Monday, March 17, 2008

Arab Bank and an attempt to abandon the dark ages

This is not the first time, as a company we closed most of our accounts in the Arab bank due to the fact that Arab Bank thinks that we have nothing to do in this world but spend all of our time finishing up transaction with the bank. Unfortunately, i still have a personal account.
Last week I received a call from Arab Bank telling me that they renewed my Credit Card and that i should be receiving a new credit card with Aramex. Within a couple of day, i received it. I ended up with two cards, the old card that expires at End of March, 2008 and the new Card expires 2010. Today, i went to the Swiefieh Branch at 8:30 sharp in order to cancel the old one and activate the new one. The women was helpful enough to explain that I need to call customer service center in order to activate the Credit Card. She gave me the phone no. Still i could not understand why activating the card cannot be done in person. The reason why i showed up in person was because the Arab Bank built a culture in me that I could not do business with them over the phone; in other words, you have to do the walking and you cannot make your fingers do the walking. They always ask you to come in person, present IDs, and several other documents including, but not limited to, your Electricity Bill.

It was a joyful moment to me as i thought no more parking issue, or queue up, the Arab bank finally realized that channels are open! And finally we are out of the dark ages

I called the customer service no
A lady politely answered, and as you would expect, she talks like a recorder. Nothing surprising there, since during my career, I developed a customer service management system and i know that scripts are created to dictate how the customer service agent talks

I told her that i received a new credit card and i wanted to activate it. She immediately barraged me with huge amount of question

Your name
Your birthday
Your Credit Card no
Your account no
and the killer question: what is your current balance?
I answered politely that i could not remember the balance! She said that she cannot do anything, because she needs the balance ( I suspect, the balance is needed as a means of authenticating me)

As part of my profession, we develop web solutions; some of them involve making money transaction over the net. I understand what Secure Socket Layer (SSL) is , i know what public key encryption is! I fully understand what authentication, authorization and non repudiation is!. I read about most of the available means and mechanism of establishing one's identify, but this new Arab-bank innovative what-is-your-balance identity management technology is quite new to me. I want to ask the arabbank not to bother to patent its new invention; since I seriously doubt that security sensitive institutions would be particularly keen in using this new identity technology

Fine, maybe the Arabbank has pioneered technology that i am still short of understanding, but surely, i can still understand instruction.

When i first received a call to tell me that i would be receiving my new card, the lady did not give me instructions that when i call their customer service center, i need to memorize my current balance

When i received the Card, no written instruction exists in the envelop telling me that i needed to memorize my current balance when i call the customer care center

Finally, and most annoyingly, when i walked in Face to Face to the Swiefieh Branch, the lady, who gave me the customer care phone no also did not tell me that since i was already in the bank, I might as well inquire about my balance before calling them.

I asked the lady what to do, she told me that I need to login to the internet and inquire about my balance – That was no solution as I was not connected nor did I have the password ready. The other solution she offered is for me to go to an ATM machine and inquire about my account. Back to the Dark ages!!!!
Drive your car that is coasting 1 USD/Liter, find your way in the busy streets, find an ATM machine, find a parking and inquire about your account. Then call back,, we are 24 x 7 service.

The Arab bank seems to be still living in the 60's when the streets were empty and used to take you at most 10 minutes to go from one side of Amman to the other... When parking was never an issue, when you had only one account (if any). When you could spare the entire day to visit the bank! and most importantly, when no body was constantly claiming that the investment climate in Jordan is advancing, when plans on top level are been made to encourage foreign investment.
This requires no Einstein to foresee, nor a noble prize winner to realize that, No Foreign Investment shall be seen, because as things stand, Local investment shall seize.

If Arab bank wants to dictate its regulation, this is absolutely fine with me, on one condition, not to expect us to be fortune tellers, but at least make the instructions clear

Finally, Arab bank does not really have to bother with this. Further discussion with Arab bank shall be to no avail. Arab bank has made a record 1 Billion USD in profit and can surely sustain business without the disarray that I m causing. The best solution is to close the account and cancel the Credit Card, I am sure it is an easier process that activating the damn credit card

Ammar Sajdi


Hatem Abunimeh said...

You could have waited 13 more days before your current card expires. Just because you received the card you don't need to rush to the bank to have it activated right away, especially when you are under no constraints on any kind to do so now. It is very possible that during the next 13 days you will learn about your balance, & now that you know what they want, next time you call for activiation you will be ready for all of their questions including the balance.

Anonymous said...

Ammar -
Try International Cards Company's MasterCard.
Given that their business revolves around credit cards, they don't have all of the complicated processes of the Arab Bank. Plus, this makes customer service their main focus. They have a 24/7 call center and several locations around Amman.
Visit or call 5660660

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yehia said...

well, applied for morgage in dubai. Took me 4 month till the seller go fed up and decided to quit the deal.

Been following up daily by phone and visited the bank every saturday and despite all of this. my morgage was not finished and i lost my 10% downpayment.

The worst bank i have ever dealt with.

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