The People’s Newspaper, Emirates Today, has once again pipped its rivals to the post with a smashing front page lead today. The story is that some daft company has launched a new device that will disable your car if you default on your car loan – and it’s already been adopted, according to ET, by two of the UAE’s lenders. The story is, oddly, wholly uncritical and unquestioning of the device and its aims.
If the UAE’s lenders were capable of administering their way out of a wet paper bag, you could see where this system might – I said might – have some utility. But there are two teensy-weensy problems I can see in this – quite apart from the issue of who meets the extra expense of having the device (let me guess here…ummm… the customer?) or getting the thing installed it what is intended to be your car without them smashing holes all over the dashboard.
Firstly, let’s bear in mind the fact that we all have to write cheques to guarantee the loan here in the UAE (either 24, 36 or 48 individual cheques, depending on the loan term, or a single cheque for the full amount, which is becoming more common). The thinking behind this, which has worked just fine so far, is that if you bounce a cheque in the UAE you’re potentially in for major trouble – the police can be called and you can be imprisoned - if you do it twice, your banking facilities are suspended.
So loans here are about as secure as it’s possible for them to be. You default, the cheque is presented and bounces and you get a call from the boys in green. So banks don’t actually have any real need to have this device installed.
Secondly, UAE banks are in, my personal experience at least, incapable of administering the most basic of financial transactions without screwing them up and turning their customers’ lives into a hell of petty-fogging bureaucracy that would make the average Byzantine blanch. Specialising in rote process without empowerment, idiotic beyond measure and unhelpful to the point of inviting violence, banks here should not be allowed to go anywhere near people’s cars, let alone be given the ability to disable them.
Apparently rent-a-car companies are also using the system. I can see where that works. But banks? No, no and a thousand times no. I'd pay cash rather than put them in the position of being able to interfere with my car!