June 20, 2008 - I went to my bank today and witnessed another example of local employees gaming the system their employer imposed. This scam is more innocuous than many - it does not involve outright theft (although it probably is indirect theft). The bank at issue is one of the largest foreign banks operating in China. Unlike most domestic banks, it makes a sincere effort to deliver strong retail customer service. Unfortunately, this effort is the cause and object of the employee scam.
When I visited the branch three weeks earlier for a routine transaction, there was no line at all. My business took less than three minutes in the branch to transact. At the end, the teller asked me to fill out a quick customer satisfaction survey in return for a small gift. I agreed. My answers to the three (irrelevant to the story) questions were: Satisfied, satisfied, and satisfied. At the end, the teller gave me a small attractive box with either tea or potpurri in it (I'm still unsure).
I have been to the same branch two times between then and today. Each time, I had a short wait. Today though, the counter was again clear. My business again was simple and quick. At the end, the teller asked me to fill out the same survey in exchange for the same gift. I agreed.
As I was again answering: Satisfied, satisfied, and satisfied, I saw the scam. I would bet that the bank has implemented an incentive system for good customer service results. It is well-intended, but it probably took each of their local employees no more than point five seconds to figure out how to game the incentive system.