Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Banks!

They serve a useful purpose. We sometimes get loans from them, they extend credit... well, that's about all they do which has any benefit to the customer. They're useless for saving money because of the near zero interest rates. (If only their credit card interest rates were near zero, or even near 25% like they used to be in the good ole days). They accept our salary transfers, which is clearly much more a benefit for them than for us. Unfortunately, in the UAE we are required by the government to have our salaries paid into a bank account. We simply have no choice in this.

The problem with banks is that they continually scheme at trying to "steal" as much of their customer's money as possible. Their longest running and most successful scheme to date is charging huge fees for useless services--like issuing some useless piece of paper which some other bank says they need to have. (They are all in this together!) The other main types of fee are their huge penalties for late payments, overdrafts, etc.

What I have noticed over the past year or so is their latest scheme of forcing the customer to wait for a call back from them whenever the customer requests an action--like, again, requesting one of the aforementioned pieces of paper, requesting any change in one's account, requesting action over a dispute, closing an account, etc. The way the scheme works is the customer requests something by telephone, which by the way is the only way you are allowed to interact with them (an integral part of this cunning scheme). The call center agent, then, informs the customer that he/she must wait 4, 5, 6 or whatever number of BUSINESS DAYS for a call back.

Now, unless you're willing to put taking that call above anything else going on in your life, especially not having a clue when it will come, you will most likely miss that critical call back. When all is said and done that 4, 5 or 6 BUSINESS DAYS is likely to stretch out to 2 or 3 weeks. By then, so much time will have passed that you either forget your original request or just figure to hell with it. At the same time, you will still have likely got charged whatever fee that request entailed. In the end, the bank gets more of your fee money, while the gripe you originally had--most likely related to some ridiculous fees--goes unresolved. The bank wins again.

So, the latest, I'd say, post 2014 bank strategy is the "wait for the call back." It's just one more scheme, one more trick which costs their hapless customers hundreds, thousands of whatever currency they happen to be using.

Go banks... God how I hate them! Where, oh where is Elizabeth Warren when you need her? Oh, that's right, she's in the United States, not the United Arab Emirates, and unfortunately she decided not to run for president... but I digress.

And a shout out to all the bank employees and their call center cohorts. We, the customer, get angry with you, sometimes shout at you and are truly at our wits end when dealing with you. But, of course, you are not to blame. In all likelihood you suffer as badly as we do and probably even worse, as I doubt that banks make good employers. But for the bankers, or shall I say BANKERS--those with the fat cat salaries and bonuses... Well, I like living here in the UAE, which is not exactly known for defending the right of free speech. So, I'd better just leave it at that!

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