Monday, 9 June 2008


Three days before pay day. We're down to our last 591 Dh. We pat ourselves on the back pleased that we've managed to pre-pay so much of our upcoming holiday and still get through the month. A job well done!

Well, we ARE in the Emirates and things don't usually go as smoothly as we'd like. And of course ... things didn't go as smoothly as we'd have liked. The first ATM apologised for being busy and not being able to help us now, and it politely told us that we could try again later. So we tried the next machine and it gave us the same message. We lumbered up to a third machine, did a balance check and were notified that our balance was 91 Dh. A phone message confirmed that 500 Dh had just come out of our a/c. The only problem was that we didn't get 500 Dh! A call to the CALL centre told us that we'd need to go into a branch to fill in a 'dispute form' which we promptly did only to be told that we'd be notified of the result in about two weeks. Fan-bloody-tastic!

Anyway payday came and went and our coffers were spilling over with money when lo and behold 500Dh mysteriously appeared in our account. I was very pleased to see it because in all honestly I didn't think there was much chance of ever seeing it again. However, with full coffers, the 500 Dh was not nearly as welcome as it would have been just before payday.

During that same few days we tried out our shiney, new visacards that we had just organised with a different bank for our holidays. We're off on a grand tour with no idea of how much it will cost. We figure we'll have just enough or we'll be just a bit short. So we decided to get ourselves a credit card so that we could have the odd splurge if we felt so inclined, and in particular we wouldnt have to curtail our holiday if we'd wildly underestimated the cost. We left ourselves plenty of time to get the cards because of course, we ARE in the Emirates and ...

We tried our cards out in a store in Dubai only to have them rejected. So we later rang the bank and were told that we had cancelled our cards. We very politely insisted that we hadn't in fact cancelled them! The bank finally acknowledged that it was a bank error. For some reason they decided that they'd better close the accounts because they'd been 'opened in error.' Luckily though we didn't need to worry because, and I quote, 'No problem. You apply again and you have new card.' Never mind that last time the process took five weeks from go to whoa! We thanked the CALL centre operator very politely and went into a branch to see if they could help. The girl at the helpdesk looked completely unmoved by our situation and told us she couldn't help and that we'd need to ring the CALL Centre. I bit my tongue and insisted that she ring them which she did promptly handing the phone over to me! Sigh!

We rang the CALL centre back a couple of times and got different people each time who each had a slightly different version of what had happened and what needed to happen next, but all involved a suggestion that we simply apply again! We have one slim chance of being able to pull something off and get our cards reactivated, but we are reliant on one contact's assurance that she can sort it for us.

So that's our current situation. We're off on holiday in a week and a bit and the credit cards that we thought would give us peace of mind on our holiday, have turned into a royal pain.

Don't you love banks? Breathe deep Aussie, after all, you ARE in the Emirates ...


nzm said...

AARGH - don't talk to me about UAE banks and credit cards.

Oh and BTW - a tip. If you do sort out your credit cards, when they expire in a couple of years and the bank issues new ones, check the CC numbers, as they will probably change.

I got caught badly with this little trick. Wrongly assuming that my credit card number stayed the same when my Emirates Bank Mastercard was renewed, I couldn't understand why the charges against my card weren't showing when I checked my account online. Phoning (at least 4 times) to ask them why, they assured me that they could see the charges and they would appear soon online.

Then, without notification to me, the bank started withdrawing money from my Cheque account for payments towards my credit card account. That was (sort of) fine, as I had the money set aside for payment and I did owe it, but I was frustrated that I still couldn't see my transactions online.

After about the 10th call, it dawned on me that my CC number had changed - the last digit was now a 3 where it had previously been a 5. They had changed my frigging CC account number by 1 digit, and of course, the letter accompanying the new card had said nothing about this.

I should have been more diligent about checking this, but it's a first for me. My NZ Visa card is always re-issued with the same number, as is my Amex card.

I still can't see my UAE CC account online and I've now sent enough faxes to kill 2 trees, rung the banks countless times and spent a small sum while listening to ugly music while on hold, and asked our account manager to look into it - all without success.

I've stopped using the card because after living in Melbourne for 12 months, I'm not receiving regular paper statements and if I can't see the account online, it's useless to me.

However, they still continue to send me paper statements which I only receive when J stops in Dubai and clears the mail.

Robin said...

Unfortunately, it's not just the banks that are inefficient. Even the Higher Colleges of Technology has demonstrated gross incompetence in calculating termination payments for staff ceasing in June.

They have had no less than three attempts to get it right. We don't know for sure that the final attempt is right either, but will just have to hope for the best.

The once glorious HCT seems to be rapidly declining.

Not to worry, another week and it will all be halas.


AUHgal said...

I don't suppose you want to out the offending back?

Aussie said...

A non-UNB ATM ate money from my UNB account. Incidentally a similar thing happened to a friend a couple of days ago. He tried to withdraw 800 Dh at a non-UNB bank, the machine said 'no can do' so he tried again a minute later and got 800 Dh. In view of what had happened to me, he came home and checked online. Sure enough, 800 Dh had come out twice though he'd only received it once.

Re the credit card fiasco, I have the HSBC bank to thank for that one!

Robin said...

When the HSBC issued my CC, I received PIN notice letters for:

Visa Card Gold
Master Card Gold
Visa Card Standard
Master Card Standard

I had applied for a Visa Standard.

I made several phone calls and had to wait for "it" to arrive. (The card that is).

Eventually a lovely Indian lady rang me and told me my Visa Card Gold was ready for collection. I asked why a Visa Gold card was waiting when my application clearly requested a Standard card.

She told me that, "... you earn enough money for a Gold card."

I told her I didn't want a Gold card, to try again. Eventually I was contacted and offered a Gold Card, free of fees for life.

It must cost the bank a fortune in rework and wasted materials.


PS: I intend to hang onto my free Gold Visa for life too and screw every cent I can out of them

Matilda said...

You write very well.