It's like groundhog day around here. The film, not the event.
The Central Bank has extended the deadline indefinitely for the implementation of the new Image Cheque Clearing System (ICCS), following problems implementing the system on January 1st 2011.
Meanwhile in unrelated news, the collective fat-headed nincompoopery that is my bank, HSBC, has once again seen fit to dishonour my rent cheque to my landlord. Which is precisely what they did in January last year.
On January 6th last year, I posted about both of these events. It's linked here. I pointed out the many problems people would face trying to present old cheques that lacked the security features mandated by the UAE Central Bank's implementation of the new automated cheque clearing system. I also pointed out what a communications disaster the whole thing had been. Of course there was little attempt to communicate the whole thing clearly and effectively and so, precisely a year later, the system has been once again delayed, withdrawn temporarily as everyone tries to work out how to go about honouring old cheques past the deadline set for them to be honoured.
The ICCS was first started as project in 2005. Now, five years later, it still hasn't been implemented. Last year's confusion led to more delays and a new deadline (the original 'new cheques only' deadline was 1/1/2010) which has now been extended once again purely because nobody invested in effective communications.
Meanwhile, HSBC is saying, as it did last year, that my cheque has been dishonoured because of my signature. Last year I went to see the morons and we sat together and agreed that their scanner had squashed my signature, which is naturally some 5cm high. We rescanned my signature (I had, first, to try and copy the squashed signature, my 'old' signature before they'd scan my 'new' signature. Honest.) and then their scanner squashed my signature to look like the 'old' signature. In order to do this, of course, they required my passport copy - and wouldn't accept my National ID Card as proof of ID.
My signature is, believe me, highly distinctive. I have been paying rent to my landlord for some ten years now. I write only two cheques every year - one to him, one to the post office. You'd have thought my bank could check the history or even telephone me before deciding to dishonour my cheque for tens of thousands of dirhams (obviously it would be an important transaction to me), but you'd think wrong. You'd assume some level of applied intelligence, care or (gasp!) initiative. And they are all sorely lacking. My bank has managed to make a mess of absolutely every aspect of banking, from issuing cards to making transfers, from providing a reliable, sensible and usable telephone and Internet banking service to honouring cheques. I am left dumbfounded as to how the hell they make money, but can only assume that totally ignoring the needs of your customers is the key to success.
You may want to suggest I find another bank. I am open to suggestions.