Review of Philipine Banks' Customer Service and Car Loan Rates Part 1

One post that I really liked from Fitz is his article Comparing Time Deposit Rates of Philippine Banks. It offered practical information (the actual rates) and insight into which bank (or at least branch) was equipped to facilitate investment concerns.

And now, I'm excited to be able to do something equally useful, similar, but different. In this three-part article, we'll review the customer service of some Philippine banks as well as which one has the most affordable car loan rates.

Why is it useful? My perspective is that bank rates are somewhat predictable. The bank paying the highest interest on savings accounts will most likely give one of the highest - if not the highest - interest on Time Deposits and high-yield savings accounts. And I believe the same holds true for interest on bank loans. Plus, who wants to deal with lackluster customer service? (Admittedly, I'm only reviewing one branch per bank, but it can still be indicative if the banks process is at fault and not simply the bank representative.)

I will review 4 banks in part 1, 5 banks in part 2, and in part 3 I will disclose their car loan rates and we'll find out which one charges the lowest interest on loans.

First, who am I as a customer? I approached them and simply stated I wanted to inquire about their car loan rates. Follow up questions from them would reveal I was thinking of buying a modest car worth a little over 700K, and that it would be my first car loan.  (In a future post I will reconcile my asking about car loans and my previous position of not owning a car)

What is the criteria I will use and why?
  • Waiting Time: Honestly, it's not a big factor, but since all my visits were around lunch time - a high-traffic period for banks - it might be a good omen for how efficient the bank is. So I'm including it here, even though it will have no impact in my final review.
  • Equipped with basic knowledge: The bank representative must be able to answer my questions. After all, if they can't then why are they there?
  • Equipped with necessary tools: No person can realistically be expected to know the answer to every question. But bank representatives must have the necessary tools to respond to inquiries. They must have access to financial calculators and templates, the latest rates, and anything else that can help a customer.
  • Customer-oriented: Must be professional, friendly, attentive to needs, helpful, etc.
  • Readiness: Are they able to capitalize on inquiries by handing out leaflets/pamphlets, print outs, or any other helpful materials to encourage the customer to avail of their products.

Arranged in chronological order of when I visited them, my review of some Philippine banks' customer service:

(Ayala Branch)
  • Waiting Time: None
  • Equipped with Basic Knowledge: Yes, she was able to answer all my questions without dialing the phone or getting another bank personnel's help.
  • Equipped with necessary tools: Yes, she was able to give me the quote and all the necessary info was available thru her computer.
  • Customer-oriented: Yes, she was courteous and professional.
  • Readiness: She was able to give me a print out of the quote I was asking about. And she gave me an application form also.

Final Verdict: Good service from BDO

East West
(Ayala Branch)
  • Waiting Time: Slight wait -a few minutes.
  • Equipped with Basic Knowledge: Very Big Yes. I got educated on all the things I needed to know - Chattel mortgage, the car insurance, Toyota has high resale value, that there's two options: One month advance and in arrears (and how they work).
  • Equipped with necessary tools: Yes. She was able to get all the info she needed to address my concerns.
  • Customer-oriented: Very Big Yes. She was very friendly and volunteered great info.
  • Readiness: Big Yes. I got a print-out of my quote, her business card, and even leaflets of their other products.

Final Verdict: The best customer service by far! I even got offered coffee (I declined). If all bank rates were equal, there would be no reason for a customer to loan or deposit in any other bank. The customer service was just excellent. Maybe I just caught her on a good day, maybe she had more experience or was more inspired than the other bank reps I faced. Regardless, great service deserves the proper credit.

(Ayala Branch)
  • Waiting Time: None
  • Equipped with Basic Knowledge: Big Yes. He knew everything and even volunteered info like Metrobank has the same owner (George Ty) as some Toyota dealers, that they can be the one to reserve a car for me (but dealers require a 5000 peso reservation fee), and that a dealership can give me a 10K discount.
  • Equipped with necessary tools: Big yes, he had all the necessary loan calculators and rates handy. He even showed me on his screen how it's computed.
  • Customer-oriented: Yes. He was a serious looking dude, but he was very helpful.
  • Readiness: Big Yes; He gave me print outs of quotes, even a sample amortization schedule (showing the breakdown of payments and interest, and the reduction of principal over time).

Final Verdict: Very Good Service from Metrobank.

(Enterprise Branch - Ayala cor. Paseo de Roxas)
  • Waiting Time: Slight - a few minutes.
  • Equipped with Basic Knowledge: Qualified yes. I've been to this bank several times and got good service. But on this occasion she didn't seem to know the answers, but the bank rep beside her (who was busy attending to a customer) gave ample and timely help as needed.
  • Equipped with necessary tools: No. Got me the cumulative rate but no other info like chattel mortgage, monthly payment, etc.
  • Customer-oriented: Yes. She was friendly and attentive.
  • Readiness: None. I got the rate on a scratch paper. No print outs, leaflet, quotes, no nothing. Apparently I have to go through the approval process first to get any useful info.

Final Verdict: Practically useless. But it wasn't her fault. The process seems to be too bureaucratic. Having to go through the approval process first to get any useful info is bad for business, in my opinion. I had already gotten a highly competitive quote from MetroBank and I was hoping to compare it with BPI. Disappointing.

Watch out next week for part 2, where I review BPI Family Bank, PS Bank, Security Bank, RCBC, and China Bank Savings.

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