An Egyptian lady traveled abroad, carrying a visa card issue by Al Ahli Bank. She was comforted by the idea that she can use it to cover all her expenses, for the credit card was issued by a respected national bank. She wouldn’t have to worry about carrying large amounts of cash that could either be stolen or lost.
But as soon as she arrived at her destination, she realized that the card didn’t work, even though she had used the same one abroad before. She was, however, certain that there was nothing wrong with the card itself. Perhaps there was a communication problem with Al Ahli Bank in Cairo on that day, she thought to herself.
But the next day, when she tried to use it again, it still didn’t work. So she was forced to pay some of the little cash she was carrying to the hotel as a deposit as she had promised the day before.
And on the third day, she tried again; but once more without much luck.
At that point, she started to worry. She didn’t really know what to do, so she decided to spend only within the little cash amount she had left.
When the conference she was attending ended, she decided to return to Egypt immediately, for she was starting to run out of money and the card didn’t work once throughout her five-day stay.
She told the hotel that she was planning to check out earlier than her booking dates. That was when the real problem began. She attempted once again to use her visa card to pay the rest of the hotel bill, but when again it didn’t work, the hotel threatened to take legal action against her.
So she resorted to the Egyptian Embassy and explained the situation. Luckily they were able to verify her identity and stop the hotel from pressing charges by covering her bill.
As soon as she arrived in Cairo, she headed straight to Al Ahli bank and showed them the visa card they had issued and asked why it was blocked.
She was told that Visa headquarters had reported the theft of a number of cards that were being used unlawfully all over the world and so the local bank decide to block them.
“But was my card number reported missing? she asked.
“No, they explained. “But we noticed that the card was used in two other countries within the same month so we suspected that it may have been stolen.
She assured them that she was the one using it in those other countries. But when she asked why the bank didn’t contact her to check or warn that the card was going to be blocked, and they said it was because they couldn’t find her number, she lost her temper completely.
“Why are you so angry? they asked. Now that we know that your card wasn t stolen, we will reactivate it immediately.
So they did and the problem was duly solved.
You can therefore imagine why I find it so difficult to understand the logic behind those who badmouth our national banks nowadays, claiming that they’re mismanaged and lack proper customer care. And that’s not all. They even call for selling those banks to foreigners to improve their management.
We just saw how this lady’s very ordinary problem was solved as soon as she informed the bank that there was something amiss and in the span of a few minutes too.
If this problem had taken place anywhere else in the world, the lady would have immediately sued the bank and received a hefty compensation for the harm to which she was subjected that could have led to her arrest in a foreign country.
But in our case the bank settled the problem immediately, the card was reactivated, as though nothing at all had gone wrong.
Pray tell, can anybody wish for better bank service?
Mohamed Salmawy is President of the Writer’s Union of Egypt and editor-in-chief of Al-Ahram Hebdo. This article is syndicated in the Arabic press.