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Barclays [Ghana] “Kissing ATM Charges Bye…”

8 June 2011

I have always borrowed an uncle’s labelling of banks as thieves. His reason is their sometimes unnecessary charges even for services consumers think should be free. One such service, I think is the use of the ATM card. Personally, I subscribed to an ATM card when I opened my first bank account with The Trust Bank in 2002 or so. The charges were ripping my account apart. I paid for every use of the card including balance checks and withdrawals. Thankfully, I misplaced it, giving me good reason to cancel the card. Since then, I’ve lost interest in going near an ATM.

Then in 2008, as part of an orientation seminar to student participants in a work and travel programme to the USA, we were asked to open a bank account as soon as we arrived. This was to enable us receive and save our paychecks. This advice I heeded, and opened a ‘Campus-Edge’ checking account with Bank of America. It was too much fun. The account came with a free 5-year debit card which I could use both online and offline. What’s more, it was boldly stated on their website that I could use it anywhere in the world (charges apply). However, there were no charges when used with a Barclays Bank ATM. This has been tested and verified for more than five times. All transactions record no ATM charges on my online banking platform.

So when my friends keep crying about how much their banks charge them to use their own ATM  cards in their onw machines, I blush and exclaim, “you can’t do this in the US! Why should I pay to access my own money, especially when I’m helping reduce congestion on the banking floor”.

Chicago’s “Baby, what a big surprise” was my tune for the day I first heard Barclays (Ghana) Bank’s commercial about no ATM charges. Since then, I’ve been itching to have at least one for my two accounts.
The first time, I went to the UG campus branch. The CSR said that cards were issued till 10am, so I should try the main Legon branch. I didn’t. Then yesterday, I happen to pass by the Spintex Road branch. I walked in to apply for a card. I spoke to Carl first. “Take a seat”, he told me. I sat for about 15 minutes, and began growing impatient. I walked back to him at the counter, then he gave me an application form which I completed. While completing, I saw a banner about a Barclays international debit card. Carl won’t even let me open my mouth. “Gentleman”, he said, “relax and wait”. I responded, “please listen to me, I want to ask a question about how to get the international debit card”. “Oh, you can come back later and apply. For now let’s finish this one. I even have to check the type of account you have first”.
I kept my cool and was soon served. It signed a bank debit slip to authorise a 6 cedi charge to my account. My valid photo ID was photocopied. I saw him pull out an ATM card from a stack, and inserted it into some printer. He made me sign some old notebook against my name and then number of cards more I could collect. He took the card from the printer, and placed it into a wallet, added my application form and directed me to “a small room” for my PIN.
The woman was dryly welcoming, offered me a seat and took my card. She swiped the card in some reader. “Choose a four-digit number”, she said. I punched it on some small keyboarded device. while she was apparently entering my details I asked what the daily withdrawal was. She said it was 500 Ghana cedis. “Punch the number again”, she said. I did, and voila card was returned to me. I was a proud owner of a charge free ATM card from Barclays Bank, Ghana.

I was so happy I did not want to leave the bank. I made a transfer to a friends account. This was to enable me catch the name of another worker who I encountered in the application process. His name was Emmanuel. He confirmed to me that there were no charges on the use of the card apart from the 6 cedi issue charge. I took one of the fliers to enable me make a picturesque post about my experience. Further, I suggest that Barclays borrow that bank’s catch phrase of “happy customer, happy bank”. They could also coin their own… “happy Barcl-er, happy Barclays”

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