Note: This post might come across as grumpy. C'est la vie.
I have finally done it. On Saturday I have an appointment to visit Lloyds Bank Dubai Branch to open a local account with them. I’ve had an international account with the branch for over a year now and it’s been great – not a problem. My local bank, on the other hand, has been a different story altogether.
So this move will end 15 years of frustration and anger at a bank whose incompetence and blithering, mind-numbing stupidity at every imaginable level mark it as really quite special. The main thing that's stopped me moving in the past is that I have constantly been told that my lot was no better or worse than anyone else's. Having tried the grass over at Lloyds, I can tell you it's a damn sight greener over there as far as I can see.
I find it hard even singling out instances of my local bank's stupidity to regale you with, which is a shame as I’m sure some of them would be amusing to tell. But there are simply so many of them. My bank can’t be relied upon to take a faxed instruction for an international transfer and execute it. They have sent transfers twice, not at all, lost transfers and charged me Dhs 180 every time for the pleasure. Their call centre is laughable, a joke. You can’t speak to anyone in the branch, you’re routed straight through to the call centre. The call centre don’t have the contacts of the human beings in the branch you might at some stage wish to talk to. The call centre staff are plodding and pedantic. Their music on hold, infuriatingly, is frequently reduced by a technical hitch that has been there for years, to a condition approaching white noise. They always ask if there’s something else they can do for you when they have been unable to help you.
They have frequently blocked my Visa card (invariably just when you actually want it and always because of a security concern over a mundane and obviously routine transaction) without any attempt to contact me prior to instituting the block. They never block it when I do something mad like buy dinner for 15 people in Dubai on the same day as I've hired a car in London.
Their Internet banking service is marred by layers of maddeningly impenetrable ‘memorable questions’ passwords and other daft requirements. Their telephone banking service has a nine figure code that’s different to your bank account number. In fact, in order to use their services, you have to memorise over 30 digits of information.
I find it hard to talk to them now without being assailed by a feeling of deep-rooted loathing. I know that every transaction will, for some reason, turn into a sub-standard and frustrating experience. And yet my expectations, already lower than rock bottom, are never quite low enough to avoid disappointment with every new transaction.
And so, finally, I have been driven over the edge and am moving away. My old bank was the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation – known popularly as HSBC. It was the British Bank of the Middle East when I opened the account. Now I’m going to close it. I should have done it years ago. But damn, it feels good to know I’m finally doing it now!!!
The world’s local bank. LOL!