Taken from Craig’s comments on this post
August 3, 2007
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.
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).
August 8, 2007
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 they couldn’t read the fax. The originals are high-quality photocopies. The 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…
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…
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…
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.
August 28, 2007
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).
September 21, 2007
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 account 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.
September 24, 2007
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.
September 27, 2007
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! 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…).
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