It took 64 days of non-stop tweeting, but Karthik Srinivasan’s online Satyagraha finally appears to be working.
HDFC Bank has just sent out an email clarifying its policy in which it had been signing up users to a online loyalty program without their knowledge. Titled “IMPORTANT UPDATE: Benefits, Charges and Opt Out Option Of HDFC Bank Preferred Banking Program,” the email talks in detail about HDFC’s opt-in policy. “As communicated earlier, we charge a nominal fee of Rs. 100 per quarter per Customer ID for Savings and Current Account holders,” the email says in a large blue font.
— Anupam Gupta (@b50) April 5, 2017
This is a departure from HDFC’s earlier email, which had information about the charges of the policy hidden at the bottom at the bottom. That email had prompted Karthik Srinivasan, a Bangalore-based Digital Marketer, to launch an online Satyagraha of sorts against the bank. Srinivasan had tried to apprise HDFC of how its charges were unethical because they signed up a user for the scheme without their consent, but the bank had refused to change its policies. Srinivasan had then embarked on an indefinite tweetathon, in which he’d resolved to tweet about the “issue every single day till the end of 2017.”
Srinivasan had stuck to his word, and even reached out to HDFC’s board of directors, and the banking ombudsman. On the 50th day of his campaign, OfficeChai had carried out an article on his unique protest which had gone viral, and subsequently been picked up by other media outlets. People had spoken out in large numbers as to how they too had received the emails, and shown their support with tweets and retweets.
The pressure seems to have worked. HDFC has finally sent out an email which explains its charges in detail, and gives users an option to opt out. But the current situation isn’t ideal – HDFC is still signing up users without their consent. This is apparently legal under Indian regulations, but doesn’t seem completely ethical. “Could you please avoid opt-out and choose the ethical opt-in?,” Srinivasan tweeted today.
But the new email is certainly progress. For the longest time, HDFC had refused to acknowledge that anything was wrong with its communication; the new email is proof that it’s realized that there was. Just goes to show how a large group of people, persistently but calmly stating their point, can affect real change.