Why is it that every time I step into my bank branch, it is with some trepidation and genuine concern that the visit will not go to plan?
Why is it that the very institution in which I place my money, upon whom I trust to keep it safely deposited, rely on to fulfill my bill payments and generally keep me solvent within reason – some stretch most of the time, I’ll grant – is the same organisation (boy, I use the term ‘organization’ loosely!) that fills me with dread with each impending interaction.
And this is an old one, one that I knew was about to rear up even as I scrawled something admittedly vaguely resembling my signature in a receiver’s book to pick a document. Moments stretched into veritable epochs as the stern woman at reception clicked her mouse sullenly and stared at a screen.
Now I don’t know about you, but I never manage to sign the same way twice. My signature is different each time, it’s just the way it’s always been. There’s obviously a few key strokes, points and curves that retain continuity and no-doubt a handwriting analyst could explain the distinctions, but generally it varies.
And this time in particular, when I had to sign a small box in a register book with a dodgy borrowed Bic that refused to play ball (geddit?) during the best part of ‘Shahz’ from ‘Shahzad’, I knew it was going to be way off. Sure enough, she turned to me and issued a vocalization something along the lines of ‘computer says no’.
Now at this point, I might just add that I’d already shown her my cheque book and bank card by way of identification, I was also standing there with an open wallet containing picture IDs like my driving licence and my Emirates ID.
Okay, okay, I know the signature should be reasonably consistent, and I’d argue it usually is, particularly as said bank never seems to have any hindrance cashing any cheques that I write, usually for considerable sums of money owed to schools and landlords.
As for credit and bank charge cards – when was the last time you found anyone in Dubai actually checking your signature? Nine times out of 10, they usually hand you your card back even before you’ve signed the slip.
Yet, to pick up a lousy document, from my own bank at the branch I usually frequent, I was being hassled over my signature. And it wasn’t the first time this had happened. Last time I had to go see an advisor, who then resorted to showing me my signature on their system and insist that I sign exactly like THAT.
Fifteen attempts at what pretty much amounted to forging my own signature later, he was finally satisfied that I must be Shahzad Sheikh – frankly by that time, anyone would’ve got it spot on!
Fortunately it only took three attempts this time.
Now I know procedure is procedure, but what the hell ever happened to common sense? Forget that, whatever happened to customer service?
Forget that, the even bigger question is why the ‘F’ do I persist with a bank that really doesn’t give one about me anyway?
Force of habit? Or because they’re just all like that anyway?