Friday, July 04, 2014

Monty bank

You don’t suppose for an instant that you’d simply forget a pile of cash that you put somewhere? Even pirates traditionally made a map to where they buried their treasure; they surely didn’t forget about it. But normal, non-piratical people apparently do forget their bank accounts. I can see the situation of someone dying, having left no will, no relatives, and no instructions for what the bank should do with the money. As you can’t take it with you, what’s a bank to do?

Here is what should happen:-

“Dear Valued Customer,
We note that you have not done anything with your bank account for some time. Please confirm that you still need it, and need it to be active, by doing something with that account within the next 30 days. Pay something in, perhaps, or make a withdrawal. Actually, as it’s an internet-only online savings account, just log on using your secure username, password, security device, mother’s pet’s maiden name, and gaze at the account balance. That will be enough to let us know that we shouldn’t bugger about with your account. If you don’t do anything at all, after 30 days we’ll set the account  to ‘Dormant,’ and you can then contact us when you want to wake it up.”

I wonder how long a Dormant account has to remain so before the Bank assumes that it can steal your money? Or “Absorbed as charge,” as they prefer to express it.

Anyway, over at my favourite Local Global Emporium of Red Triangles, they do it a different way:-

“Dear Mr Goat,
We note that you have not done anything with your online-only savings account, so we set it to ‘Dormant’ two days ago. Here are several irregularly-spaced flaming hoops you now need to jump through.”

So I took the account details along with my original passport to one of the Red Triangles shops in a shopping mall. “This account. It’s Dormant, but you have to go to a main branch to do something about it.”

“But the bank’s blurb says a Relationship Manager can sort it out, and that’s what it says on this plaque on your desk.”

“Not me, Mr Goat; a Relationship Manager at a branch. It’s a teller service; not an administrative one, despite what it looks like. And as we’re in Ramadan, all the bank’s branches shut at 2pm, about three minutes ago.”

Now, if I had indeed forgotten about a significant pile of cash for a year I might not be surprised at having the account put to sleep. But I look at it at least every month when doing the domestic accounts. I use a microscope so that I can see the interest accrued.  Seemingly, just accessing the account isn’t activity enough. I might be inclined to move money about, but there’s little incentive to make a deposit when the interest rate pays fractions of one percent. Similarly, what’s the point of making a withdrawal when I can buy a kilo of bananas with the monthly interest?

But what really gets up my nose is the bank’s keenness to shut down online access to an online-only account without prior warning. Wouldn’t it have been so much simpler to offer some timely alert so that I could move a nominal amount of cash around while I was banking online, instead of what I now need to do: drive all over town? Twice.


It gets better and better. I've now been to the bank, learned that reactivating a dormant account requires the filling in of forms, the presentation of at least one bank-issued card, my original passport and Emirates ID, and the making of a withdrawal. So it's both administrative and teller operations.

According to the relationship manager, in order for an account not to be suspended, the policy over at Red Triangles is that a withdrawal must be made at least once every three months. It is however possible to make deposits into a suspended account.

For Crying Out Loud! The e-saver account permits one and only one withdrawal per month without loss of all interest. I am apparently obliged to withdraw a nominal amount every 89 days just to prevent the account from being suspended, and then risk losing interest on the entire balance if I have to take out more money.

This is a Deposit Account. It's for Savings. Where, aside from the colossal interest paid [Hahahaha], is the incentive to save with Red Triangles?


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