Clients express dismay at PNB’s annual service charges

Druk PBN Bank Ltd Head office in Thimphu

SANGAY RABTEN | Thimphu

Clients of Druk Punjab National Bank Limited (DPNBL) are voicing out their resentments on the bank’s annual service deduction charges.

Many frustrated clients said that the deduction of Nu 150 on two occasions as a service deduction charge is not justifiable and way too exorbitant. 

On 28 and 31 March, Druk PNB had debited Nu 150 from their customers’ individual bank accounts as yearly account maintenance charges for the years 2020 and 2021.

According to the notification issued on 31 March by the bank, the yearly account maintenance charges for the year 2019 were charged in November 2020.

However, clients are complaining that the bank is unnecessarily jacking up the fees, and at a time when most are already bogged down financially by the pandemic.

Sonam Phuentsho from Babesa Thimphu said there is no clear information from the bank officials for the deduction. “Taking Nu 300 from us in the pandemic time is too much, exorbitant, and totally unfair,” he said.

Sonam further said that the kind of maintenance is the bank doing is also not clear or justified.

Sangay Lhamo from Changzamtok, Thimphu said, “Deducting twice in the month of March is unfair for the common people like us.” She said that such banking instances are becoming common in the country and they need to be addressed.

Sonam Tobden also from Thimphu shared a similar concern. He said that there is no clear information about the deduction and it is difficult to understand the message sent by the bank.

“They should detail reasons and also let clients know the reason behind such a move which has not bided well with their clients.

Another frustrated client, Tashi T Wangdi, said that the bank is looting the public through such unfair practices. He said the banking policies in the country, with low deposit rates and high loan interests, are also not customer-friendly.

Similarly, Tshokyi from Gelephu said that the bank keeps deducting money repeatedly which at times confuses customers. “I am disappointed with PNB and I can’t get an explanation as to why they are taking the money so decided to close the account,” she said.

Further, a lot of people were also surprised to receive banking messages though they do not have accounts with the bank.

Phub Tshering from Chukha said that many of his friends around his circle were surprised to receive Druk PNB Ltd banking SMS despite they do not have an account.  

Meanwhile, the bank reiterated that the charges are normal and were made nominal after careful consideration and that other options are available to customers. 

Speaking to Bhutan Times, the Chief Executive Officer of DPNBL Sumesh Kumar said that the account maintenance charges are not new. He said that every bank charges maintenance fees and Druk PNB Ltd charging Nu 150 is not high which amounts to only about Nu 10 a month.

“I appeal to all our valued customers to bear with the bank. We invest charges in many online services and maintain about 80 ATM points in the country,” he said.

Clarifying the SMS alerts on non-account holders, he said that the customers have not updated their mobile numbers and the messages went to all the registered numbers.

The bank had also issued a notification that due to technical glitches, SMS informing the debit of Nu150 is wrongly pushed to all the Bhutan Telecom Ltd registered mobile users which are actually meant for Druk PNB Bank account holders only. It has also asked the public to kindly ignore the SMS if one is not an account holder with the bank.

The yearly account maintenance charges are deducted only from the saving account holders. There are about 60,000 saving bank account holders with Druk PNB Ltd in the country.

DPNBL incorporated in Bhutan is a Joint Venture Bank with a 51 percent shareholding by Punjab National Bank, a leading public sector Bank in India.

The Durk PNB Bank is the first FDI bank in Bhutan. The total capital of the bank is Nu 300 million. Out of which 51 percent share is of Punjab National Bank, 19 percent Bhutanese promoters and 30 percent initial share has already been floated to the public of Bhutan