Does BDO belong in the Philippines’ Top Ten Banks List? That’s a question I asked myself repeatedly this past Friday as I inquired on a transfer of funds we have been waiting on since late November. Our local SM Shopping Mall, where our Banco de Oro branch is located, was filled to the gills with Filipinos fishing for last minute Christmas bargains. I like Christmas but I hate the crowds it brings. Yes, even in the Philippines, which is over 80% Catholic and virtually shuts down on Christmas week for Baby Jesus’ birthday, is becoming increasingly commercialized. More and more people are buying gifts, much to the delight of SM and all other merchants, and potbellied Santa’s litter the landscape everywhere you go.
When my asawa and I arrived at our local BDO branch at 9 am, I had no idea that this visit would turn into a day long event.
An extremely helpful teller, with the assistance of a junior manager, informed me that the head cashier was trying to contact the individual (in another office) that would be doing the actual dollar to peso transfer. After waiting nearly a month for our money, I thought the process would only take an hour or two, but of course, as usual, I was mistaken.
After our teller, the junior manager and cashier got together, the cashier informed me that the person she was trying to reach was not available so in order for us to not waste our time waiting, she would contact my wife via cell phone when everything was ready. I was OK with that. After all, as I mentioned, we had already been waiting a month.
My spouse and I headed over to Shakey’s Pizza. Now Shakey’s is not my favorite pizza joint in the Philippines but it is light years ahead of what is available on our island province home of Guimaras, Pit Stop, the home of overpriced, under cooked pizza dough.
After our early lunch, I checked out the travel agency to inquire about a return trip to Las Vegas in January or February while my wife headed for the 2nd floor of the SM Department Store to finish her Christmas shopping.
Two hours went by. No message from BDO. My wife was still shopping so I headed for the bank and sat in front of the teller that was helping us. I have no problem making people uncomfortable when I need to, in fact, I excel at it. Ask my asawa.
The cashier came over to me. Apprised me that the transfer would be done once they received a fax from the department authorizing it but the fax was not expected to come over until later that afternoon. It was now 11:30 pm. I thanked her and returned to the spot where my wife had left me. She was still shopping. Hope that transfer goes through fast; we’re going to need it at this rate.
So I waited. And waited some more. Hours passed. I felt I was in my own private hell, much like Rocky Valentine in the Twilight Zone classic episode, “A Nice Place to Visit.”
My wife could not stand idly by and watch Christmas shoppers, so she went out on another expedition while my limited patience had finally reached its limit. I ventured out to BDO one more time. It was around 3:15 pm and my wife had still not heard from the cashier.
I walked in. Sat down in front of the junior manager that had been assisting us.
“Still waiting,” I said, master of the understatement.
She smiled and nodded and continued to help the Filipino couple ahead of me. 15 minutes passed. The cashier aiding us walked by and announced to me that the fax had arrived. I felt like it was The Second Coming of Christ.
“Just a little while, sir,” the junior manager informed me. Uh, oh, Jesus’ return had been put on hold.
Ahhh, the magic phrase “just a little while.” Words you never want to hear in the Philippines as “just a little while” can translate into hours or even days and weeks.
By now my spouse, who had finally tired of shopping (for the moment) had joined me. I clued her in on the latest update. Amazingly, she, too, had reached the end of her patience.
15 more minutes pass but miraculously, with only a few strokes of the pen on a withdrawal slip to transfer our now available dollars to our peso account, the deed is done. Joy spreads throughout Whoville! Angels are trumpeting their horns! All is right with the world again.
Photo Source: BDO website
So that begs the question, after our long wait, does BDO really belong in the Philippines’s Top Ten Banks List? PhilPad.com claims that Banco de Oro is Number One in Assets, Deposits, Loans and Capital. The report does not list which bank in the Philippines is Number One in Customer Service. I found a dated article from 2004 that listed BPI as a customer service favorite, and I would probably be safe to assume that some of my readers, Rease, for example, would agree with that assessment.
In terms of friendliness and trying to help, the tellers at our local BDO branch in Iloilo excel. I have never met any teller or supervisor there that was not cordial and helpful. Perhaps it my winning charm and good looks, but I doubt it, being a crusty old expat, and all. So, yeah, it’s Christmastime, I’m in a benevolent mood, BDO does belong in the Philippines’ Top Ten Bank List.
And herein lies the rub. After the transaction is finally completed the cashier informs me that if our Peso Account was opened at their location and not another branch, future fund transfers would go much smoother and quicker. Our Dollar Account was opened at this SM Mall in Iloilo but our Peso Account, opened two years ago, was opened at another BDO location in Iloilo City. They had been waiting all day for the fax from the branch where our Peso Account was established.
Note to self: Expect the unexpected in the Philippines and be prepared to be confused, frustrated and exasperated occasionally. When that happens, pour yourself a cold adult beverage, and consume it with friends. It can’t hurt.