Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Adventures in Banking

Sometimes when I am faced with a difficult task, I just put it off. I put it off and put it off – it’s not such a bad strategy, really, as sometimes the problem can go away, or be overcome by events, or solves itself. Most of the time, I reach some point where I am required, finally, to deal with the problem.

I needed money. I had money in my bank, but I didn’t know how to get it. I called the bank to ask how to get money moved from this account to that account.

“No problem, habeebti (dear one),” the customer services lady said, when I explained my problem. Not only did she solve my problem, but she gave me a grin that lasted for the rest of the day. I’ve never had a bank employee call me “dear one” before.

When I would need money, I would go in to the Women’s Bank. It was cool – only women, no important men pushing their way in front. Sometimes we would drink tea as I sat at the desk and filled out the withdrawal form. It all worked fine until they broke off a separate Islamic bank, and I was banking with the non-Islamic side, so I had to use the regular bank.

One time, when I was withdrawing funds to pay for a trip, the customer at the next customer service desk looked just like Saddam Hussein. The customer service woman at that desk was explaining to him that yes, he had checks but he could only write checks for the funds he had deposited in the bank. You could see he got the part about having checks, and writing checks, but this part about funds in the bank to cover the checks – what was that? He looked puzzled, and fierce, and angry, and he argued with the woman, and thought she was messing with him.

Now, I needed to have my name listed on an account my husband had set up for me. After months of putting off the inevitable, including trips to the bank to actually get it done, only to find that branch of the bank was closed, we finally got to the right bank, together, and the bank was opened.

We explained to the receptionist what we wanted, a joint account. He looked at my husband:

“You want her on your account?” (the tone was disbelief)

(Husband nods)

“But WHY??”

(We look at him in astonishment.)

“No. It is not possible.”

(We drop our jaws.)

Then he pats my husband on the back, laughs (he was joking) and takes us to the place where this is done.

We go through the routine again, with the teller. Again, we get astonishment.

We are sent to an office, where paperwork is prepared. In actuality, my name will not be on the account, but I will have access to the account. I don’t know why. No one could ever explain it, other than that is the way it works.

Just to be sure, once my name is – well, not on the account, but allowed to use the account – I give it a try, to make sure it works.

At first, it doesn’t, but then the customer service guy comes by and tells the teller it is OK and voila! I have money! Later in the week, I will try it at an ATM to see if this really works. I’ve gotten cynical. It’s not Kuwait; I have had trouble using ATMs in my own little home town, too. It’s like ATM voodoo.

This bank has small vases of flowers everywhere; the flowers look fresh. There is a system, with taking a number and waiting your turn, and even the very important man who tried to cut the line is told, very politely, that he must take a number. I’m impressed. The bank employees are all very polite, seem to know their jobs, and although it seems our seemingly simple – to us – request is outside their norm, they work hard to accomodate us. All in all, I would give the customer service at this bank an A.

But best of all, I secretly like it that the customer service woman on the telephone calls me “dear one.”

February 1, 2008 - Posted by | Adventure, Bureaucracy, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Financial Issues, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Relationships


  1. I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you.

    Jason Rakowski

    Comment by Jason Rakowski | February 1, 2008 | Reply

  2. I have no idea which bank this is, but it is a very strange bank.

    Comment by Purgatory | February 1, 2008 | Reply

  3. I love the “dear one” too, and I’m glad they were able to put you on the account. but really, khalti, what a request! letting a wife have access to a husband’s account? how bizarre πŸ˜›

    Comment by adiamondinsunlight | February 1, 2008 | Reply

  4. I always check my commenters, Jason, and I really like your blog. Customer service is one of my pet issues, and your blog is a great Go To! πŸ™‚ Welcome.

    Purgatory, the branch I go to is a very sweet branch. It might not be the same in every branch.

    Maybe husbands and wives keep their accounts separate in this part of the world? I know there are different ideas about it, Little Diamond, but also maybe it was because the account has existed for so long without me on it (my bad). . . I just don’t know!

    Comment by intlxpatr | February 1, 2008 | Reply

  5. lol @ ATM Voodoo! It is sometimes like that isn’t it!

    What is great about the banks is that those so called important people don’t cut in line, but deal with aother people in the bank to get their job done. This only means that those who try to cut in, aren’t important but they probably feel that they are themselves.

    Oh and there aren’t any joint accounts, not that I know of, just “access” like you mentioned. The idea of join accounts is alien.. hehe.

    Comment by N. | February 3, 2008 | Reply

  6. N., yeh, you are right about the really important people. πŸ™‚ And thank you for the info on non-joint accounts. From the grins, we got the idea that it seemed a VERY odd idea. They kept asking my husband “Why?” as in “Why would you want her to have access to all this money??”

    Comment by intlxpatr | February 3, 2008 | Reply

  7. loool @ the “astonishment”

    The things we take for granted, ha? πŸ˜‰

    Comment by kinano | February 3, 2008 | Reply

  8. Honestly, Kinan, I had a blind spot! It IS funny!

    Comment by intlxpatr | February 3, 2008 | Reply

  9. […] is it different in Kuwait than in the USA? I remember when we wanted a joint checking account here ( Adventures in Banking), one man looked at my husband in disbelief and said “Why? Just give her some money!” […]

    Pingback by Romance and Money Matters « Here There and Everywhere | September 11, 2008 | Reply

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