My account with Mashreq Bank was frozen on October 3, 2011 in view of my transfer to a new employer. Upon receipt of my salary on October 30, I tried to pay my credit card online, as the payment falls on that day, but I found out I could not do it the way I used to. Neither the person from Mashreq who advised me that my account was frozen nor the SMS they sent me mentioned anything to this effect. So I called the Mashreq Customer Service Department requesting them to arrange the payment for me. However, I was informed that they were also unable to do it. I asked what I should do since I already had the money in my account, and I did not want to incur late charges. The Mashreq representative replied that I should request the reversal of the same in the event I was charged, and that I should visit any of their branches to regularise my account.

On November 3, I visited the Mashreq branch on Electra Street to do this, but was advised that only their branch on Airport Road handles such cases. So the next Thursday (as this is the only day when I am available to attend to any personal matters), November 10, I went to the Mashreq branch on Airport Road. I requested the bank employee to arrange for the payment of my credit cards and to release my account accordingly but he told me that he could only request the release of my account upon submission of a salary certificate even if my two monthly salaries from my new employer had been transferred to my account with Mashreq. Nevertheless, I felt relieved that my two credit card payments had been arranged.

To my surprise, I received an SMS on November 13 from Mashreq informing me of a payment made on my credit card which I did not request or authorise. Upon checking my account, they in fact debited my account for Dh2,036.06 for a payment that matures only on November 30. I called them to reverse this as the money left in my account was intended for my loan amortisation of Dh1,678.78 due on November 16. I lodged a complaint, but they refused to reverse it. My point is: why debit my account for an obligation maturing later and not for the other obligation that matures earlier? That means they would be charging me for late payment where in fact I had the necessary funds on time.

Subsequently, I found out I was really charged a late payment fee on my credit card. I requested for a reversal in view of the availability of funds in my account at the time the payment matures. But again they refused to reverse this.

I was so disturbed as they kept on calling me to deposit some funds to cover my loans and so, to end the issue, I borrowed money to fund my loan amortisation just in time for the ten-day extension period of my loan (November 26). However, Mashreq did not debit my account.

The Collection Department still called me to settle my loan for which I blatantly replied to check my account.

I checked my account after two days (November 28) and my money was still there so I called the bank to arrange the payment of my loan and release my account.

Then again, they charged me Dh50 as a late payment fee for my loan. I lodged a complaint on December 1 for it to be reversed and luckily I got a reply on December 7 that they would reverse it in three days.

But even after my loan was paid, Mashreq's Collection Team kept calling me and my friend, who is listed as my reference person, almost daily, causing so much embarrassment on my part. Then someone called me again asking when I would settle my loan. Why can't they check their records first before making such calls?

My request is for Mashreq to reverse the late payment fee of Dh179 on my credit card. For the record, I have never delayed paying my credit cards. I may have paid only the minimum payment required but never delayed.

I hope and pray that Gulf News can help me get back my hard-earned money.

From Ms Severina Jasmin Canda
Abu Dhabi

The management of Mashreq responds:

Thank you Gulf News for sharing Ms Severina Canda's letter with us.

At first, we would like to sincerely apologise to Ms Canda for any inconvenience caused. Our investigation revealed that Ms Canda changed jobs, hence the end of service was received and as per basic bank procedure, the account is placed on freeze until the required documents are received from the new employer. Based on this, Ms Canda couldn't process her online credit card payment, which is due on the 30th of each month.

Ms Canda contacted our customer call centre and was directed to the branch for further assistance, post which she visited and a manual payment of the card from the account was arranged. As the payment was received post the due date, a late payment fee of Dh179 was applied on the card. We are pleased to share that a reversal of the late payment fee has been arranged and the same has been communicated with Ms Canda, who was satisfied with the proposed resolution.

We would like to thank Gulf News for bringing this to our attention and for seeking clarification.

Ms Canda responds:

I appreciate Gulf News' intervention. Mashreq did what is supposed to be done.

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