and couldnt be completed. That was annoying. But it seems resolved now.

    Peter: yes this happened to me as well. When i sent my check their email response arrived late to me. It didn’t mean anything except to serve as a reminder since they are still waiting on the check or still processing it. Interestingly, you can actually call them RIGHT NOW and get your Customer ID that you would need to log into your account bypassing the need to wait for it in the mail. By having your customer ID you would then have the ability to log into your online account right now. Just click the “Forgot Password” link and enter your details there…OH BUT IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT YOU MUST LET THEM KNOW U WANT TO ACTIVATE UR ACCOUNT WHEN YOU GET YOUR ID OVER THE PHONE BECAUSE ALTHOUGH YOU HAVE THE ID AND USE THE FORGOT PASSWORD LINK THERE SEEMS TO BE A ACTIVATION BUTTON ON THEIR END THAT THEY NEED TO SELECT BEFORE THE PASSWORD CHANGE WILL WORK. Once your in your account you will see your iniital deposit still pending clearing. From what i understand, once the clearing goes through it is then they send you your ID and password (different envelopes) which i feel would take too long. Hope you were clever enough to get a $20 referal so as to give us your thoughts if ICICI was Honest enough to deposit the bonus.

    Great on-going article btw Pete.

  5. Craig says:

    I am in the process of “trying” to open an online savings account with ICICI Canada. I went through their online application about three weeks ago and sent an initial deposit cheque as they instructed. About five days later, I got a generic email from ICICI advising that they received my deposit cheque, but I needed to call them for unspecified reasons before they could process it. I called their “customer service” number and spoke with a lady who had a very heavy Indian accent (I assume ICICI has farmed their call centre to some contractor located in India). She informed me that I needed to send them copies of two pieces of identification, one of which had to be my Social Insurance Card, and the other a piece of photo ID such as a driver’s license or passport. This is the first time I had ever been asked to do this by any bank offering online services, but as I have nothing to hide, and privacy is an illusion in this country anyway, I went along and faxed copies of my SIN and driver’s license to the fax number the lady provided me. That was two weeks ago, haven’t heard a peep from ICICI since. I plan on calling them to find out what is going on. Somehow, I expect to be told that they never received the ID documents, or that they “lost” my deposit cheque.

    I agree with other posters about the lack of a “warm fuzzy feeling” when dealing with ICICI. I had originally planned to transfer the cash portion of my RRSP holdings to this bank, but I’m having second thoughts about entrusting ICICI with my retirement savings. I’ve read some other blogs on this bank, most of which lambasted the abysmal customer service. Some posters reported problems getting credit for promotions (e.g. $20 referral for account opening, etc…). Others reported intermittent access to online accounts and delays getting funds transferred. I also have a funny feeling about their current 4.5% interest rate. Is there anyone else out there who suspects that ICICI will pull a fast one a few months down the road and lower their rate back down to 4.0%? If you look at their online rate history, you will notice that their most recent jump from 3.75% to 4.5% is way out of proportion with previous rate hikes. I suspect the current rate of 4.5% is really a promotional rate in disguise. Only time will tell I guess. I plan to keep a very modest amount in my ICICI account (if I ever get one) and see what happens.

  6. Craig says:

    UPDATE: Tuesday August 7, 2007

    I called ICICI “customer service” and spoke with yet another lady who had a very heavy Indian accent (NOTE: I have nothing against India or Indians, it is just very frustrating having to ask someone to repeat herself 3-4 times so I can understand what she is saying). I advised the lady that I had faxed the identification documents that ICICI requested. The lady put me on hold for 5 minutes while she searched for the fax. When she returned, she advised that they had received my fax, but the ID documents could not be read because of poor fax quality. When i asked why ICICI had not bothered to call or email me to explain this, she advised that it was MY responsibility to call THEM. I held my temper and explained that I had used the highest resolution setting possible to send the fax, but I would try to re-send it again anyway. The lady advised me to call “customer service” about 3 hours after sending the fax to confirm that the fax was acceptable. I’ll probably get around to doing this tomorrow.

    ICICI is not making a good impression on me to say the least. If they have further “problems” with my follow-up fax, I may just put a stop payment on my initial deposit cheque and tell them to stuff their savings account. PC financial is looking to be a much better choice at the moment. Their rate is currently 4% (0.5% less than ICICI, and you have to maintain a mimimum balance), but at least they are a subsidiary of a major Canadian bank (CIBC) and their customer service reps all speak coherent english (at least the ones I’ve dealt with).

  7. Craig says:

    UPDATE: Wednesday August 8

    Tried to re-fax copies of my ID. TWICE. Total of three times. Both cases today were the same. I was expected to fax the info then call THEM. Both times, they said ythey couldn’t read the fax. The originals are high-quality photocopies. ZThe fax machine I am using is a high-quality office fax. GET A NEW FAX MACHINE ICICI CANADA!!!!!!

    So now I have to mail the ID documents in. Maybe I’ll send them COD and see what happens…

    Not liking ICICI…

  8. Craig says:

    UPDATE: August 13, 2007

    Received an email from ICICI Canada on August 11 (Saturday) saying something to the effect of “welcome to ICICI, your new savings account has been opened”. Also noticed that my first deposit cheque was cashed with a posting date of August 9. The email also said that I would be receiving a user ID and password to access their online banking website. Presumably this information will come by regular mail if ICICI follows the standard practices of the other online banks.

    These events were unexpected considering the hassle that ICICI is putting me through vis a vis my identification documents (see previous posts). I still have not sent copies of my ID docs by mail. I think I will wait a week or so to see if the account info arrives. Maybe somebody at ICICI actually took a few moments to have a closer look at my faxes and were able to read my ID docs. Or maybe they are just a typical bloated bureaucracy where the right hand has no idea what the left hand is doing. My money is on the latter scenario. We’ll see what happens…

  9. Craig says:

    UPDATE: August 17, 2007

    Received a password to access my savings account on ICICI’s website in the mail yesterday. I guess they figured they were causing themselves as much hassle with the ID documents (see previous posts) as they were causing me…

    Thing is, I still can’t access my funds online yet because ICICI hasn’t sent me a “Customer ID Number”. That is apparently supposed to be sent by mail as well. When you first sign up with them by internet, they assign you something called a “Temporary Reference Number” which is not the same thing. Hopefully this “Customer ID number” will be in the mail tonight.

    Why do I have a feeling that their e-commerce website is going to be a joke…

  10. Craig says:

    UPDATE: August 20, 2007

    FINALLY, I have an ICICI “HiSave” account. Yippee.

    Received ICICI’s “welcome package” by mail today, which consisted of a one-page “welcome” letter and about three pounds worth of “terms and conditions” pamphlets. The welcome letter also included the “customer ID number” needed to login to the bank’s website.

    Of course, when I used the customer ID number and password supplied by ICICI, I got a message saying “Invalid Login ID or Password”. At this point, nothing surprises me with this bank. Their login “help” page says to type in my “ten digit customer ID number”. The number given to me is only nine digits. Hmmmmm. Called ICICI customer service and explained the problem, which, in all fairness to ICICI, was fixed promptly (although no explanation was offered for the cause of the problem in the first place). I can now see my account details, which appear to be accurate, and the interest rate is actually 4.5% as it should be. My linked chequing account appears to be correct as well.

    “All’s well that ends well” I guess, although I have to say that of all the online banks I’ve dealt with, ICICI’s application process was by far the worst.

    So now I’ll shift my attention to how ICICI delivers their services. I’ll be watching for things like fund transfer time (does the bank show a negative bias towards withdrawals), excessive hold-times on incoming deposits, and whether or not ICICI drops their industry-leading 4.5% CAD savings rate down in a few months to something in the order of 4% to 4.2%. I still have a funny feeling that their current rate is really a promotional rate in disguise. I’ll bet the rate will come down if the Bank of Canada doesn’t raise the overnight rate again in September.

  11. Craig says:

    Haven’t transferred any money yet, so I can’t comment on whether ICICI’s system works. I’ll be doing that soon enough though.

    I wanted to put a quick post up here about the Bank of Canada’s pending rate decision (September 7 I believe) and ICICI’s current direct savings “rate” of 4.5%. There has been a lot of rumbling in the financial press lately that the BoC will not raise the overnight rate, mostly because of the cooling of the US housing market caused by the subprime mortgage debacle (these days, it seems like the only qualification to get a mortgage is that you have a pulse). Anyway, I posted some time ago that I felt that ICICI’s savings “rate” of 4.5% is really a promotional rate in disguise. I strongly believe that if the BoC keeps the overnight rate where it is, ICICI will shortly thereafter lower their savings “rate” down to something in line with the other online savings banks (currently between 3.75% and 4.0%, excluding introductory promotional rates).

    I suppose one could argue that there is nothing wrong with ICICI attracting new customers this way, but I think it’s highly unethical if not illegal (all the other banks lure customers with promotional rates or one-time cash payouts to sign up with them). I originally planned to deposit the cash portion of my RRSP portfolio with this bank, but I am holding off for this reason (some banks charge a fee to transfer out RRSP accounts, and they take forever to process the transaction as well, sometimes as long as a month).

  12. Craig says:

    I see from looking at ICICI Canada’s homepage that I’m not the only one who thinks their current interest rate of 4.5% is really a promotional rate. ICICI is telling people through their site that their rate is not a “promotional time offer”. I’m still not convinced. Isn’t it interesting that every other bank and credit union that offers high-yield savings acocunts offer rates that are below the Bank of Canada’s current overnight rate (4.5%)? To my knowlege, the next highest-yielding Canadian savings account is offered by Achieva Financial, an arm of a Manitoba Credit Union. Their rate is currently 4.35%. My gut feeling is that ICICI is subsidizing this current rate from other sources of revenue to try and lure as many depositors as they can. When they reach some critical mass of depositors (as determined by their bean-counters), they will yank their rate back down to something in line with the other online banks, and hope that you can’t be bothered to transfer-out all your savings when that happens. We’ll see what happens in the next several months.

    On another note, I opened an online RSP savings acocunt with ICICI, and funded it with a small amount from my existing ICICI online savings acocunt. The RSP account was successfully created in 2 days. There is a problem though. ICICI’s web interface allows me to transfer funds in to the newly-created RSP account, BUT IT DOES NOT ALLOW ME TO TRANSFER FUNDS OUT! I’m going to give them a call and find out what gives. All the other online banks allow you to electronically transfer funds out of RSP savings accounts through their website (less the statutory withholding taxes of course). If it turns out that ICICI insists that I fill out and mail a form to transfer funds out of my RSP account, I am going to be pissed. One of the reasons to have part of your RSP holdings in cash is to have liquid funds that are available in an emergency should the need arise. I don’t want to wait weeks for my money if I have an emergency and need it NOW.

  13. Craig says:

    Okay, here’s the scoop:

    I spoke with a “Customer Service Representative” at ICICI today and asked the person why I could not electronically transfer-out funds from a RSP Savings Account. The representative indicated that they “do not allow that”. Apparently, the only way you can get at your RSP funds is if you send the bank a “letter of direction” stating that you want to withdraw funds. The bank will then issue a bank draft, less the witholding taxes. The bank does not even have a form to help you with this. They make it very easy to get money in, but it’s not so easy to get it out when you need it. Granted, registered funds are supposed to be long-term investments, but if you have an emergency and you need access to your RSP funds in a hurry, your only option would be to drive to an ICICI bank branch (very few of these) and wait in line. If you live far away from major centers like Toronto where the branches are, you can forget about quick access to your cash. Other online banks (e.g. ING Direct) let you do an online transfer out of your RSP account to your other online accounts or your linked chequing accounts, and the system just deducts the appropriate witholding taxes at that time.

    I’m not yet abandoning the idea of putting RSP cash in this bank, but this is really giving me pause.

  14. Mike says:

    Craig, thanks for posting all of this. I recently opened up an ICICI Hisave account at the attractive interest rate.

    I wasn’t asked for the extra documents but my online account/password didn’t work initiatlly either.

    I did a transfer from my CIBC account to ICICI through the ICICI online banking site. The transfer appeared in my account at ICICI BUT ICICI took the transfer TWICE from my CIBC account. Ok, mistakes happen? A call to the ICICI call centre brought me to a customer service agent who I had trouble understanding and seem to just keep repeating a script to me. She just kept saying “I can help you with that today” and “Your balance is…” Even after I said, “You aren’t understanding my problem” she said “I can help you with that today”. She said no, ICICI had no taken the money from my CIBC account twice as it only shows one transfer to my ICICI account so the problem must be with CIBC. I told her I would have CIBC follow up and sure enough CIBC gave me the TWO tracking numbers of the TWO preauthorized debit requests from ICICI. I phoned ICICI bank back today and they are looking into it.

    The interest rate is just not worth it and I’ll be moving the money back to Presidents Choice and closing out ICICI. PCF is now 4.25% so that’s close enough versus the poor customer service at ICICI.

  15. Craig says:

    Hey Guys,

    Mike: As I was reading your post, I was shaking my head slowly and groaning. I see now that my experiences with ICICI are not isolated occurences! The “I can help you with that today” part of their script really is annoying, isn’t it? They end up helping you with absolutely nothing; mostly because the language barrier prevents any meaningful exchanges.

    The last part of your post is bang-on. I had actually gone so far as to fill in an ICICI application to transfer a large amount of RRSP savings funds from another bank to ICICI, and had sealed the envelope and put a stamp on it. That was two days ago. Instead of mailing the envelope, I set it aside for some sober second thought. Am I glad I did that! My thought processes were essentially the same as yours: I figured that I would be more comfortable with my money at a Canadian bank where people speak coherent english (most of the time), and that I would be willing to forego a few tenths of a percentage point on the interest rate to make that happen. I just finished opening an online RRSP Savings account at PC Financial, and I just came here now to post that fact. I considered opening one at Achieva Financial at 4.35% (a credit union in Manitoba), but they are not set up to do online RSP fund transfers between linked accounts (at least they were up-front about that, unlike ICICI), so the money would not have been readily available in an emergency. PC Financial allows online transfers of RSP funds, both in AND out. And yes, 4.25% is not bad, especially considering that they are affiliated with CIBC, the biggest nickel-and-dime-the-customer-to-death chartered bank in the country (in my opinion, don’t get me started on that…).

    Peter: Look forward to the article!

    Craig.

  16. Mike says:

    Good move Craig IMO! Now to finish my story. I called ICICI to follow up. They said they had a technical problem and the funds would be returned to my CIBC account within 24 hours. Well, not exactly true. The money has been added to my ICICI account so at least all funds are now accounted for. When I first talked to ICICI and they were not willing to investigate the problem, telling me it wasn’t their problem, and it was CIBC’s problem, I had told them if it turned out to be their problem I would be closing the account so I promptly started to move funds out of ICICI bank to CIBC and eventual move to PCF. The funds are on the standard hold period unfortunately. So I guess I learned, once again, you only get what you pay for and/or if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

    Mike

  17. BCP says:

    Hi, everyone. Just wanted to thank you for all the insightlful comments. This is a great resource!

    I have decided to NOT open up an account with ICICI given all the issues. Just doesn’t seem to be worth the effort. I am more than happy with my ING servcie which is excellent!

  18. Rocio says:

    I too had the most ridiculous experience with ICICI Canada. I received the very same email asking me to send in my cheque, after my account had been ‘temoporarily opened.’ I called in to speak with an advisor to ask where by cheque disappeared to. It was stapled to the application form. He said to call back at a later time. I asked “How much later?” He said, “call back in 2 business days.” I called back every 2 business days for 2 weeks, before my cheque was withdrawn from my account. Finally…except now, I have no way of seeing what my money in their online account looked like. I asked for my customer ID and how to set up a password. They told me to use the “Forgot Password” feature. I tried this for another 2 weeks, and got no results. Apparently, my information had not been updated yet. Really? One month after you’ve taken my information, you haven’t updated my information? Then I was told to wait 2 business days for my welcome package so I could enter in the password, which actually came in a separate package from the welcome page. That took another month to wait in the mail. After at least 15 calls to their customer service department, and an email to a manager, I received a call from a manager, who could actually speak English, and not recite everything I said 3 times over, I was finally able to log into my account. I do plan to close the account in the very near future. I also have a PC and an ING account, and what they offer is far superior that what ICICI offers.

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