Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Small change

A vital part of my recent change in employer is my change of address. Like most individuals in the middle east, I have in the past adopted my employer’s PO Box as my mailing address, and had my SnailMail™ delivered directly to my desk. There are no doorstep deliveries in the UAE, except by Pizza Hut.

So over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been informing the various organisations that send me mail of a new PO Box number. Most can manage this change on the strength of a telephone call or an email. But – alas – not my bankers, who require a hard copy document. Just for once, the local branch of Red Triangles Bank performed faultlessly. Sadly, the same cannot be said of another major international bank, whose customer service and credibility proceeded to go down in flames last evening.

I wrote in early May: “Dear Bank, Please note my new change of address. Yours, G. Goat, esq.”

The bank wrote back about three weeks later with other issues raised by my letter. Despite the bank’s studiously ignoring of my change of address, I eventually received the correspondence. It had been forwarded through my former employer’s various offices until I was phoned and asked to come and collect it yesterday.

To sort out the address issue, I rang the bank’s published UK phone number. It’s a free phone call from the UK, but not from the UAE, of course. Inevitably, the call was answered by someone in a call centre in India.

After picking my way through security, a real person answered. He proceeded to go through all the same security questions again before putting me on hold and cutting me off five minutes later. I rang back. Twenty minutes into the second call, I was ‘passed to a supervisor’, which is call-centre language for ‘put on hold for ten minutes and then cut off.’

The third call actually produced some coherent information. Apparently, the only way to update my postal address would be to do it through phone banking. Alas, (and there is always an ‘alas’, isn’t there?) I don’t have a phone banking password. Never fear: the bank would mail one to me, and then I’d be able to update my address by phoning the call centre (for the fourth time).

Given that the only address to which they’d mail it is my old address, how useful is that? I’d have to trust that my mail would be forwarded and not opened by persons unknown, or else binned. This third call-centre operative promised absolutely not to cut me off, and then did so without even the pretence of playing some hold muzak first.

I have now resorted to writing to the bank again. I’m also considering alternative banking, despite having been a customer for thirty years. The sock-under-the-mattress approach pays the same interest, fees and charges are lower, and I don’t have to deal with call-centre buffoonery.



Susan said...

Call centres have two purposes only

1. To protect the company from the customer
2. To prevent the customer having any access to anyone who could actually get some work done

Mita said...

Go for the sock under the mattress - better control!

Stroogle el Ödmjukhet said...

I am all for the sock OR a major local institution, with whom my experience has been excellent in AUH. Your tale does not pose a challenge to experiences one tastes with call centers elsewhere (say, in the telecom industry?)! Fun read though...

Bush Mechanic said...

I was searching my companies mailroom for my wife's Oz driving license which was sent to her maiden name, so didn't get to my pigeon hole. Boxes and boxes of mail for former employees and current employees transferred to other international locations. I found letters to former vice presidents, financial controllers and product line mangers all dropped into boxes. What hope is there that my mail would be forwarded when I am way down the pecking order. At least your mail was forwarded.

Sirrah said...

Why don't you get your own private P O Box No. at the local post office? It's surprisingly inexpensive.


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