Wednesday, October 06, 2004

oh my god, DBS.

my world is falling apart: Citibank Hong Kong can't get its shit together and keep my account updated; and now DBS Hong Kong does something as monumentally stupid as this. what is the world coming to? (an end, apparently.)

OCT 6, 2004
Safe deposit boxes destroyed by mistake

By Bryan Lee

DBS Bank is facing angry customers at one of its Hong Kong branches after a contractor mistakenly removed 83 rented safe deposit boxes containing cash and jewellery, among other items, and dumped them at a scrapyard.

The blunder occurred during renovation work last Saturday at the bank's branch in Mei Foo, Kowloon, a middle-class neighbourhood.

DBS staff have since salvaged some valuables and other personal effects.

DBS spokesman Catherine Ong said: 'I will be lying if I tell you we don't have upset customers. We have and we are doing all we can to help them. For many, the loss will be an emotional one rather than financial. But we recognise that this is no less important.'

The error could also prove costly. The bank said yesterday that it would 'honour its ultimate responsibilities' to the 83 affected customers.

It has already drawn sharp words from the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), which said it 'is taking a very serious view of this matter'. 'The HKMA expects the bank to take prompt and appropriate remedial actions to compensate the customers,' said its spokesman.

DBS has blamed the fiasco on human error. The removal occurred after 1pm when the branch was closed for the day.

Kumihara, a Japanese firm specialising in safe deposit box installation and removal, was engaged to remove 800 empty small safe deposit boxes, which were to be replaced by more popular bigger boxes. Although these had been marked out and listed, 120 extra boxes were somehow removed as well. Of the 120, 83 had been rented out.

All this happened under the supervision of DBS staff, the bank said.

When the mistake was discovered the next day, the bank sent staff to the scrapyard where the old boxes had been crushed to try to salvage the contents. So far, it has recovered some cash, jewellery and personal documents.

'We will review every claim on a case-by-case basis. Everyone with a legitimate claim will be properly compensated,' Ms Ong said.

However, she was unable to estimate likely total compensation. Affected customers will need to list all the items in their boxes first. So far, it has contacted 50 of them.

Verification of claims, however, will be tough and may result in legal wrangling as renters do not have to declare to banks what they store in the metal boxes when they rent them.

The bank has notified its insurers and is working closely with them, she said.

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