The World’s Local Bank

When my ATM card was declined by ATMs of 3 different banks yesterday, I hoped it was a glitch with my bank or a faulty magnetic strip.  I even wouldn’t have been too bothered if it were DH sending me a clear message about my spending habits using our joint account!  So, first thing this morning, I tried again, and once again, my account was described as ‘not recognised by the bank’s financial database’.  I felt quite offended at that wording; hurt almost.  I do think there are more polite ways of communicating the fact I need to contact my bank to enquire why my card is not working!

I dread dealing with banks in any country, but apparently non-local banks in Dubai are notoriously poor at customer relations, preferring to agitate their customers rather than effectively and efficiently manage their banking requirements!  I just wish my turn to discover the truth in this belief had never come.

Call 1 – The first message politely asked me to wait whilst my phone number was verified.  As I was calling from my office, and the bank only has my mobile number, I hung up and called from my mobile.

Call 2 – After jumping through at least 3 automatic numeric hurdles, I got to speak to a human voice.  I explained my situation, and the customer care rep confirmed my card had been discontinued.  Full stop.  Pause.  No explanation.  The fact the bank discontinued my card was now being communicated to me in a manner that suggested I should not be surprised!  Oh yes, I am in Dubai, where one must, more often than not, adopt the ‘blood from a stone approach’.

On enquiring further as to the reason for the discontinuation, it appears the bank decided to re-issue new debit cards to all its customers.  Customers received notification letters to this effect, and new debit cards were issued. Errrmmm…..not all customers received this update (I wasn’t the only one – when I was wandering, confused among the ATMs that rejected my card yesterday, I got talking to another customer from the same bank as mine…..her card had also been declined!).  In order to get a new card, I was advised to register with phone banking.  I didn’t want to register with phone banking.  I just wanted a new ATM card; a battle I was not going to win.  Assuming the letter and new card were delievered to the wrong address, I enquired as to the address held on the bank’s records.  I was refused that information until such time as I registered with phone banking.   Click.

Call 3 – I attempted to register with phone banking.  Apparently all I needed to do was input a 6 digit code.  I tried, but nothing.  I was forced to connect to a ‘human’.  Generally, I am very keen to speak to humans in situations like this, but I was getting cranky at what appeared to be an unncessarily convoluted process, and feared the automaton might be making more sense!  The ‘human’ on the other end of the line insisted on grilling me again, and asking all the security questions I had already answered to get to this point!!!  He asked me if I was sure about the mobile number I had provided.  Since I have been in Dubai, I have only had one mobile number….so yes, I was sure.  Besides, I couldn’t get to this stage of the process with an incorrect mobile unless the bank’s verification process was flawed (unthinkable!).  He continued to ask me questions about the account which I could hardly answer!  DH is the primary account holder and he does all the finances (I never thought I would become one of those women, but I am too busy working, being a Mum, a class rep and combing nits out of my kids’ hair in my spare time, that finances are the last thing I want to have to deal with!).  This chap even had the audacity to ask if I had any other bank accounts.  Suspecting this was not something my DH would divulge to a bank, I declined to answer……and I still passed the security test.  I was summarily transferred to create my phone banking account.

Call 4 – Creating the phone banking account seemed to go smoothly.  It will be amazing if I can remember the code…..too many pins and passwords these days!

Call 5 – Once I had registered for phone banking, I was instructed to call the bank to order my new card…..note: by this stage I was slowly losing the will to live.  However, I was near the finish line.  I could order my new card and ensure the address details were correct.  Needless to say, the reason I found myself in this position is that the bank in question did not action the ‘change of address’ request sent through by DH 3+ years ago.  Given the mess that was, I thought it imperative to provide the new address.  The customer service rep seemed confused by my logic.  However, I persisted and offered the updated PO Box number.  This 6 digit number seem to take the customer service rep about 5 minutes to comprehend.  I repeated it sooooo many times, I was beginning to question myself.  You know when you hear something so often, it begins to ring untrue/idiotic????  Apparently, as far as the customer service rep was concerned, that was all that was required.  The rest of the address was not necessary.  Again, given the mess that led me to this day, I insisted on the rep taking down the entire address.  Well, that’s 20 minutes of my life I’ll never get back; and all for 3 short lines of an address, spelling each word in Alpha, Beta, Charlie..blah, blah, blah.  At one point when the rep repeated the address back and got it wrong again, he blamed it on me…..telling me (not even implying!) that I gave him the incorrect address…….sigh.

5 working days and my new card will be delivered.  My work roommate laughed and said ‘BTW, that means January 25th!’

All I can say is, thank goodness we have other bank accounts and I can get cash from there.  Where would one be if one didn’t?

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