(Editor’s note: This post about Utrecht-based Rabobank is intended to educate expats because we have to open a Dutch bank account as part of the immigration process. However, our experience was on the business-banking side, not on the consumer side.)
Since we founded Dispatches Media back in 2015, we’ve posted a lot about the crazy experiences we’ve had because we want to warn other expats so they don’t go through what we did. Also, we have a big reach and can hold companies accountable. There was the Airbnb ripoff. There was the airline that refused to reimburse us for the late flight. There was the Apple-authorized chain that ripped off my husband. Oh, and the telemarketers who want you to change energy providers.
But until now, we’ve never had a customer experience this surreally bad.
We recently changed Dispatches Europe from a general partnership to a B.V., the Dutch version of a limited liability company. We knew Rabobank, where we have our business account, needed to know about the business change, so the same day we got the new articles of association, I called Rabobank to see what we needed to do. Did we have to close the current account and open a new one or could we provide the Chamber of Commerce (Kamer van Koophandel) our documents to update the business entity change?
‘Call ya right back’ … JK
I called Rabobank in the afternoon of 15 August and spoke to a friendly guy who assured me we didn’t have to close the account just to reopen it with a new business name. What a relief! He said he would have a colleague call me and tell me which documents they needed.
Four weeks went by.
I called the same number I called before at 4 p.m., two hours before the end of business hours. A person didn’t answer, but there was a message to leave your question and number, so I did. Except I only had a few seconds and was cut off.
I called again and left the information. When I didn’t get a call back, I went to live chat to ask about talking with someone in business banking and that resulted in another back-and-forth with a live chat agent who didn’t understand what I wanted. The agent said it was not busy and that if I called right then, someone would talk to me.
I called again.
Left the message again.
No one called again.
I went back to live chat and told the agent I left a message. She could no longer help me because I was on the general live chat. She told me could not verify my identification. So I called the number again, said the message was specifically for the woman with whom I was chatting, and left my number.
Back to live chat … and she told me if I logged into my online account and accessed live chat there, she could verify my identification and address my issue. So, I got online, logged in, brought up live chat. And all I kept getting was, “what is your question.” After several more attempts and explanations, I left live chat.
It’s not us … it’s you
I never got a call back.
I never got my question answered on live chat. I never heard from the first guy or his colleague. And I had blown through another hour and a half of my day.
In supreme frustration, I posted my account on LinkedIn. There are a LOT of people who feel my pain. As of this writing, it’s gotten 41,500 views.
There were a lot of comments on my post. Several people from Rabobank told me all I had to do was call the customer service number. It’s like they didn’t read my post or understand my frustration AT ALL. I DID call the number, at least eight times, after waiting for a return call for three weeks.
Here’s my LinkedIn post
I’ve seen a lot of poor customer service in my day, but today I experienced the worst.
I talked to a business banking account person three weeks ago who assured me he would return my call when I asked what I needed to do to submit new documents for my business account.
Today when I called the customer service number, no one answered. Literally, Rabobank wasn’t at home. The main customer service number goes immediately to voice mail.
The voice mail message only allows about 7 seconds to leave your message. I’m a fast talker but I couldn’t put all the details in the message. So I called six or seven times hoping to speak with someone.
I know! Live chat!
Except no one could answer my question there either. The agent KEPT ASKING the same question: What is your question?
Let’s just say I’m a wealthy American arriving in Eindhoven and I need to open a business account for a large company. Hundreds of thousands of euros will flow through this account. But Rabobank isn’t home. And their business banking agents can’t return a call. And their online customer service agents can’t answer a question.
What’s a businessperson to do?
We do bring an American bias to the issue. Banks in the United States are responsive to business needs because they want to maintain a long-term relationship. In banking, deposits are booked as current liabilities. Assets are the interest-generating loans and lines of credit banks provide as clients’s operations grow. That’s where the profits are. We’ve long had long and personal relationships with our American bankers and we have bankers as our personal friends.
If Rabobank tried to break into the U.S. market with this approach, they’d fail in record time.
At last, Boryana Inkova in retail banking at Rabobank left a comment with her direct number and suggested I call her the following day, which I did. After explaining my situation all over again and saying I only wanted to jump through the hoops Rabobank requires to change a business name on an established account, Boryana paused for several seconds. “Well, that doesn’t sound that complicated to me.” Indeed. It is not.
I’ll point out that Boryana is in retail banking, but she is the only Rabobank person who offered to help me other than tell me to call the main number. I just hope her colleague responds quickly so I can put this matter to rest.
Boryana promised to contact a business banking colleague to contact me with the information I need.
UPDATE: On Friday, 9 September, I spoke with Boryana Inkova.
So, back to my original question: “What’s a businessperson to do?”
I was relieved when I thought we didn’t have to close our account and open a new one. We run a business and I don’t have time to deal with closing the account, transferring money, watching for the last transactions, giving account access to the accountant … those kinds of tasks kill my soul.
Now we’re at a crossroads.
We’re trying to avoid the bureaucratic goat rope we anticipate should we try to transfer our accounts to another bank. Because if Rabobank can’t answer a question, or respond to a client, imagine what it’s going to be like trying to shift our account to another bank. It’s rewarding bad behavior.
Or do we open a new bank account?
If you’re an expat business owner in the Netherlands and have a great relationship with a Dutch bank, we’d like to hear about it.
And yes, we’re going to give you our direct business email address – [email protected] – and our Dutch phone number: 06-87-54-15-45