'Honest People Bank with UBA' Says Patience Akpan, a Delighted Customer

Patience Akpan, an Associate Professor of Science, Technology and Society (STS) at Arizona State University and a Columnist in Punch Newspaper, a foremost national newspaper in Nigeria, writes about the excellent customer service delivered to her at  one of our Business Offices in Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria. Below is the full text of her write-up, published in Punch on Saturday, July 20, 2013.

Loss or theft of cell phones is common place in Nigeria. A whine about it elicits a major yawn. I cut a pathetic figure four years ago when I went crazy over a phone that was stolen at the Le Meridien in Uyo. It was not so much the loss of the device, or the loss of phone numbers or the fact that there was personal information which I would not have wanted a stranger to access. What bothered me the most was that someone perceived me as a powerless victim, enough to rob.

My lunch companions were sympathetic, though I could not tell if they were stifling yawns. They had lost cell phones many times in the past and could not understand why I was making a federal case of my loss – first-ever phone loss experience.

And so when I realized on Tuesday that I had left my brand new phone at a counter at a UBA branch on Calabar Road, Calabar, I decided to chill (like ice water). I was so calm that my nine-year-old companion did not believe that I had really lost my phone. “You are too calm,” he said. The driver of our vehicle called my phone to eliminate the possibility that it was in the car. When we did not hear the sound of the phone, the boy suggested I must have left it on mute. He was still unconvinced that I would be this calm if I really lost my newest toy.

Some 30 minutes after we left, we returned to the bank. I did not think the phone would still be there. I just wanted the satisfaction of knowing that I looked for it. As I approached the Quick Teller section on the first floor where I had gone to pay for my airline ticket to Lagos, I saw one of the staff and she said, “You are back.” I told her that I was looking for my phone. “Oh Oh!” she said in a tone that suggested I should not even think I would find it again. But as she said this, she glanced around reflexively.  “May be it is that one,” she said pointing in the direction of the counter where I had done my transaction. It was, indeed, the one!

And a marvel it was that a brand new Blackberry phone sat unattended on a bank counter for at least 30 minutes and no one had the brilliant idea of stealing it. That is what I call a miracle! When I left earlier, three people (two men and a woman) were waiting to be served by the guy behind the counter, Mr. Valentine Nwankwo. When I went back, the two men had been replaced by two other men. The woman was still the same. She could have picked the phone but she did not. Any of the four men could have picked the phone but they did not. Any of the other bankers that moved in and out of the area could have picked the phone, but they did not.

UBA once proudly claimed that “wise men bank with UBA.” Then the goddesses gave them Chief Bola Kuforji-Olubi as their chairperson, and so they inserted: “and women too.” We can now add another insertion point: “and honest too.” And of course if this new insertion shows up on billboards, the bank will definitely get a bill from me!

I write this because I think a shout-out is in order for all those fine people who work in the Quick Teller section of UBA Branch #2 (or is that #1) on Calabar Road, Calabar. A louder shout-out goes to the customers who saw my phone but minded their own business. May the angels watch over your own phone, not that angel have nothing better to do, mind you!
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