Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Cultural Experience

I had a bit of a cultural experience this morning. One of my employees is in India at the moment, and needed me to send him some money. Unfortunately he banks with Bank Of Baroda.

When I came to Dubai my first employer was with Baroda, and I would occasionally have to go there to cash a cheque. The place was always swamped, the bureaucracy archaic, and the queueing horrendous (typical Indian queue, 1 deep and two hundred wide).
I'm a fairly forgiving sort of bloke, so I was prepared to believe that BoB might have improved in the last ten years. They might even have computers.

Wrong. (Well they do have computers, but they're probably only 386s).

I went in, and could not find a counter for Remittances. I asked a lady who did not seem too busy, and we had a difficult conversation. She pretended to misunderstand what I wanted at first and told me to go to the currency exchange house next door. I asked her if I was in BoB and she didn't seem too sure.

Eventually she grasped the idea that I wanted to give them money to deposit in a BoB account in India, and told me to fill in a form. 'Which form?' I ask. She points at the guy next to me. 'One of those'. 'Ah, and where would I get one of those?'. She waved at several stacks of forms. None of them have a title that would give you a clue about their purpose.

By now she has decided that I am a moron, but I go way down in her estimation when I try to fill it in. You would expect to see things like 'recipient's name' 'account number' etc. But no, we have a box labelled 'favouring'. Apparently this is the name of the recipient. The unlabelled box under this is for the account number. After that is a label 'words'. 'Don't put anything there!' says my helpful guide. Eventually it is all done, and I have to go queue to pay the money to a cashier.

The cashier yells at me because I have not filled in the denominations of the notes I am presenting. I explain to her that this is her job. Hmmm.

Anyway, all done, and I go back to the first lady and ask how long the transfer will take. '10 days' she says, with evident glee. I can't believe it.

Back at the car. Oh, I forgot to mention the other great thing about BoB in Dubai - you cannot easily park within half a mile of the building. Back at the car I have look at my receipt, and noticed it is being done as an MT - a Mail Transfer! For goodness' sake. I go back to BoB, which by this time is full of people, but eventually I get to the front of the queue and get them to change it to TT - Telegraphic Transfer'. First lady is shocked. She says 'but you have to pay 80 dirhams for that!', and I say it's not a problem.

Anyhoo, got it changed, and it'll be there in 2 days. But how interesting that this lady sold me the cheap but slow option, and when I queried the intended slowness of the service she did not even think to offer the more expensive but faster service. Hmmm. Not destined for a career in marketing, methinks.


Blogger secretdubai said...

Banking confuses the hell out of me, but could you not just have wired it from a (normal, 21st century, first-world bank) to his BoB account in India? I have even sent money to overseas banks through NBD.

Or just sent it hawala-style through Western Union?

3:14 pm  
Blogger Keefieboy said...

I guess I could have sent it from another bank, but I figured that using BoB should be quicker, because it's a simple interbranch transfer.

I know when I have money tranferred to or from my HSBC account, if it is being sent or received by another HSBC branch, anywhere in the world, it happens within 24 hours.

As it turned out with that BoB transfer, my employee was back in Dubai before the money arrived in Kerala!

4:37 pm  

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