Saturday, October 01, 2005

Banks and Couriers

Bloggers are a bunch of whingeing gits. I know, I am a master at it. In fact I am probably extra-qualified because Brits are known for expressing their feelings of unhappiness the world over (unless they have the stiff-upper-lip thingy) (gene?). Anyway, what follows is a whinge, moan, gripe, call it what you will, so if you don't care to read such things, feel free to move on now, and thanks for the hit.

There's actually two intermingled stories here. The first concerns one of my absolute best clients, and the second concerns my least favourite bank.

A bit over a week ago I had a meeting with nearly best client and took a briefing for three websites to be done in the near future. The first of these is to be done immediately, so I work out a quick price, it's accepted, and come and get the cheque for the upfront money. I go to their office after my pointless trek round Git Ex, and pick up the cheque. It is only when I get to my least favourite bank to try to slap it in the next day that I realise the damn' thing is not signed!!! Aargh. So I call nearly best client, who is very apologetic and promises to try to swing by Media City or something. The next day I get a call from nearly best client's administrator who says they'll do a new cheque and entrust it to a courier for delivery. OK, that's cool.

The next day, Wednesday, I'm in the office, but no sign of a delivery. I try to treat Thursdays as a bit of the weekend, but I'd asked the DMC staff to give me a call if the delivery showed up. No call. This morning I went into the office and there was a voicemail message 'Hi Sir, this is ****ex, what is your location?'. This message had been left Thursday morning. ****ex are usually pretty good with in-town deliveries, and in this case I would have expected them to revert back to the sender and get my location and/or mobile number. But they didn't. They just binned the delivery.

Anyhoo, I know from the message phone number that Aramex (oops, I meant ****ex) have an office in Internet City. I'm planning to pass that way because I need to withdraw some cash from National Bank of *****. So, as I am still a wheel-less enviro-warrior, I decide that I will take a stroll over to the Aram** office, because the undelivered package is bound to be there, isn't it.

A small aside. The entire Media City / Internet City / Knowledge Hamlet site is currently split in two by the construction of the access roads for the Jumeirah Palm. The building that ****ex is in is on the other side of this building site. I approach the site with trepidation and explain to the guy at the barrier that I want to get to that building over there. He lets me into the site and off I go. When I finally get to the ****ex office, I am sweating like a sweaty thing and can barely talk.

The chap in the office brings up the record on his screen, and I see instantly that one digit of the office phone number is incorrect. So I wonder how the courier managed to leave a message on the actual number? And more to the point, gimme the package. Tappety-tap at the keyboard. 'It's not here, sir'.


'It's at HQ in Za'abeel'. Excellent. Truly bloody marvellous.

I suggest to them that they didn't try hard enough to contact me, and that they should stick it in a taxi, right now this minute, and send it to National Bank of **** where I will be waiting in a queue. They decline. They will deliver it after 4pm. I tell them to make sure they do, and advise them that I will not be there at that time but they can leave it with the peeps on reception. Sheesh.

I trek back through the blazing desert heat to the National Bank of *****. It's closed! Unlike any bank I've ever been in in the UAE over the last 12 years, this branch does not open on a Saturday! Unbe-bloody-lievable.

The other story concerns National Bank of ***** and some couriers. A bit under a year ago I opened a business account with NB*. It seemed like a good idea at the time. They had what looked like a fully-functioning branch in Media City Phase 2, and that seemed to be pretty convenient. We all make mistakes. A few weeks after opening the account I asked them where my ATM card and online banking login details had got to. They looked at me as if I'd asked for a grilled stoat on ciabatta. First of all, they never give ATMs on corporate accounts. 'Oh really, every other bank on the planet does' I say, but they are unmoved. Bollox. OK, what about online banking? Umm, OK, fill in this 20-page form.

I fill in the form and a week later a courier calls me asking for my location. Well, I'm currently at a meeting in Dubai but you can leave it at reception in DMC. Oh no, sir, you have to sign for it. Bugger. I tell them to deliver it the next morning. I get the delivery, and it's approaching Thursday luchtime so I toddle off to the pub to get the weekend started. The minute I walk through the hallowed portals of the Alamo the phone rings. It's a courier wondering what my location might be. I'm not expecting a courier delivery, but he says it's from NB*. Oh, I laugh, I've already had that. No sir, says the courier, that was your password. This is your PIN. Oh for God's sake you cannot be serious. I tell him to burn it. No I don't, I tell him to deliver it to the Media City branch of NB*.

I'm really really busy the next few weeks, and every time I go to NB*, so are they, so I don't manage to collect the PIN until about three weeks later. Ah, says the lovely Fatima, you didn't collect it, so we destroyed it. Thank you very much, say I, that's really bloody helpful. 'I can request another set if you like'. Well please do, and get them delivered to this branch. Don't even think of trying to co-ordinate my presence in the office with two separate couriers!

Eventually. Eventually, I manage to use the assorted gubbins and get online. The first thing I do is change my password like they tell you to. The next time I try to login it won't play. I try logging in a couple of times and then I decide that it might be fun to waste a few hours trying to get through to a tech support person. Long-suffering call centre operator tells me there's been three bad login attempts today, so the account has been blocked. Ah, OK, that was me. So can you unblock it please? No sir, we have to issue a new password and PIN. Marvellous, send it to the DMC Branch.

That was back in July. I picked the stuff up, but never used it because I was going on holiday that day. When I got back from holiday I could not for the life of me find this info. But I found it this morning! I have a new lappie bag so I was transferring the contents from the old one and there were these unopened password and PIN envelopes!

Awright, let's give it a go. Doesn't work. Give it another go. Doesn't work. Call the desperation line. 'Try logging in again', she says. I do so. I get locked out because there's been three bad login attempts in one day. 'Send it to the DMC branch then', says poor long-suffering Keefieboy. Round about lunchtime she calls back 'just checking that was the Rashidiya branch, yes?'. Ohmigawd.

I never expect banks to ever give me anything that I actually want, (and please, Gulf-ites, the nationality of this bank is irrelevant, I have equally crap stories about UK banks that I might bore you with in the future), but I am really, truly, astonished at how difficult NB* have made it to access information that I am entitled to. And also money that belongs to me - the only way I can get cash from this account is to go and physically queue at the branch.

Just like the old days.