Its not every day I put my foot down.
Those who have the unfortunate luck of knowing me on a personal level are, I presume, aware of my laid back approach to insults and confrontations. It’s not easy to piss me off. But when I do get my arse off the couch and decide to fight, I never back down. I pretty much stay at it no matter what. Don't know why but must be the lack of excitement in my life.
Well, that's pretty much enough of my dick is bigger prelude to the tale that follows.
I have only one enemy. I hate it with passion. Apart from the man made concept of god, no other concept, in my opinion, has done more damage to the human fabric than it. It’s the faceless, bloodless, and unavoidable, in your face organization called the bank.
I try to keep my distance with banks. I don't like them but they seem to love me. At least they pretend like they do.
Long ago, in fact about 5 years ago, my wife and I decided to buy a SUV. We sold my wife's Volkswagen Golf for the down payment and financed the rest through a bank known then as Me Bank. Talk about a personality disorder. Of course I knew it was a bank when I walked into it and had to suppress the instinctive desire to brandish a cross.
Of course I got the loan. We were good for it. Of course for the next 5 years we religiously paid the EMI that was owed to it. We, in the meantime, named our steed Ben and then I promptly fell in love with it.
5 years passed.
I go to the bank to get a clearance letter. Lots had happened in those 5 years. Water was found in Mars, we found out that god men can have sex and so can really old Indian politicians, governments were ousted, some were reinstated, a nation held their collective breath while an old man fasted and ranted, ,Mebank was swallowed by Emirates NBD and I gained 10 kilos.
So there I am, feeling really cold, in front of one of those suits whose smile never reaches their eyes. I let him know that I have cleared my debt and now want a clearance letter. He keys in some commands on his computer, thereby perhaps nuking some unfortunate family's life and turns to me saying that my account is still open. He says it with a relish. I could almost feel him sniffing my blood.
I ask him to check again, considering that I had given a million cheques covering the number of months in 5 years ,all of which had been cashed by them. He strikes another bunch of keys. I can almost hear screams in the distance.
'There's a balance of AED 387.75 in your account. Pay that and we will provide you the clearance letter'
I am, as you know pretty stupid, so I enquired why I have to pay that amount. Upon which I am told that it is there on the statement, so I have to pay it.
Now that pisses me off. I hate being told that because it’s written, that's how it shall be. Fuck, I have been fighting that almost all my life.
So I requests him to tell me why that charge is there.
He can't. Why? Because he does not know. He says that it could be a charge due to the integration of the bank. So I asked him if I have to pay when Emirates NBD decides to carpet their office.
Now he does the finger pointing routine. This is where he will tell me to run pillar to post. I told him that I refuse to go anywhere. I want to know where this charge came from and that I am pretty sure that he can find it out for me without me having to go on a pilgrimage for it. Then he asked me to call up the contact centre. I told him I won’t since I am already in a bank.
I am pretty irritating, no?
So he calls up the collection center and asks someone there to check my account and revert back to me. I tell him that since I have met him, he will be the privileged one who will have to deal with me. He grudgingly tells me to call back in 2 days.
I do and am told that he hasn’t got a reply. So I call their contact center. There I am told the amount is AED 239. Amazing. The amount seems to have a life of its own. So I give the contact center chap for whom I have the greatest respect, the same spiel about how I am not planning on paying a single penny unless someone tells me what the charge is for.
Accrued interest I am told. On what? I ask. He can’t say. Funny since I always thought that you need something to charge interest on. He requests me to pay the amount. I say I can’t. I ask him to give me the number of the collection center. Which he gladly gives.
So I call the collection center. The phone is answered by a guy with an Arab accent. So I give him my details. He tells me I have to pay AED 139/- The dancing charge!
I ask him why. He tells me because the banks can charge as and when they feel like it. I ask him to repeat it. Which he does. So I ask him why can’t he just call it a bribe. Now the man is angry. So am I. So I tell him we can do this dance on the newspaper. He gives me his Assistant Manager's number.
I call the number and am answered by a very cheerful man who in the beginning does the friendly Arab intimidation act. This is where he is all smiles and laughs and treats you like an errant client. I am from sales. The trick is lost on me. He sings the same lines. Integration charge, accrued interest etc. I give him my reasons as to why I think the bank is trying to get me to bend over so that it can slide it in and have me thank them for the courtesy. He realizes that I can go on. I am polite but annoying. He promises to get it waived. Tells me he will get back.
He does. After 2 days. Every thing sorted out. All charges waived. I am to contact any branch and get the clearance letter. I do and I get my letter in 2 days.
I thanked every one concerned but one thing still puzzles me.
I am yet to be told why that amount was there in the first place. What was the charge for?
I am aware that many customers who have already shelled out thousands every month just want the whole thing behind them and therefore will pay what ever the bank tells them to; no questions asked. Not many are jobless like me to make a fuss over this.
From what the loan officer told me, no one ever questions this and when you do I guess it gets waived.
Well, that's all folks. Check your statements. If you find a shape shifting amount in your loan statement when you go for closing it, call me. I am your man. I have got all the numbers you will ever need.
And I wont charge you a penny.