The Daily Panic

Bank of Maldives: A love story

My Visa card got blocked again.

It is the second time in two weeks that this has happened. Last week, I found out that my card was blocked while attempting to pay for a meal late at night. I didn’t carry enough cash on me, but luckily I happened to be with friends who offered to cover my tab.

Having never, ever had a pleasant experience with the bank, I feel emotionally drained at the mere thought of having to deal with them. My previous attempts at communicating with the bank were futile. They either never picked up, or kept me waiting on the IVR system forever without ever letting me through to a human.

When I took to ranting on twitter about it, some helpful beings pointed out that I could SMS the bank with my details and with any luck they would call me back. Thankfully, they did. It turned out that they had blocked my card due to a suspicious transaction.

“Is the $10 dollar amount deducted by a valid transaction?”

It is worrying that my bank conceives of Google as a giant scam, making its billions through fraudulently charging people in 5 and 10 dollar increments. But no, this really is a valid transaction, I promised. With that, I was able to have my card unblocked.

That is, until last night. I had just had a pleasant dinner with the missus and tried to pay for my meal – and boom! Declined again!

Coincidentally, I was going to visit the bank today anyway to collect my Internet banking password.

After an hour or so of waiting, I reached my turn and went up to the counter. The good news is, she has my Internet Banking password ready as promised. The bad news is, to actually use the website I also require an additional security code and I should have requested for it specifically. Without that, the password is useless.

So now that I am here, couldn’t you just give me the security code, lady?

No. You need to put in a separate request for that by email.

Well, fuck. All right. But could you at least tell me why my card is blocked again?

Suspicious transaction, of course. This time, it is your shipping agent.

Oh that one’s also legitimate. Please unblock it. And kindly please call me before you block my card again.

Sir, we did try to call you on this completely random number that wasn’t what you filled in your application form at all. But since it didn’t exist, we weren’t able to reach you.

How can that be? I gave you my updated address and phone number just last week!

Yes, you did. And I can see that the phone number in your account details is updated. But you see, you need to make a separate request to correct the wrongly entered phone number in your Internet banking service, although it is tied to the same account.

BUT WHY?! That makes no sense! It is the same account! How do I go about making this separate request?

You need to log in to the Internet Banking portal to request that change. But of course, you’ll need a security code for that, which will require another email request and at least a couple of days to process.

So you’ll just keep blocking my card until I make a request to change my phone number – although you already have my phone number?

Yes. Have a nice day, and thank you for using BML.


Of course, there was more ridiculousness involved.

The lady behind the counter needed my signature on a receipt. So I signed on it.

But she wasn’t happy at all. It apparently looked nothing like the sample signature on her system. She turned her monitor around for an instant and showed me what seemed to me to be pretty much the same signature.

What did I do wrong?

Oh. You didn’t get the curve over here right, and there’s supposed to be a slight space between these two characters over here.

Really? Can you show me that sample signature again?

Sorry, I’m only allowed to show it to you once. Because two times would be a total security breach.

OK. But why are we even doing this? I am right here in the flesh! I have my national ID card with me that has my photograph on it. Two minutes ago, it was good enough for you to hand over my password and unblock my card!

But my pleading was useless. By bank logic, it would seem that I was somehow capable of creating a perfect biological clone of myself and convincingly forge a national ID card – but dang if anyone could get past their hand drawn signature test! CURSES!

She finally gave in after my fifth failed attempt. And I was able to leave utterly disappointed, and clutching my useless password.

So after spending two days at the bank, what do I have?

My card is still vulnerable to being blocked with no notice. I still can’t do internet banking. I have two more email requests to make. And they haven’t responded to my last one asking about password security.

Bank of Maldives, one hopes, is the only banking institution that curiously forbids you from having a secure password. Apparently, it needs to be under 10 characters, and should on no account have special characters in them.

Why? Because fuck you, that’s why. Or if BML has a better explanation, they still haven’t responded to my very specific email query about it.

I can’t understand why banking, such an essential basic necessity of modern life, continues to remain such a painful experience.



[This article was first  published on ]

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