Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Generally Chaotic Banking

The day after the shocking death of music deity and icon, oburoni/obibini Michael Jackson I was sent on an unfortunate errand. [unfortunate, as used here means unhappy]

I was sent to Ghana Commercial Bank :(

Let me tell you a bit about my history with that bank. Before starting university, it is almost required to have a bank account, so quite excitedly my friend Phyllis and I went to GCB to open bank accounts. This enthusiasm was short lived, because getting money from GCB – ATM or banking hall is usually like trying to pry open a tortoise shell. Soon we abandoned the campus branch for the one at Prempeh II Street in search of better service. The straw that broke this camel’s back was minor, but I had just had enough. I was broke [first prerequisite to be a student] and was heading to Mecca [Accra- to my benevolent money- earning parents]. I had dutifully kept just enough money for my pilgrimage, and any encounter with a ground nut or water seller, for example, causing any spillage of goods would ground me. After waiting in line forever, the teller, stoically informed me that I could not be given the amount because I had insufficient funds.


Almost in tears, I explained, that it was simply not possible. Try as I might, they insisted I had withdrawn the money and forgotten that I had. There was nothing that could be done.


The rest is not important but I will forever be grateful to my friends who made my pilgrimage possible. As soon as I returned to Kumasi I opened an account with Barclays, and another with Ecobank as insurance. Never again.

So I cringed when I had to do my father’s bidding. It sounded simple enough: He had deposited money into my account from a branch outside Accra. All I had to do was go to the bank, and withdraw it for the benefit of another person.

Michael’s passing has reminded us all of the fleetingliness of the fraility called life, and I didn’t intend to waste mine at GCB. At the GCB branch at Osu, I was assisted by a wonderful security man who was immensely helpful; he really sped up the process for me; and I am very grateful. [I wonder if it was because he assumed I was a relation of a member of staff, who I asked to speak to...hmmm].

Most banks utilize a system called networking; it connotes speed, convenience, and ease of transactions. Not at GCB. The money had not arrived in my account – ‘insufficient balance’. The teller, several times, insisted that I check to make sure the money had been deposited. So I called my father. I was then informed that the network had been down earlier (as usual), but since been restored; and an assurance was given that the transaction would go through.

I sighed. I was not surprised, nor disappointed. In fact, they had lived up to my expectations. My father’s text summed it all up for me: ‘You tried. GCB inefficient’