The South Korean financial watchdog on Thursday took "name and shame" measures on local banks and financial institutions rated as having poor customer service, forcing them to display hard-to-miss posters at their entrances.
The Financial Supervisory Service last month announced the results of a customer complaint report on 85 local financial institutions, rating the quality of their customer service in five levels, ranging from excellent to poor.
Seventeen of the institutions, including banks, savings banks, insurance firms, credit card firms and securities firms, received the lowest grade of poor. Kookmin Bank, Nonghyup, Standard Chartered Bank Korea, Lotte Card Co., Shinhan Card Co., Allianz Life Insurance Co. and Dongbu Securities Co. were among the 17.
Starting Thursday, these institutions will be required to hang big-letter posters that read "POOR" in red at the entrances of all their offices and branches across the nation and on their websites.
Kookmin Bank, the biggest lender by asset, has some 1,130 offices nationwide, while Nonghyup Bank, a banking unit of state-run agricultural cooperatives, runs 1,187 branches.
The subjected companies strongly resisted the watchdog's "name and shame" penalty, arguing that the red poster will tarnish their reputation and customer confidence.
"The FSS did not give us a grace period to deal with such punishment," said an official from one of the penalized financial institutions, asking not to be named. "The FSS action virtually means we should shut down."
The FSS, however, said that the institutions deserve to be penalized as they have not made efforts to improve their customer service.
"We know banks and securities firms are complaining about the penalty as they are frequented by customers," said an FSS official.
"But we decided to implement the name and shame policy in order to prevent recurrences. Those who receive the lowest level should be disgraced in public." (Yonhap)