While I am overall a great fan of HDFC Bank and their great promotions offering me a crazy number of miles via their promotions, there are some parts of their machinery that are not fully baked, and they can really come to bite them sometimes. I’ve always believed that customer service needs to be a pivot of any business, and credit cards dealing with busy customers need to take away the friction as much as possible from their lives.
Many moons ago, HDFC Bank started to offer 10X points on travel services. Some months it would be GoIbibo/ClearTrip, others it would be MakeMyTrip and so on. Till they created their own white-labelled portal last year called Smartbuy and started to push that portal. The Smartbuy portal is the only way to get 10X rewards on booking flights with HDFC Bank at the moment. So, naturally, I use it a lot every month.
However, I wanted to highlight the bad customer service you can run into sometimes with them. This friction in their process needs to go away, but till the time, it hurts customers such as me a lot.
Back in February, Shipra and myself planned a trip to her home, and we booked tickets for a flight back to Delhi accordingly using HDFC Smartbuy. The tickets were booked by Yatra in the backend. Each ticket cost roughly INR 8.2K, so we paid a total of INR 24.4K after applying the INR 200 discount HDFC Bank gives for buying via Smartbuy.
My brother-in-law who was supposed to join us, could not make it for the trip. So, we cancelled his ticket early in March. The cancellation advice that came on the phone, and later in email, never spoke about doing anything else, so I forgot about it. The amount to be sent back to me was a whole sum of INR 5245, so not a couple of hundreds which were not worth chasing up.
Except that the money never came back to my account. So, I called HDFC Bank later in April, who registered a complaint, as a dispute, and started asking me for documents to prove I took the flight. Err.
Eventually, I had to call Yatra, HDFC and everyone in between over and over to make them realise that they were all pointing fingers at each other but no one was refunding me the money.
I don’t know how, in April, one and a half month after the cancellation and multiple followups, the amount came into my account, but it was not the complete amount. I received a shade less than INR 4000 into my account, so I was INR 1245 short as compared to the original amount.
I went over the maths again, and Yatra had levied their own cancellation charges and reversed a discount of INR 200 they had auto applied on the post. Even then, I was supposed to get INR 4645 back and not INR 3950 or whatever the amount was. I took to Social Media, which essentially got me another couple of 100 rupees back.
So, for a ticket that was cancelled in March, by May, I was still not made whole. That is when I started reading the T&C of the cancellation by HDFC Bank. They stated that Smartbuy skims off 2% of the ticket prices to process a refund.
Except, their interpretation was, that they skim off 2% of the entire amount not just the value of the ticket cancelled. So, for doing nothing, HDFC Bank retained approximately INR 500, while all I owed them was INR 162.
I was determined to get to the bottom of this, and HDFC held their fort till I eventually had to write to the grievance department of the Bank, something I should have done long ago, and they got the rest of the amount reversed.
Timeline for this whole thing to be put behind me, 3 months. Compensation for lost time, 0.
Booking via HDFC Bank Smartbuy has its perks, but it also has its own pitfalls. I’ve been in a soup with them a couple of times in the past, but this time was the longest time they’ve gone on with their sluggish attitude on a case that went totally out of hand!
Have you experienced something similar with HDFC Bank Smartbuy? How were your issues resolved?