Sunday, August 5, 2012

Cheque-Mated!


The banking system has evolved over the years to the sophisticated industry it is today. Sadly one thing has not followed suit. What I am referring to is the common cheque.
Just as a matter of interest the first printed cheque as we know it appeared in 1760. However the use of a piece of paper requesting a third party to handover money to the bearer has been in existence since 362 BC. Amazing isn’t it.
Yes the way cheques are cleared and processed has grown faster with time. Yet one still has to sign it just like one did many centuries ago. And if you can’t sign a cheque it can be a real pain in the ass.
Let me tell you my experience.
Some time ago I pulled a nerve of my right pinky finger and had only partial control of it. You will never believe how vital a role the fourth finger plays in grip till you lose control of it. I could not even eat with my right hand or even a hold a cigarette properly even though I use the second and third finger for that. And of course it affected my ability to write. And that was a real bummer because I write best not when I am typing but when I put pen to paper. All this was inconvenient but I was nonplussed. I could still type my stuff on a computer and use fork and spoon to eat my meals. Of course it made the food less tastier which too was good for my waistline.  
Life was not that bad. Until I had to write out some cheques. I realized that my signature was completely different and however much I tried I could not make it look anything better than a childish scrawl. The amounts I had to pay was quite large so I could not go to an ATM and take the funds out which meant I had to actually step into a bank and make a withdrawal which was a time consuming and frustrating exercise. It has been years since I had stepped up to a bank counter period. Since the two banks I am a client of pride themselves for their service I decided to put them to the test.
First I called the HSBC hotline. I explained my predicament to them and requested for them to honor the cheque even though my signature would not be identical to the one they have on record. I also volunteered to put all the instructions and information down on an email so that the bank would not be held responsible if there was an issue later on. After keeping me on hold I was told that the only way this would happen is if I was to visit a branch and change my specimen signature by filling a new signature form. Which defeated my purpose. And I just gave up.
Then I called the boy who handles my account at NTB. Wow what a difference in attitude. He was accommodating right from the word go. Yes they would gladly honor my cheque. All I had to do was be kind enough to put everything down on email just for their records. Everything was a breeze. And I was happy. A couple of days later I see that I am getting a call from the NTB executive. For a moment I thought there might be some kind of issue but was touched when he said he had called to check if my finger was better.
In the end I managed to get HSBC to agree as well but that was after having to call some of my contacts which was too much extra effort.
And once again NTB impressed me no end with their excellence in customer service. And I am not even a priority customer at NTB which I am at HSBC a bak I have been a customer of for more than 25 years. Whilst with NTB I have not even
It was this incident which got me thinking that there must be a way to improve this archaic method of payment. Sadly I have not been able to come up with any thoughts on how. Any suggestions anyone?

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thefloaters said...

Cheques are a menace. Online money transfer, tis easy. -Frank

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