Sunday, August 14, 2011

Money matters

Today I take time off of castigating media houses and their products to reveal the silent torture I’ve been enduring in the hands of our local banks. I’ve decided to finally speak out about this systematic molestation because it has cost me real revenue and plenty of time- which is money, so really we’re talking obscene amounts of mullah (sic). The footwork I’ve done in trips to various banks could have easily taken me to Bondo (city) – and back. I kid you not, if I had weight to lose, I would’ve taken the Slimpossible crown.

It all started one day when I decided that I needed to send and receive money online instead of incurring the burdensome cost of Western Union or of wiring money overseas bank to bank. “Self”, I told myself, “register for Paypal.” A bulb lit up in my head and I got on the Internet and tried to register my debit card for the service.  “Your card has been denied by your bank…” was the unsavory reply. Puzzled, I went to make enquiries at their Westlands branch since, according to the Paypal site, one should be able to register any card as long as it is a Visa card. The guy at the inquiries desk looked at me like I was speaking Martian and gave me the customer care number to seek further assistance. Maybe I’m expecting too much but the person sitting under the ‘Enquiries’ sign should know as much about what the bank does or does not offer as the voice that would answer a call to customer care. Anywho, dial the numbers I did- both Airtel and Safcom. Pick the phone they did not, no matter how frequently and angrily I hit ‘redial’. And I thought Safcom’s 100 was bad. Mercifully, I was led to an acquaintance who worked for the bank and he informed me that I had two options. One, try their credit card, which you needed to have an income comparable to an MP’s to acquire, or two, try another bank.  Being perpetually a hair’s breath away from poverty, I took door number two and went back to Westlands to open an account with one of my first bank’s rivals. I met a guy opening accounts for passers-by at the door of the banking hall, so I sat down and asked him if their debit cards could transact online.  In a rather uncomfortably fawning way he assured me they did; all I had to was give him my ID and photo (which he took right there).  I went home rubbing my hands, safe in the knowledge that in two weeks I would be sorted. To cut a long story short, I got the card more than a month later which, you guessed it, was useless for online payments. After a couple of deep breaths, I collected my shattered expectations and moved to the next option. Though this next bank has amassed the largest customer base in the country literally overnight, I hadn’t associated it with Internet-based services. Nevertheless, someone swore to me that his card from this bank was all that and a bag of chips. I changed my mind about trying this bank after seeing the static queue at the accounts-opening desk and it was in that very queue that a former classmate convinced me to check out yet another bank.  Since it was virtually next door, I decided to do so immediately. Opening the account was done and dusted before I could say ‘Paypal’ and six days later, an SMS informed me that my card was ready for collection. That was when my debit card demons resurfaced. On the day I picked up the card, I was solemnly promised that within two hours my card would be enabled for online transactions. Two days, and numerous fruitless customer-care calls later, I was- and still am- no better than when I began this Paypal odyssey two months ago. According to a reliable inside source, the bank enables the card when you request it and then disables it towards the end of the day because of the ‘risk’. What, in the name of all that’s good, is the point of making me fill a form in which I essentially acknowledge the risk of transacting online, if at the end of the day, the bank still decides it knows better and blocks the card?     

Still on money matters, but on a different tangent, you know how we’re always whining about pro footballers who get paid silly money just to kick a ball and roll around on mattress-soft turf, well I found a needle in that particular haystack. Balotelli, eat your heart out.

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