My first insight into how banks operate in the UAE was when the bank's sales representative who attended the Nissan Car sales yard went blank when I mentioned the EFT word ... you know as in Electronic Funds Transfer. She had no idea what I was talking about, ignored me and told me how I had to sign and date 36 cheques.
After we overcame our astonishment, Christina and I sat in the Nissan Sales Yard with pens and cheque books furiously writing 36 cheques. It reminded me of the day I had arrested a fraudster on 54 warrants of apprehension for defrauding the Australian Government and had to write on the back of each warrant, "I certify that I have executed this warrant. Date. Robin Henry, Constable 8875" and sign them.
God, how I had longed for a rubber stamp. In any case, 36 was better than 54.
From there, everything worked like clockwork. Come the third of every month and a cheque would be posted to our account and the requisite amount of Dirhams transferred.
Well, the clockwork stopped when I paid out my loan and got a clearance letter ... you know, the one with the rubber stamp.
While trying to pay out the loan and get the clearance letter, I became aware that my firstname had been recorded as Rosin. As the UAE alphabetises on first names, everytime someone typed Robin into the database screen, nothing with Robin Henry appeared. Surprise, surprise!
And it got worse. When they eventually found me, all the data about me was wrong except for three details; lastname, date of birth and nationality. I was less than impressed.
Eventually, arrangements were made for me to collect:
- the clearance letter saying I had paid out the loan (so I could sell my car)
- five cheques that were still in the bank's possession, but were no longer needed
When I was called to get the clearance letter I asked for the cheques and of course, they weren't there ... "we'll call you when they are ready and you can come in and collect them". Huum, not my cockup, but I have to suffer the inconvenience.
Next, I found that even though I had paid my debt in full, a few days later a cheque had been issued and I now had 2,000 AED credit with the Ass-about company. Damn, so another trip to town later and they agreed they would repay the money. They would call me when the cheque arrived and I could drive into town and collect it. Again, my inconvenience.
Today I received a call asking me to bring in my passport because as my name was incorrectly recorded in their system, they couldn't raise a cheque until they could see it. "No trouble", I thought, it's a great opportunity to drive into downtown Al Ain again, risk life and limb and show somebody my passport.
I'm going tomorrow. No doubt I will need to go back later and get the cheque, anything for 2,000 miserable Dirhams and when you have been pissed about a lot, it becomes addictive. I mean, every time it happens, you go home and get pissed.
Not a hint of an apology which either means that it happens so often, staff is immune from noticing that there's been a cock-up, or it's all part of their standard operating dysfunction.
If you live in the United Arab Emirates, I can highly recommend that you NEVER, EVER do business with the Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank ... without a doubt the worst bank I have dealt with in 50 years and aptly named the Ass-about Alphabet Company.
ADDENDUM - ... And the ADCB strikes again.
Guess what? When I drove 10 minutes into the ADCB Al Ain branch this morning and expected to see Bilal sitting at his desk, there was a hijab-wearing woman in slacks and a nice top.
Without going into too much detail, she could make a photocopy of my passport and sign them to say she had sighted the original, but she couldn't possibly give my my cheques because, "That's Bilal's job and it's his day off."
Fighting to remain composed and civil I said, "Isn't there a file here with Robin Henry on the front that has copies of the cheques and a file not saying what's happening?" As expected, she gave me a blank look and said, "You have to come back tomorrow."
I asked what would happen if Bilal got sick and was off for three months. She didn't respond.
It was 8:30 am. I knew it would be a bad hair day. I stomped out muttering expletives under my breath and drove the 10 minutes back to work through the idiot drivers.